How To Tell A Career in Quantitative Finance Is Right For You | Top Universities

How To Tell A Career in Quantitative Finance Is Right For You

By Laura Bridgestock

Updated March 19, 2021 Updated March 19, 2021

Sponsored by emlyon business school

Demand for quantitative finance analysts has skyrocketed over recent years, spurred on by the way the 2008 financial crisis really laid bare the foundational weaknesses within our financial systems. This is where quantitative finance comes in. To reduce risk and avoid future crashes, many firms are hiring trained quantitative analysts to help them resolve financial and risk management problems.

What do quantitative analysts, or quants as they are known in the business, do exactly? They apply mathematical and statistical knowledge to real-life cases and devise models to help firms make better-informed financial and business decisions when it comes to pricing, investment and so on.

If you’re still unsure what field to study at university, stay on the lookout for some of these signs…You might have a happy and prosperous career in quantitative finance ahead of you.  

You’re a rational thinker and question everything  

Some of the best quants have a background in physics, mathematics or computer science because they’ve been trained to avoid relying on too many assumptions and can think through problems methodically and scientifically, whether it comes to business decisions or perfecting their quantitative models.

You’re a math whizz with good communication skills

Contrary to popular belief, the best quants are not back-office introverts. Most of them actually have exceptional social skills. It’s not enough to have a keen analytical mind and extraordinary number-crunching skills, you should also be able to communicate your findings in an interesting way, so the results of your hard work actually get put to good use.

It’s one thing to build a great pricing model and quite another to convince your boss to adopt it. That’s why you should have great internal marketing skills and the inability to convey dry information to your average Joe in a compelling way.

You’re a math and programming geek

A huge part of your day-to-day activities will involve manipulating enormous databases and complicated software. You’ll need good math and computer programming skills to build mathematical models with technology staff. Most firms will use C++, but job requirements vary depending on the employer. Other programming languages you might be asked to learn to work in quantitative finance include Java, Python, SQL and .NET.  You should also know your way around statistical analysis software like Matlab or SAS and have high-level proficiency in Excel.

You’re financially motivated

Quantitative finance jobs are rewarding financially as well as intellectually. Salaries tend to be quite high, with most available roles concentrated in major financial centers like Paris, London New York and Hong Kong. The average pay for a quantitative analyst is US$111,071 in New York, £65,975 (US$93,681) in London and €65,000 (US$80,295) in Paris.

So, you’ve figured out you’d like to be a quant. What next?

After your undergraduate degree, which ideally should be in business, engineering, math or finance to give you a grounding in mathematics, programming and probability, your best bet would be to pursue a specialised master’s in quantitative finance and build experience in trading or business. After this, you can break off into pure quantitative analysis, where your first-hand experience of business and expertise in quantitative analysis will be highly valued.

Does this sound like a career you’d be interested in? Download a brochure about emlyon business school’s Specialised Programme in Quantitative Finance, or attend an information session.

This article was originally published in April 2018 . It was last updated in March 2021

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