11/6/17

I graduated from a decent Canadian university. Top firms come here to recruit, but I don't think we are nowhere near the level of MIT. Anyway, I have a bachelor's degree in math and I have been working as a Software QA. But I'd like to switch over to finance. My strategies are:
1) CFA. The traditional ticket for engineers who wants to make a switch. MBA is absolutely not an option for me for personal reasons.
2) Aim for quant then move to S&T, which is probably really unorthodox. To do this, I plan on developing a software and trade with my own money. Unlike CFA where if I pass then I pass, it is really difficult to make an outstanding side project.
Can you suggest any other routes? Or how feasible are my plans? Thanks.

Comments (15)

11/6/17

if you want to get into trading, and you have programming chops...i suggest you just get a job in IT at a large investment bank supporting the trading division. Once you are inside, you will be able to lateral to your desired position. Fixed Income (bonds) and Derivatives are always looking for programmers with motivation. You will need to learn some finance basics first (option math) and some other math stuff (implementing linear algebra, stochastics, and other stuff). If you can do all this, then you will be able to get a job as a IT quant...which is what you'll need to do to learn the trading business. A Masters in Financial Engineering is normally how people would learn this stuff.

Financial Modeling
11/6/17

IT as in IT support? I have 0 experience in IT. IT support and software dev is quite different. Well, I took a number of useful courses including Bayesian statistics, regression, machine learning, data structures, OOP, and real analysis I,II. But I thought firms don't even consider candidates with only undergraduate degree.

11/7/17
Dorris:

IT as in IT support? I have 0 experience in IT. IT support and software dev is quite different. Well, I took a number of useful courses including Bayesian statistics, regression, machine learning, data structures, OOP, and real analysis I,II. But I thought firms don't even consider candidates with only undergraduate degree.

no...at the banks the software engineers are in the IT division (Some Quants are in the Trading Division...and some are in IT...but you need deep finance experience (measured in years) to get a trading Quant role). You will need to get some kind of finance experience before you can get a job in a front office role. The fastest way is a Masters in Financial Engineering https://www.quantnet.com/mfe-programs-rankings/
But if you can't afford to go that route, then you can get a programming job (not quant...you don't know enough yet to get a job as a quant...but there are implementation/system design programming jobs that you could get)...and use that programming job to springboard you into a quant role after you fill the gaps in your education. Many banks will pay for you to get the masters in financial engineering after you are there for 1-2 years (they will require you stay at the firm for a few years, or repay the tuition...but after completing the program, you will be able to apply to the quant jobs that you really want, and you will be competitive for them).

11/6/17

waterloo? apply to entry level quant roles

11/6/17

Yup. But aren't most quant roles require at least masters? I was lucky enough to get an interview at JS which I failed miserably, but it was the only firm that gave me an opportunity.

11/7/17

i've worked in a Quant groups at a couple BBs...all the quants have Masters or PhDs

11/7/17

The thing is my ultimate goal is s&t so getting a masters degree for that purpose... Idk

Best Response
11/7/17

if you didn't get a summer internship for S&T, then you have to backdoor your way in. There is no other way for an industry outsider without a compelling story to get inside (and unless you've built an algorithm that has performed "out of sample" trading real money for over a year...you don't have a story...paper trading doesn't count...the banks have hundreds to thousands of people, with PhDs in a variety of disciplines, trying to write trading algorithims that are consistently profitable - trading every day - what makes you think you will be able to do better -even tho you have zero experience).

So, the best (highest probability of success) backdoor is the quant door. Quants have a chance to interact with trading desks as a peer, and are viewed as smart. After a year working as a quant, if you have the right skills and aptitude, you will have a chance to transition over to trading (i've seen this happen over a dozen times on various desks within rates and derivatives trading in fixed income at multiple firms). Government Desk, Swaps Desk, Options Desk, Agency Desk, Emerging Markets Desk, Mortgage Trading, etc...Quants and Quant programmers were given shots as junior traders on all of those desks over the years. That is the ONLY backdoor i've seen to be successful in the last 10 years. Otherwise, you're only way "in" is thru the summer internship your junior year, an MBA (still questionable rate of success), or you know somebody who can secretly sneak you into an intern class.

So, like i said, your best bet is either Financial Engineering, or just IT system programming, and then after you are inside a large bank (Citi, DB, Barc, ect...) THEN you can try to get experience and learn what you are missing (all paid for by the bank) and then transition into a front office role.

Worst case - you have a job as a system programmer/engineer - which has its own job stability and exit potential into the tech world.

11/7/17

You are God

11/7/17

But can you suggest a way for an undergraduate to break into quant? Like do i have a better chance at smaller shops? Would CFA level 1 help even a little?

11/7/17
Dorris:

But can you suggest a way for an undergraduate to break into quant? Like do i have a better chance at smaller shops? Would CFA level 1 help even a little?

CFA is worthless...for Trading. I have never ever met a trader (i traded for many banks over the years) who has a CFA. Maybe for some sales positions it has some value...CFA is a marketing gimmick..it will not help you make actual trading decisions...in Trading, you are not investing with a 5-10 year time horizon. When trading, your time horizon is measured in minutes, hours, days...and that is why CFA is worthless.

So forget that CFA garbage as a route to Trading. Your only "high probability" route into Trading is 1) internship 2) grad school (Masters Financial Engineering), 3) backdoor system programmer / quant route, or 4) trading your own money as a retail trader and building a successful algo (easier said than done). I know that is not what you want to hear...but its the truth.

You might find one off stories of a guy who networked his way into a hedge fund as an analyst. This might work if you have a network in the trading world, and you are social enough to tap into it. For the majority of the population, this won't succeed.

11/7/17

Well I am more interested in client facing roles (will stay as a quant otherwise) So I guess The S side of S&T is what I should aim for. In that case, what is the best strategy for me? I feel like quant to sales is still the best route but I'm not so sure about its feasibility not having a masters degree

11/7/17

the only way to get into institutional sales is the internship Program. (undergrad or MBA summer interns). There is no other path. The fact that you are trying to change careers after undergrad already puts you at a disadvantage....that fact that you are working as a QA software engineer also dings you (except for the quant route i already described). This is why Masters programs exist...for people like you.

11/7/17

So Quant it is
The reason I am interested in client facing is because how dry my life is atm. I barely talk to anyone outside lunch and stare at screens all day. Hoping that finance so change that and I m genuinely interested in finance.

11/7/17

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