Probably a decision I should have made at 17.
April 19, 2007 10:13 AM   Subscribe

I've decided I want to be a Quantitative Analyst.

I've been putting this question off for a while, but its time has come. First, some background:

I've got a BS in Network Engineering, a very stable job, and a decent career outlook, but I'm a victim of my own ambition. I want to get far deeper into mathematics and programming, and the mathematical analysis of emergent systems--particularly markets--fascinates me. I feel like drooling idiot when trying to penetrate the technical literature, so I want to start taking classes. I've been out of school for 4.5 years , and I want to go back. Desperately.

Of course, there's trouble. I graduated with a dismal 2.45, caused by a hellish bout of depression following a year-long leave of absence during which I helped start (and crash) a dot-com and lose my fiancee. My math education beyond sophomore Calc II is all self-taught, as is my programming experience beyond my first year of Computer Science. I've yet to take the GRE or the GMAT.

I'm aware this education is going to suck up (at least) the next 8 years of my life, and that I'll very likely have to take a lot of undergrad classes to get a solid foundation.

So, am I just completely off my nut? I know finance is a mother to get into. Is this just some quixotic dream I'd be better off setting aside? If so, please tell me. If not, where do I start? Applying to grad school for an MFE? Trying to first get a BS in Applied Math or Finance? Taking low level math classes at the community college before transferring to the university? I just want to get my feet on a path. Any advice is appreciated.
posted by quite unimportant to Education (7 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
One of my friends worked as a Quant for a hedge fund, and he did some recruiting for them. They would always ask brain teaser type questions during their interviews, figuring they could always teach math/CS to clever/smart people.
posted by Comrade_robot at 10:18 AM on April 19, 2007

Quantitative finance is a tough field to break into but it is pretty much a meritocracy so if you are smart and hard working my guess that you will end up OK. Of course, finding out if people are smart and hard working is tough so firms tend to like people with good degrees from good schools. And good schools is pretty ruthless: top 15-20. Sounds like this is not your situation, so it will take a little longer. No problem.

My advice would be to see if you are really interested / have the aptitude for this field. Take financial accounting and introduction to econometrics at the local college. If those classes are really tough or boring, look someplace else. If you like them and can’t wait to do it 55 hours / week then post again.
posted by shothotbot at 10:46 AM on April 19, 2007

Quants people are in high demand in the financial industry and they are paid very well. I work at an investment bank and can tell you most would never hire you w/out the right degree from a top school. So I'd say you need to do whatever it takes to get back into school - I'm sure other posters will give you more feedback on how - and then, provided that you do well, you can expect to see headhunters come calling. Don't worry about your low GPA in undergrad, nobody outside of shcool admissions will care about that.
posted by widdershins at 11:03 AM on April 19, 2007

Finance is just a field of economics. One option is to get into the best doctoral program in economics that you can get into. Make sure that this program has at least one professor who does some quantitative financy stuff. Get in, power thru your course work, and spend no more than a year finishing your dissertation. The whole program should take no more than 5 years. WRITE YOUR DISSERTATION ON THE RELEVANT TOPIC. If you want to go into quantitative finance, don't write "Three essays on hermeneutic economics."
posted by GarageWine at 11:10 AM on April 19, 2007

i took an intro to financial mathematics class at Columbia, which was offered as part of their MA in Mathematical Finance. A large number of the people in the class were people already working on Wall St. but doing some kind of number crunching instead of being brokers or such.

I suggest taking a look at the course offerings and syllabi and gauge how prepared you are for the graduate-level coursework. My own background is in CS and math, and I did okay in that class, but my lack of preparation in statistics really hurt me. I myself decided after that class that I wasn't interested in continuing on, but I still think it was a valuable experience. BTW, the text used for this intro class was Hull's Options, Futures, and Other Derivatives.
posted by needled at 11:29 AM on April 19, 2007

Finance is just a field of economics.

Only inasmuch as pharmacy is a field of theoretical physics.
posted by mendel at 11:50 AM on April 19, 2007 [1 favorite]

I work for a company that makes software for pricing electric deals. Typically our clients are quants with degrees in statistics or something similar, but it is not required. Check out Energy Central Jobs and see what type of requirements they have.
You might be able to get into it without a relevant degree - I have a degree in Western European Politics but happen to be handy with a computer and have the patience to listen clients explain the details of how they want their systems to work.
posted by charlesv at 12:55 PM on April 19, 2007

« Older When is it time to call it a day on looking for a...   |   The Secret To Your Success Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.