PhD Physics to Quant


by oreliphan
Tags: physics, quant
twofish-quant
twofish-quant is offline
#55
Mar1-10, 09:16 PM
P: 6,863
Quote Quote by oreliphan View Post
Can anyone say anything about becoming a quant at a mutual fund? Is this similar to the role at a hedge fund? (Forex mutual fund in particular)
There's less heavy duty number crunching at a mutual fund because mutual fund companies like Fidelity are very restricted in what they can do. (Hedge funds aren't.)
twofish-quant
twofish-quant is offline
#56
Mar1-10, 09:22 PM
P: 6,863
Quote Quote by story645 View Post
Man has wall street warped you. $150k in NYC can still buy you plenty of nice things. Not an actual dwelling near your office, though with the housing market as it is you may be able to rent a place with only two other roommates (instead of the usual 5).
If you have a wife and kids, the numbers change a lot. In particular if you want a place with decent schools, then it's going to cost you. There's also the 45% marginal tax rate.

This matters because a $150K job in NYC is probably comparable to a $100K job somewhere in say Texas, which makes a difference when comparing careers.
twofish-quant
twofish-quant is offline
#57
Mar1-10, 09:45 PM
P: 6,863
Quote Quote by ferm View Post
How is people in your work? Are there many interesting people (broad interests, etc.) or the majority is only interested in money? Do people working together socialize, have dinners, etc. or the competition is too high that you cannot have friends (and people stab you in the back)?
Every company has it's own set of cultures. The place that I work at is very family-oriented so that there isn't a huge amount of socializing. Also, the other thing is that everything is pretty team oriented so that people are extremely friendly and helpful because making money is not a zero sum game. Any internal competition makes it hard to fight the people across the street.

Also being nice, polite, and friendly is part of the challenge. It can be surprisingly difficult to be nice, polite, and friendly when you are under severe stress.

On the other hand, I have met many students of business schools (BBA) and some of them are interesting, but I think the majority classify as jerks (though I don't know if this majority will eventually work in finance). Do you have to interact with people like that too often?
Since I'm in technology, I don't know that many people that have MBA's. However people that can't work well with other people, tend to not last very long in finance. One reason for this is the way that employee reviews and bonuses work. Because you get graded to a large extent by the people around you, so you want people talking about how nice and helpful you are.
story645
story645 is offline
#58
Mar1-10, 09:51 PM
P: 670
Quote Quote by twofish-quant View Post
If you have a wife and kids, the numbers change a lot. In particular if you want a place with decent schools, then it's going to cost you.
That's what the outer boroughs are for. I'm slightly kidding here, as I do hear where you're coming from, and most everybody I know sends their kids to private school so I have an inkling of the vagaries of tuition rates (and I can still remember shopping for high schools for myself). And even if I say $150k can buy nice things, I could get a big place elsewhere for what I pay for a (150sqft) closet in Harlem and my mom's constantly complaining that I pay double what she does for groceries (and she's in Queens.)

Actually I have a quant question for once. Is it one of those fields that's hard on women? If you're young, single or newly married, and female, is hr afraid you'll bolt as soon as you get a kid on the way? (I know some fields do tacitly discriminate against women for this, so I'm curious.) Is religion a barrier to being hired? I know it's illegal and all, but will not being able to work certain days push you to the bottom of a hiring stack? I know that there are plenty of orthodox Jews working on wall street, but confirmation would be nice.
twofish-quant
twofish-quant is offline
#59
Mar2-10, 02:39 PM
P: 6,863
Quote Quote by story645 View Post
Actually I have a quant question for once. Is it one of those fields that's hard on women? If you're young, single or newly married, and female, is hr afraid you'll bolt as soon as you get a kid on the way?
It's no worse than any other field in business and probably a lot better. HR tends to a female dominated area and there are enough alpha-female/supermom line managers that having problems with working mothers is career suicide.

Is religion a barrier to being hired? I know it's illegal and all, but will not being able to work certain days push you to the bottom of a hiring stack?
No, since if you have problems dealing with someone that is Elbonian Xenuist, it's going to be really hard to do business in Elbonia.
Eren10
Eren10 is offline
#60
Mar5-10, 06:50 PM
P: 17
I am studying Aerospace Engineering and hope to finish my Master in 1 year. I have interest in economics since many years , for my study I was to plan to combine technology and economics. firstly i choosed a study that combines math & informatics & economics, but after few months changed to aerospace engineering.

Now maybe ( still searching career options) I want to start a career in the finance , investment sector. At mine university I can follow some basic courses like general economics for engineers, computational finance, financial mathematics.

One teacher of me said that probability is very important. And If I do well I can do phd in uncertainty quantification for aerodynamic purposes, so i will learn a lot of probability theory.

An other option is to follow Master of Econometrics ( 1 year).

Is Master enough or is phd preferred in engineering studies ? I am thinking that master should be enough.

I am from Europe, I do not know if Wall Street is still attractive for employees of Europe, Euro increased too much :))
I am waiting for any advice. Thanks.
twofish-quant
twofish-quant is offline
#61
Mar6-10, 12:28 PM
P: 6,863
Quote Quote by Eren10 View Post
Now maybe ( still searching career options) I want to start a career in the finance , investment sector.
First question, why do you want to go into finance? Most likely it's because you heard that people in finance make a lot of money. But how do you know that people in finance will make money in five years?

I've found it's better to be flexible about careers. One thing about finance is that it covers a lot of stuff. Pretty much every industry has something to do with finance.

At mine university I can follow some basic courses like general economics for engineers, computational finance, financial mathematics.
Or just go out on amazon and buy a few books on the topics you are interested in.
Eren10
Eren10 is offline
#62
Mar6-10, 06:05 PM
P: 17
Quote Quote by twofish-quant View Post
First question, why do you want to go into finance? Most likely it's because you heard that people in finance make a lot of money. But how do you know that people in finance will make money in five years?

I've found it's better to be flexible about careers. One thing about finance is that it covers a lot of stuff. Pretty much every industry has something to do with finance.
Actually I like the involvement of the finance/economics to the society.
I do not know if they earn a lot of money compared to the aerospace engineers. Now I am almost finished with mine study and if I really concentrate on mine work it is restful and challinging. But compared to what you get from the society I think it is to hard !

I am considering to change an other field because of money and involvement to the society.
I have still to find out how much I can earn if I change ! Is it worth to change ? because I am thinking it will not be easy too change ! In which part of the finance I will go will depend on the money and the stress (e.g. only trading looks too much stress !, if the earned money is a lot i can try to cope with it).


Quote Quote by twofish-quant View Post
Or just go out on amazon and buy a few books on the topics you are interested in.
Your advice is much easier , actually I have also no time :) . but I think, I need the courses also for mine C.V.
osmosis
osmosis is offline
#63
Mar7-10, 07:59 PM
P: 6
Oreliphan -- Mutual funds are in general not the place for quants. The pay structure is very different and there are almost no quant based mutual funds for various practical reasons. Your choices are hedge funds and IBs. As for stat arb, I'll be happy to help -- shoot me another email off line.

Story645 -- There is no disadvantage to being a woman in the quant space. Obviously, I can't speak to every individual's behavior but from an institutional standpoint you probably would be helped rather than hurt by this. That said, you may wish to consider whether an almost exclusively male environment would be to your taste. It's for some, not for others.

Twofish-quant is not off-base as far as the cost of living. A decent studio in Manhattan was in the $2K/month range last time I looked, and you will need an apartment in the $3-4K range if you want to be comfortable or live in a hip area. And yes, this is after the real estate crash. There certainly are cheap apartments in NY. Let me know how the commute from Flushing or Inwood works for you on a 60 hr work week :) Seriously, things look very different when you're working long hours. You will need to pay for lots of services and things that you would never consider as a student. In school you have lots of time and little money, quite the opposite of your situation on wall street. And don't forget that you will pay 50%+ taxes in NYC at a surprisingly low income level. How do the people who make $65K get by in NY? They make tough compromises in quality of life.

Ferm -- My experience is that there are lots of very smart people. I used to joke that I've met more physicists on wall street than in grad school. This said, people tend to be focused and busy. As anywhere, you can make friends at work. The people may be smart, of similar interest and personality, yet likely won't have time to "play" too much outside of work. Wall Street cannot be mistaken for academia. You may have to have a thick skin to deal with some of the more colorful personalities, and you may be surprised that these often are quants rather than MBAs...

Eren10 -- Why are you in aerospace engineering? If you want to do finance, switch to a finance PhD program or at least get an MFin. If you like economics get a PhD in that. I suspect that you may not be the only person who would like a high paying low stress job, but alas these are hard to find. Trading IS stressful, but supporting a trading desk is more stressful because you have your own stress plus all the stress which the traders are more than happy to pass along to you :) This said, your best bet is a low-impact research group -- probably fixed income. If you work for a flamboyant personality who interfaces to management and gets you resources without having to directly boost PnL, you may find yourself comfortable. Finding those spots is not easy, and there are significant career risks to being hidden within such a group.

Hope this helps.

Cheers,
Osmosis
story645
story645 is offline
#64
Mar7-10, 10:04 PM
P: 670
Quote Quote by osmosis View Post
That said, you may wish to consider whether an almost exclusively male environment would be to your taste.
My bachelors is in compE and the only other female in my research lab is one of the advisers, so more than two other girls would be a step up. Thank you (and quant) for allaying my fears.

Let me know how the commute from Flushing or Inwood works for you on a 60 hr work week :)
I've been commuting out of my borough (Queens) since high school (and I pulled more than 60hrs at lots of points), so I do know how painful it is. I got an apartment near school just so that I wouldn't have to commute, so I definitely hear you guys and the thought of paying midtown/downtown rents scares me. I broke my vow of never living in Manhattan just so that I wouldn't have a commute my last two years of undergrad, so I definitely hear where you're coming from, but I also have an inkling of how to get by in the city on almost no money. Not wanting to live in the trendy neighborhoods helps a lot, as does having pretty low standards ( I share my tiny studio with a roommate), so the whole "feeling poor" thing just doesn't worry me that much.

How do the people who make $65K get by in NY? They make tough compromises in quality of life.
The all have fake walls and 5 roommates. Living in New York all my life, I do have some idea of how people manage to survive here on pennies.
osmosis
osmosis is offline
#65
Mar7-10, 10:36 PM
P: 6
Story645 - I completely understand; I was of the same sentiment out of school (and still am, though perhaps to a lesser degree). In my experience, very few wall street newcomers have had roommates -- and those did so for non-financial reasons. Once you have the money to avoid commutes and roommates and hassle, that money tends to get spent. For me at least, the "feeling poor" thing got old pretty quickly when I had virtually no free time and had to wear a suit and tie. This isn't meant to deter you, just to warn you that you may find it hard to live quite like a student -- especially when nobody around you does. But everyone is different and if you can manage it, then that's great. It sounds like you know what you're getting into.
Eren10
Eren10 is offline
#66
Mar8-10, 07:51 AM
P: 17
Quote Quote by osmosis View Post

Eren10 -- Why are you in aerospace engineering? If you want to do finance, switch to a finance PhD program or at least get an MFin. If you like economics get a PhD in that. I suspect that you may not be the only person who would like a high paying low stress job, but alas these are hard to find. Trading IS stressful, but supporting a trading desk is more stressful because you have your own stress plus all the stress which the traders are more than happy to pass along to you :) This said, your best bet is a low-impact research group -- probably fixed income. If you work for a flamboyant personality who interfaces to management and gets you resources without having to directly boost PnL, you may find yourself comfortable. Finding those spots is not easy, and there are significant career risks to being hidden within such a group.

I choosed Aerospace engineering because I considered to go back to Turkey ( from WestEurope) and thought that it would be easier to find a job. And because of the challenge fo this study and mine interest in the high technical things.
I think if I choose to go further I will earn net start salary of 2100 Euro. But the chance to grow further in a company and earn more money will not be easy. If i can combine both knowledges I think i will have more possibilities.

Well, to find a phd place in the direction of econometrics will be difficult !? I have to follow maybe master courses and this will take an other 2 years. When I start phd than i will be about 28 years. And than 4 year ! Will this all be worth to do it ? If phd is worth to do it, i will consider a phd.
In quant direction do you also need uncertainty quantification ? in mine department there is also possibility to do phd in the uncertainty quantification in the aerodynamics. Maybe this will worth to do it ?!
BenTheMan
BenTheMan is offline
#67
May27-10, 04:44 PM
P: 478
I have been reading this thread with a lot of interest. I'm in the process of preparing for my dissertation defense, graduating (PhD, Theo. Physics) in August, and ready for something new. A friend of mine works for a Large Hedge Fund (LHF) in Chicago, and suggested I look into finance several months ago (I had been thinking McKinsey). I've been refreshing my C++ and reading a few books (Mark Joshi's first book is good, I've found, and he answers questions on his discussion forum himself).

I do have a few questions, if the experts here would indulge me.

First, what I've read that sending your resume to HR people is pretty useless (I've been sending it around for a month now with no response) and that I should be specifically applying to groups/people that I want to work with, unsolicited. My question is, how do you find contacts inside organizations? LinkedIn works SOMEtimes, but most hedge funds don't even have websites, and outside of adding the HR rep as a contact on LinkedIn, I don't know how to get in touch with these people (other than use something like pipl.com and call them at home, which probably isn't cool). I'm not really ashamed to cold-call random HR departments and promote myself (self-promotion has always been something I've been better at than most physicists!), but how do you even know who to call? I also don't mind sending random people from LinkedIn emails, but I can't do this for everyone because I don't want to pay LinkedIn for ``Gold'' (or whatever) status.

And how are these groups structured? My buddy at LHF in Chicago's group seems like a loose collaboration with minimal hierarchy, with one guy in charge (he does algorithmic trading, I think). Are most places arranged like this?

And what are the code words I should be using in my resume that make people pay attention? I don't have a lot of experience looking for jobs (I guess, as most PhDs). What are the rules when it comes to these things? I can't find any examples on-line, and the resume doctors (read: professionals) seem to be clueless as well.

Finally (I'll stop soon), it's easy to get intimidated by job postings. I don't come from a top tier university, but my advisor is a top-tier guy, and most of the people I've met at top-tier universities aren't much (or any) smarter than I am. Does the pedigree really meant that much?
twofish-quant
twofish-quant is offline
#68
May27-10, 08:26 PM
P: 6,863
Quote Quote by BenTheMan View Post
First, what I've read that sending your resume to HR people is pretty useless (I've been sending it around for a month now with no response) and that I should be specifically applying to groups/people that I want to work with, unsolicited.
For Ph.D. level jobs sending your resume to HR is indeed totally and completely useless. Ideally you want to send your resume to a good headhunter that will forward it to someone that can use it. www.dice.com and www.efinancialcareers.com have lots of HH's looking for resumes.

My question is, how do you find contacts inside organizations?
It might not hurt to send private messages to people that post on internet forums that seem to know something.

And how are these groups structured? My buddy at LHF in Chicago's group seems like a loose collaboration with minimal hierarchy, with one guy in charge (he does algorithmic trading, I think). Are most places arranged like this?
Trying to figure out what the structure of a group is half the fun of getting something done. Different places can be structured very, very differently which is a good thing since it means you'll find somewhere that you fit.

Also there is a 95% change you will end up living in NYC. I can guess for example that your friend probably works for Citadel since they are one of the few large hedge funds based in Chicago.

And what are the code words I should be using in my resume that make people pay attention?
Ph.D. in physics?

Seriously what you do need to do is to be able to summarize your dissertation so that someone that is another Ph.D. is convinced that you have the technical skills for the job.

Finally (I'll stop soon), it's easy to get intimidated by job postings. I don't come from a top tier university, but my advisor is a top-tier guy, and most of the people I've met at top-tier universities aren't much (or any) smarter than I am. Does the pedigree really meant that much?
For physics Ph.D.'s, it doesn't mean a huge amount in most places. One thing that will help you a lot is that people that come from top-tier big-name physics schools tend not to go into Wall Street, but rather go into academia. If you have a freshly minted MBA from Harvard, working at an IB is likely to be your first choice of careers, but if you have a freshly minted physics Ph.D. from Harvard, it's not, so people from big name physics schools just don't go out for these jobs very often.
BenTheMan
BenTheMan is offline
#69
May30-10, 02:29 PM
P: 478
Quote Quote by twofish-quant View Post
It might not hurt to send private messages to people that post on internet forums that seem to know something.
Hmmm...your mailbox is at maximum entropy, it looks like :)
oreliphan
oreliphan is offline
#70
Jun30-10, 07:29 PM
P: 24
Hi twofish-quant, or Osmosis:

Could you tell me a bit about a working as a broker or trader at a hedge fund in forex or gold trading?

I've recently been looking into these career paths, as opposed to a quant.
shoehorn
shoehorn is offline
#71
Jun30-10, 08:30 PM
P: 448
Quote Quote by twofish-quant View Post
For Ph.D. level jobs sending your resume to HR is indeed totally and completely useless.
There is, however, at least one important caveat to this. An increasingly large number of funds are focusing solely on algo/high-freq trading. If you have a PhD in physics - which is great, although not hugely uncommon these days - and if you have solid programming experience in Matlab/C++ - which is less common - and if you understand and can apply machine learning techniques to problems in finance - which is a rare skill for a physics PhD to have - you'll have very little difficulty in getting interviews by directly submitting your resume to this type of fund.

In fact, I'd be interested in talking to anyone who ticks all of these boxes, especially if they're in possession of a newly minted PhD.
gdwebb85
gdwebb85 is offline
#72
Feb10-12, 10:09 PM
P: 1
I have ~1-1.5 years left to finish my physics PhD. When should I start sending out resumes? Also, where does one go to find open positions?


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