(Original post by TheBBQ)
I'm currently an undergraduate and I'm thinking about possibly doing an industrially focused applied mathematics PhD after I graduate and becoming a quant is one thing that looks like a very favourable career at the moment, so I have some questions.
My undergrad isn't at Oxbridge/LSE/Imperial obviously and I have heard that they want people with masters/phds from these kinds of universities, so would my undergrad matter at all if I did indeed get these qualifications from such prestigious universities?
How competitive is the market for such roles? It appears quite difficult to enter once you've just finished a post doc and there are very few entry level openings?
A lot of job posting asks for people to be familiar with SAS, SPSS and so on which I doubt I will get a chance to use, so how would I go about doing this?
What kind of experience is required to get in? General finance internships for undergad and I assume something a bit more heavy done during postgrad?
1. Generally, I've heard that the postgraduate institution you go to for a PhD isn't particularly important, it would however, have been important if you were only planning on a Masters. What's more important is the subject you study and any of Maths/Physics/CompSci would suffice - so, you're on the right tracks
2. As with any finance role, demand for jobs will be fairly high. Except in your case, the pool of acceptable applicants will be significantly smaller than it would be if you were aiming for a normal grad position. The quality of applicants for quant jobs tends to vary somewhat too. There'll be the technical geniuses thay can't relate on a human level and the ones that aren't quite as technically sound but have a better personality; banks tend to lean towards the latter for their hires and quant hedge funds/prop trading firms lean towards the left of that spectrum.
No. of jobs out there is continually growing as markets become more sophisticated. It wouldn't surprise me if by the time you start recruiting the available positions will have significantly increased in number.
3. There are only a couple of things you need to be good at to get through the quant recruitment process: solid maths ability (both mental maths and complex, advanced level knowledge), programming proficiency (C++ is a huge language, so is R and Python, some places use functional language a like Ocaml, Haskell etc) and a strong background in statistical analysis (exposure to SQL, SAS databases etc, probability, and some data mining stuff). If you can hone these key areas, your life will be made a whole lot easier when it come time for you to recruit.
4. Anything you can get your hands on. Some banks/quant hedge funds/prop shops have quant internship programs specifically designed for those undergoing a PhD/Masters but on the whole, finance work experience isn't hugely advantageous. Certainly apply to internships whilst you can and it'd be nice to have one to speak about, but they aren't the be all and end all.
This is as much as I can glean from speaking to a couple of current quants/thorough research. Hope it helps.
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