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Considering carreer in finance/banking/market analysis

  1. Oct 10, 2011 #1
    Hi guys!

    The other threads I saw on this didn't quite get to my area of interest, which is:

    How reasonable is it to apply to a company which deals with financial market analysis etc, with a bachelors in science (from a good uni), and a masters in theoretical physics (also from a good uni) ?? I have mostly top grades, but my focus has been on string theory and geometry - not differential equations or statistics.

    Is it worth applying to said jobs? I am thinking London, New York and Paris... which companies deal with this kind of thing?

    Would be really great for some info as I am new to the field.
  2. jcsd
  3. Oct 13, 2011 #2
    Masters of physics can end up doing business consulting, but that's not a world I'm familiar with. I don't know of anyone with a masters of physics in investment banking, but I don't know whether this is small number samples or something else.

    IMHO, it's worth applying to anything that will pay you money. The trouble is that it's non-trivia to apply for a job. You'd think that you'd apply for a job in the same way that you'd apply for admission to a university, but it doesn't work that way.

    Ph.D. physics positions tend to be concentrated in London and NYC, but most Ph.D. physics level positions are not open to people with masters in physics that are fresh out of school. As far as names, there are roughly a dozen major investment banks and thousands of hedge funds and consulting firms in the NYC area.
  4. Oct 13, 2011 #3
    Thanks for your reply!

    Could you list some of the companies you know of? Do you think they would be interested in someone with a good mathematical training?

    In what way do you mean that the application for a job of this kind of non-trivial? Do I really have to know people or something like that? Why is it not sufficient just to send in my CV and a cover letter to the companies?

    Again, many thanks for your answers
  5. Oct 13, 2011 #4
    For a list of companies, go into wikipedia and look up banks.

    You usually have to go through headhunters, campus recruiting, or know someone. It's not sufficient to just send your CV, because most companies do not have an address or e-mail that you can send your resume to in order to get it read. If you send the resume to some random address that you find somewhere, there is a 99% chance that no human being will ever see it.
  6. Oct 13, 2011 #5
    I am not fully surprised, but this is depressing to hear... Why do they do this? Don't most companies have a HR department which takes care of applications?

    May I ask if there is anything constructive I can do to start inching my way towards an interview (or headhunter) ??

    Many thanks for your advice!
  7. Oct 17, 2011 #6
    Because sorting through applications is a very time consuming and annoying process that no one really wants to do. Also, as long as they get someone competent, your average company doesn't care how many competent people weren't reviewed.

    It makes sense if you remember that the job of hiring is mainly to get rid of people. Keeping the e-mail that you need to send your resume to somewhat secret helps get rid of people.

    No. Big companies have an HR department, but they aren't anything like an admissions department in a university.

    Figure out where the market is.

    For Ph.D. physics, the places to get started are the websites www.dice.com[/url], [url]www.efinancialcareers.com[/url], [url]www.phds.org[/URL]. You should be able to quickly get in touch with headhunters.

    Also, campus recruiting helps a lot. One way of thinking about universities is that they are sort of like "brain department stores." The big advantage of going to a university that is good at career services is that the university does the work of getting your resume to someone that can do something about it.
    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 26, 2017
  8. Oct 18, 2011 #7
    Well this is terrible news, I didn't know the employment-world would be so irritated with me. But I kinda see how it works now, thanks for taking your time to explain!
  9. Oct 18, 2011 #8


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    Homework Helper

    You might want to consider getting an MBA in finance or related business speciality.
  10. Oct 18, 2011 #9
    Long time reader, first time poster...

    Would you say the headhunters are more involved with recruiting for the obscure hedge funds, or the large, well-known investment banks, or both?

    And as a physics PhD expecting to finish in late summer/early fall of next year, when would be the ideal time to start contacting them?
  11. Oct 18, 2011 #10
    Both. Different firms sometimes focus on different niches, but everyone uses headhunters.


    Even if you aren't ready to actively look for work, getting a list of e-mail and phone numbers for people that will talk to you is very useful. One thing that makes industry very different from academia is that every university has a email and phone number that you can mail your application to, and every university will at least send you a reject letter. It doesn't work that way in business where you have to spend a good month or two figuring out who to send your resume to, and in 95% of the time, you send your resume and you hear nothing at all.
  12. Oct 18, 2011 #11
    It depends on what you want to do with your life. If your primary goal in life is to get a job in sales and trading in an investment bank, then it makes no real sense to study physics at the graduate level.

    However, my primary goal in life is to study physics, and the only reason that I'm interested in finance is that it's the closest thing that I could realistically find, and that gives a different set of decisions.
  13. Oct 27, 2011 #12
    So since quant jobs are not mostly gotten through the university recruiting system, does it matter what time in the year you apply? Are some times better than others?
  14. Oct 28, 2011 #13
    Do you think the job for quant will be still existing for physics phd in the next 10~15 years?
    What if you are canadian, can you still work at wall street? Do they employ canadians?
  15. Oct 28, 2011 #14
    There is more hiring in the spring after people get their bonus checks and play musical chairs and again in the fall when companies are set up for new students.

    On the other hand, it's not like academia when there is a strict schedule for admissions. It's more like NYC subways. There are more of them at certain times, but the fact that there are more trains at 5:00 p.m. shouldn't stop you from going to the station at 3:00 a.m.
  16. Oct 28, 2011 #15
    No clue.

    Canadians are easy to hire because there is a special NAFTA for professional workers that doesn't require the company to do anything complicated. Also NYC isn't that far from Canada, so there are a ton of Canadians on Wall Street.
  17. Oct 30, 2011 #16

    I love how you just said no clue LOL
    and I agree
  18. Feb 1, 2012 #17
    If the candidate is from mathematics background or from physics then he/she can try in research areas where the career is very bright. Software industry could also be a good option. If you are going to apply in these area, then try to prepare a nice and ideal resume along with the cover letter as it has become the need of the hour.
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