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arch8ngel said:   AlgoEngine said:   @arch8angel
I have considered the patent attorney option. I did not think of it in respect to ME or AE. Since I am CE, would that limit me considerably?


For the patent attorney option, I have gathered from friends that if you can hack law school, an ME from GT makes it nearly a sure-thing. With a degree in CE, you'd want to do your research first, but I think the perception would be that you had less exposure to the mechanical design side of things, whether it's actually the case, or not.


GT ME patent attorney here.

first, you can "hack" law school--it was WAY easier than GTME. Second, having an ME puts you in a weak position for patent attorney jobs. the vast majority of jobs are for EEs. If you're got a phd in bio, you can get a pharma patent job. ME has been a tough road. i was in the top 10 of my class after my first year--law review and moot court--and finished top 15% and have had virtually no traction in getting a job with a large firm, based solely on my undergrad degree.

besides, the debt isn't worth law school right now.

makinbutter said:   dshibb said:   Why go to GT if a place like Carnegie Mellon will accept you? First see how high on the list you can get I bet it's higher than you would be able to on the MBA list.


GT is a top-25 business school based largely on its quant programs, and tuition is minuscule compared to CM, as GT is a public institution with one of the lowest tuition rates in the country.


A quick glance has in state at GT around $15k and Carnegie Mellon at around $38k.

And it's like you're comparing U-Penn Wharton to GT in MBA with a fraction of the tuition difference.

**If you can go to Carnegie Mellon or Stanford or U of. Chicago for quant degree you go to Carnegie Mellon or Stanford or U of. Chicago for a quant degree.

Who the hell would turn down Wharton for Georgia Tech in an MBA? Precisely!

dshibb said:   makinbutter said:   dshibb said:   Why go to GT if a place like Carnegie Mellon will accept you? First see how high on the list you can get I bet it's higher than you would be able to on the MBA list.


GT is a top-25 business school based largely on its quant programs, and tuition is minuscule compared to CM, as GT is a public institution with one of the lowest tuition rates in the country.


A quick glance has in state at GT around $15k and Carnegie Mellon at around $38k.

And it's like you're comparing U-Penn Wharton to GT in MBA with a fraction of the tuition difference.

**If you can go to Carnegie Mellon or Stanford or U of. Chicago for quant degree you go to Carnegie Mellon or Stanford or U of. Chicago for a quant degree.

Who the hell would turn down Wharton for Georgia Tech in an MBA? Precisely!


http://grad-schools.usnews.rankingsandreviews.com/best-graduate-...

CM = #19 at $55,800 per year
GT = #27 at $25,300 per year

you're telling me 8 spots on a list is worth more than double tuition? you already had someone post in this thread that GT quant grads are making $250k/yr.

Carnegie Mellon is not Stanford, U of Chicago, or Wharton. Neither is GT, but CM is not in that league at all, so making that comparison is really a red herring.

double post

makinbutter, Masters in Quantitative/Computational Finance is not an MBA. (shakes head)

Quant program rankings

Source 1:
1) Carnegie Melon
2) Princeton
3) Columbia (financial engineering)
4) NYU
5) Baruch
6) Stanford
6) Berkeley
8) Columbia (math of finance)
9) Cornell
10 MIT

14) Georgia Tech


Source 2
1) CM
2) Columbia
3) Cornell
4) MIT
5) NYU
6) Princeton
7) Rutgers
8) Stanford
9) Berkeley
10) U Chicago

G. Tech gets an honorable mention

JamesPolk said:   I was in a similar situation as you about 18 months ago (I have a BS in Civil Engineering w/ a Structural Concentration). I found a 1 year masters program that did applied statistics in the Big Data realm. You wouldn't believe the opportunities in this field. I more than doubled my starting engineering salary and there doesn't seem to be an upper limit. Hottest job of 21st century: Data Science Shortage of Big Data analysts
If you dont mind:
What school/program did you specifically attend?
How far were you into your career (after BS in Civil Engineering) before you decided to make this switch?

dshibb said:   Why go to GT if a place like Carnegie Mellon will accept you? First see how high on the list you can get I bet it's higher than you would be able to on the MBA list.


I was making the leap that a two-degree GT grad in something mundane like CE stayed in the state of GA and probably likes living in Atlanta.

Also, as an alum, he may get some selection preference for tuition waivers/stipends if he pumps his network correctly.

Any chance you could move more towards the account/sales side of things within engineering and be happy? So long as there is a product, most companies have some sort of technical sales type position usually under the guise of applications or sales engineer, possibly account manager. Bit of a stretch from finance but closer and still in demand, lots of jobs to move around to.

If you are bored with straight engineering but have a good understanding of your field, it is usually not too hard to move into jobs where you are dealing more with numbers and people and less with engineering, if that is your preference and you have the personality/charisma/talking skills to do so. Two completely different skill sets and there is always a demand for such people. Engineer with people skills and sales guy with engineering skills are both hard guys to find.

Apply your finance enthusiasm to your own finances. As a sales guy you'll have plenty of time to do so.

arch8ngel said:   dshibb said:   Why go to GT if a place like Carnegie Mellon will accept you? First see how high on the list you can get I bet it's higher than you would be able to on the MBA list.


I was making the leap that a two-degree GT grad in something mundane like CE stayed in the state of GA and probably likes living in Atlanta.

Also, as an alum, he may get some selection preference for tuition waivers/stipends if he pumps his network correctly.


Well if he's going to stay in Georgia than he shouldn't get a quant degree and instead get the MBA.

It's just not as practical. He can go off to maybe CT for a couple years and then wait until maybe some small investment firm back in Atlanta will basically hand him the reigns allowing him to come back, but getting a quant degree and wanting to stay in Georgia is like getting a degree from the top school in film and wanting to live in Kansas instead of LA or NYC. I mean it's just not practical.

FranksandBeans said:   Any chance you could move more towards the account/sales side of things within engineering and be happy? So long as there is a product, most companies have some sort of technical sales type position usually under the guise of applications or sales engineer, possibly account manager. Bit of a stretch from finance but closer and still in demand, lots of jobs to move around to.

If you are bored with straight engineering but have a good understanding of your field, it is usually not too hard to move into jobs where you are dealing more with numbers and people and less with engineering, if that is your preference and you have the personality/charisma/talking skills to do so. Two completely different skill sets and there is always a demand for such people. Engineer with people skills and sales guy with engineering skills are both hard guys to find.

Apply your finance enthusiasm to your own finances. As a sales guy you'll have plenty of time to do so.


Franksandbeans, I presume by his interest in financial engineering and algorithmic trading that he isn't wanting to get into finance to be a salesman.

Instead it would be my guess that finance(or particularly that side of finance) appeals to him because of a love for analysis and complex puzzles; I don't see how becoming a sales oriented account manager in the engineering space is going to give him that.

dshibb said:   arch8ngel said:   dshibb said:   Why go to GT if a place like Carnegie Mellon will accept you? First see how high on the list you can get I bet it's higher than you would be able to on the MBA list.


I was making the leap that a two-degree GT grad in something mundane like CE stayed in the state of GA and probably likes living in Atlanta.

Also, as an alum, he may get some selection preference for tuition waivers/stipends if he pumps his network correctly.


Well if he's going to stay in Georgia than he shouldn't get a quant degree and instead get the MBA.

It's just not as practical. He can go off to maybe CT for a couple years and then wait until maybe some small investment firm back in Atlanta will basically hand him the reigns allowing him to come back, but getting a quant degree and wanting to stay in Georgia is like getting a degree from the top school in film and wanting to live in Kansas instead of LA or NYC. I mean it's just not practical.


I'm sorry I wasn't more clear. I meant continuing to live in Atlanta for the time he was doing the degree.

Obviously the worthwhile opportunities for quants are in places like NYC.

dshibb said:   makinbutter, Masters in Quantitative/Computational Finance is not an MBA. (shakes head) and what i posted isn't a list of best MBA degrees, now is it? (shakes head)

If you're going to spend $100K on an MBA, why not put that into your own startup?

makinbutter said:   dshibb said:   makinbutter, Masters in Quantitative/Computational Finance is not an MBA. (shakes head) and what i posted isn't a list of best MBA degrees, now is it? (shakes head)

Actually yes it is. Best business schools refers to MBAs. Those are quotes for MBA tuition.

@ankitgu
The cost of additional schooling is always a concern I have. Some people say that it shouldn't be a concern, but I just don't have unlimited trust in whatever industry I'd be working in to always provide me a well paid job.
I have been wanting to generate some passive income. Thats why I've been so interested in algorithmic training, even if it only generates a moderate return. But a more practical way would be through some type of real estate. Can you elaborate or provide some information on how you are pursuing this? This has been an interest of mine but has been pushed to the back burner.

@dshibb
You are very confident about getting a quant degree. I want to have your level of confidence as well. Can you give me some insight on how you arrived there? If all what you are saying is true about that different types of careers a quant can have, then quant does seem like an obvious choice. Having a variety of careers to "fall back on" is a high priorty of mine. Thats why I first thought that an MBA would be the best choice.

@makinbutter
Thanks for confirming my thoughts on law school. I was heading in that direction earlier but convinced myself that it might not be the best option.

@dshibb, @makinbutter, @arch8ngel
Addressing the feud that transpired:

I would love the option of staying in Atlanta and getting a quant degree. I could stay at my current job and avoid taking out any additional loans while in the program. I could still be close to family and friends. But I know I can't be too idealistic. If going to GT isn't the best choice, I need to be willing to go somewhere else. I hope the GT would be good enough though. The low tuition is icing on the cake too! And the quant program is ranked #14 which is pretty high. But its not top 5. If GT quant grads are really making $250k/yr, then I would just stay in Atlanta and go to GT.
arch8angle is right on this point. Since I have 2 degrees already from GT, I would think that I could get some selection preference.
And yes, I would love to be able to stay in GA for my career, and a quant degree would not be very useful if I did that. But I also think I could stomach a few years away in NY after school and try to come back like dshibb said.

@FranksandBeans
I have thought about that type of job before. However, there isn't alot of products for structural engineers that require salesmen. I do hear that they make pretty decent money. And I think I have to people skills for that type of job, but I haven't seen any openings for something like that in my current job searches.

AlgoEngine said:   
@dshibb, @makinbutter, @arch8ngel
Addressing the feud that transpired:

I would love the option of staying in Atlanta and getting a quant degree. I could stay at my current job and avoid taking out any additional loans while in the program. I could still be close to family and friends. But I know I can't be too idealistic. If going to GT isn't the best choice, I need to be willing to go somewhere else. I hope the GT would be good enough though. The low tuition is icing on the cake too! And the quant program is ranked #14 which is pretty high. But its not top 5. If GT quant grads are really making $250k/yr, then I would just stay in Atlanta and go to GT.
arch8angle is right on this point. Since I have 2 degrees already from GT, I would think that I could get some selection preference.
And yes, I would love to be able to stay in GA for my career, and a quant degree would not be very useful if I did that. But I also think I could stomach a few years away in NY after school and try to come back like dshibb said.


The quant grads I know making the big money are definitely moving to NYC to do it. I don't know of any working in Atlanta (though I'm sure some exist). We're talking about an industry that pays a premium to have individual servers closer to the stock exchange computers so that they can minimize trading latency, so certainly the final systems are never going to be that far away.

I've mentored some GT MBA/MS. Fin. kids in the past. They were not in roles to make $250k/yr (at least not initially). Funny tho, the MBA kids were not able to find finance jobs where as the quant degrees were at least able to get their foot in the door. Of the MS. Fin guys, one landed a programming job for a quant fund, another one became a derivatives sales & trading associate. Bottom line is, if you think a quant degree will automatically guarantee $250k/yr, then you're in for a rude surprise. I have an acquaintance with a BS, MS, ph. D physics, MS. Fin (from Carnegie Mellon) who busted his ass trying to find a job, then was only able to land on the sell-side at a non bulge bracket bank as a derivatives sales associate.

Of course, these are anecdotal and you should take my opinion with a grain of salt. OP, do not get siren-songed into doing a degree just because someone on the interwebs says THIS DEGREE PAYS $X. Figure out what you want to do before getting another degree.

Just saw this update:

"My ideal finance career would be something on the side of portfolio management, market analysis, trading/investing, and the like. I have basic programming knowledge. I have used mainly Matlab and some python. I am interested in algorithmic trading and have actually created a number of trading algorithms in which I am currently backtesting and optimizing. I have partnered with a friend of mine that is better equipped at coding (he has a M. Comp. Sci.). We are currently working on our own trading platform in which we would implement the trading algo. So, I would love to be able to work on that full-time. But its not to that point yet. In getting an MBA, I hope that would be beneficial for my side venture."


MBA will not help...at all.

@puckah18
Thanks for sharing your thoughts on the subject. Did I miss the window where quants were in high demand? Can you provide me any more insight?
What degree would be give me the finance career opportunities that I mentioned in the original post? What path would you suggest that I take?
You mentioned that I should figure out what I want to do before getting another degree. I want to be in a better, more lucrative industry than I am currently. And be able to have confidence that I will still have a job 2 months from now. Structural engineering provides none of that. I am open-minded to the direction that I should take. I am entertaining many different degrees. I know roughly what type a job I want, but I don't the a specific job I want. I definitely need to figure that out and am using this platform among other ways to aid me in this process. It seems that you know this field pretty well, and I would appreciate any advice you can give me.

puckah18, nobody said that a person is guaranteed $250k right out of a quant degree.

What I did say is that if you land a basic quant position out of college(which you should) ~3 years of good work and some good interview skills and you *should* be able get to a job in a quant hedge fund for $250k.

-Starting out of college should be around $100-120k + bonus.
-There is no way that you could be in a better position to get involved with algorithmic trading than a quant degree
-There is no degree that leaves you in a better position to walk into hedge fund sector sooner than anybody else
-If you're not making large money from doing quant work at a hedge fund that hedge fund should know that after you've joined them(especially with that background and doing that type of work) and done that you're a hot commodity to every fund out there and if they don't pay you a large salary one of their competitors will.

Now if you are a terrible interviewer, don't do good work, not very likable at all, etc. then it doesn't really matter what education you get you'll be stunted in your progress.

But there is no better way to enter that side of finance than with a quant degree. And if you got an MBA it would just be you making journal entries and going through case studies of what you would do if you were Ben and Jerry's with x problem. In a quant degree you would learn financial mathematics that .00001% of the world is even capable of understanding.

Long term the latter seems more valuable to me, but I don't know maybe Ben and Jerry's case study is the ticket being valuable to other people and I'm wrong

Have you considered joining one of the consulting firms? Try MBB or some other highly regarded boutiques (the Oliver Wyman's of the world) first. If they don't take you - the Big 4 may work. Even lower down the hierarchy are Accenture/IBM and the like.

The reason I mention consulting is:
1. They offer a lot more flexibility in choosing the field you want to be in. Don't like the current concentration, talk to your mentor and probably he can fit you in some other initiative in another field. Or, just find another job with another firm who will.
2. There seems to be a trend right now where a lot of these consulting firms are trying to hire more "Subject Matter Expert"s than generalists. A Structural Engineering degree fits this bill in a whole host of arena's that the consulting firms engage in. So if you try hard enough - you'll find something. Plus you live in Atlanta - one of the best domestic hubs in US for easy air travel to anywhere.
3. A couple of years with any of these prestigious firms and you will push the school rank where you will be accepted for both MBA/Quant. programs.
4. In my experience, typical engineering graduates lack people skills and other soft skills that are necessary almost in every industry. I don't know specifically about you, but it applied to everyone I knew (myself included) except for an extremely tiny minority. If you need improvements there - the higher end of these consulting firms will fix you quick. If no improvements are necessary - a couple of years there on your resume without getting fired will validate your people/soft skills in your future job hunt.

This could be the easiest and most painless (no salary cut - potential increase in fact for majority 10-year tenure engineers, no need to move, lots of fallback options, resume shows progressive continuity) way to make your foray into a new career.

AlgoEngine said:   @puckah18
Thanks for sharing your thoughts on the subject. Did I miss the window where quants were in high demand? Can you provide me any more insight?
What degree would be give me the finance career opportunities that I mentioned in the original post? What path would you suggest that I take?
You mentioned that I should figure out what I want to do before getting another degree. I want to be in a better, more lucrative industry than I am currently. And be able to have confidence that I will still have a job 2 months from now. Structural engineering provides none of that. I am open-minded to the direction that I should take. I am entertaining many different degrees. I know roughly what type a job I want, but I don't the a specific job I want. I definitely need to figure that out and am using this platform among other ways to aid me in this process. It seems that you know this field pretty well, and I would appreciate any advice you can give me.


From your description, you best CHANCE for your dream career would be what dshibb described: top ranked MS. Fin/Financial Engineering degree. Keep in mind, this industry is lucrative, but has Z E R O job security. People don't leave $250k/yr jobs...they're usually forced out. I find it funny that you would think a finance job is more secure than a structural engineering job; it all boils down to performance on the job (any job). Just that when you're in a hedge fund you're graded every month/quarter and not given any slack.

Also, considering that you're into quant trading, you should take consideration of the location of the school. I would pick Columbia (#2 ranked) over the top ranked Carnegie Mellon any day just due to the proximity of potential employers. A large set of trading firms are located in NYC just because they are closer to the action, who knows, some might allow you to be an intern on days when you don't have class. This is probably harder to achieve in Pittsburgh. In financial services, the key is networking. Let's assume 5 years after your graduation, you're ready to start your own firm, I would bet that the rolodex you've built in Columbia (which should include MBA students too) would be worth a lot more than that of Carnegie Mellon.

I see that you want a "better, more lucrative" career. Well, there's no such thing as "better." The best careers are ones you enjoy. On lucrativeness, I think there's no better risk to reward potential than a hedge fund. The path to getting a hedge fund is MUCH harder than anything else tho.

>> The path to getting a hedge fund is MUCH harder than anything else tho.

One trick of the trade is to focus on some obscure part of the market.

I've seen more than one people with mediocre MBA -> focus on something very niche (e.g. Electricity Congestion Revenue Rights trading in the ERCOT region) at a mediocre firm -> Commodities division in a hedge fund -> Oil trader.

Of course - it's a risky route and you have to be lucky enough to do very well in all of these stages (luck, much more than capability is often the determinant in my opinion, specially for these jobs) often involving very thinly traded and illiquid parts of the market with its own myriad issues. But, that's a route I've seen many non-Ivy guys take.

puckah18, doesn't Carnegie Mellon have a New York campus for it's quant program?


puckah18 said:   AlgoEngine said:   @puckah18
Thanks for sharing your thoughts on the subject. Did I miss the window where quants were in high demand? Can you provide me any more insight?
What degree would be give me the finance career opportunities that I mentioned in the original post? What path would you suggest that I take?
You mentioned that I should figure out what I want to do before getting another degree. I want to be in a better, more lucrative industry than I am currently. And be able to have confidence that I will still have a job 2 months from now. Structural engineering provides none of that. I am open-minded to the direction that I should take. I am entertaining many different degrees. I know roughly what type a job I want, but I don't the a specific job I want. I definitely need to figure that out and am using this platform among other ways to aid me in this process. It seems that you know this field pretty well, and I would appreciate any advice you can give me.


From your description, you best CHANCE for your dream career would be what dshibb described: top ranked MS. Fin/Financial Engineering degree. Keep in mind, this industry is lucrative, but has Z E R O job security. People don't leave $250k/yr jobs...they're usually forced out. I find it funny that you would think a finance job is more secure than a structural engineering job; it all boils down to performance on the job (any job). Just that when you're in a hedge fund you're graded every month/quarter and not given any slack.

Also, considering that you're into quant trading, you should take consideration of the location of the school. I would pick Columbia (#2 ranked) over the top ranked Carnegie Mellon any day just due to the proximity of potential employers. A large set of trading firms are located in NYC just because they are closer to the action, who knows, some might allow you to be an intern on days when you don't have class. This is probably harder to achieve in Pittsburgh. In financial services, the key is networking. Let's assume 5 years after your graduation, you're ready to start your own firm, I would bet that the rolodex you've built in Columbia (which should include MBA students too) would be worth a lot more than that of Carnegie Mellon.

I see that you want a "better, more lucrative" career. Well, there's no such thing as "better." The best careers are ones you enjoy. On lucrativeness, I think there's no better risk to reward potential than a hedge fund. The path to getting a hedge fund is MUCH harder than anything else tho.


But if you do get forced out being ex-hedge fund you're not going to have to much trouble finding work.
1) If you're personable just about any wealth management group in the country will give you either a spot on a team or hand you a retirees book of business if they have one to give.
2) Any mutual fund firm in the country will gladly give an ex hedge fund guy a spot in their team. Hell they'll put you on the fast track for portfolio manager to get you. No doubt their existing portfolio managers probably only have a CFA, MBA, and work on sell side + buy side research. A top quant grad with experience in a quant hedge fund is 5 times more valuable than the pedigree just mentioned.

Basically I guess what I'm saying is that if you have D.E. Shaw on your resume that is your job security after the fact.

If let's say you picked Columbia you would be studying under Emanuel Derman who likely is in the top 500 mathematical minds in the world and probably the top 100 financial mathematical minds in the world. If you can't turn a productive life out of soaking in everything you can from a people like him something is seriously wrong.

If you want to see him here is a documentary he was interviewed in: Quants: Alchemists of Wall Street

dshibb said:   

But if you do get forced out being ex-hedge fund you're not going to have to much trouble finding work.
1) If you're personable just about any wealth management group in the country will give you either a spot on a team or hand you a retirees book of business if they have one to give.
2) Any mutual fund firm in the country will gladly give an ex hedge fund guy a spot in their team. Hell they'll put you on the fast track for portfolio manager to get you. No doubt their existing portfolio managers probably only have a CFA, MBA, and work on sell side + buy side research. A top quant grad with experience in a quant hedge fund is 5 times more valuable than the pedigree just mentioned.

Basically I guess what I'm saying is that if you have D.E. Shaw on your resume that is your job security after the fact.


1) No doubt top education opens a lot of doors, but my personal observations are very different. Wealth management firms love candidates with branded MBA and local ties. I haven't bumped into anyone in my town (albeit not really a financial capital of the US) in wealth management who had a quant background. Wharton, U of Chi, HBS MBA seem to be the norm. I was under the impression that quants are so specific in their expertise that unless someone had a derivatives or numerically driven product there's no need for a quant. My firm prefers MBA/CFAs over MS. Fin. Eng.

2) This I somewhat disagree; anyone worthy to be fast tracked would not be the ones forced out. Firms rather spend the money and the promise of accelerated career path to poach people who are still employed. CFA + top MBA + sell side and buy side experience is less than 0.2x the worth of "any" hedge fund analyst w/ D.E. Shaw background? You must be joking.....

OP, you can see that there are points that I disagree with dshibb...this also illustrates something: there's no one way to get in finance and no "best" background. Each firm (especially on the buy side) has their own strategy and culture, a portion of your career path will depend on luck. Having a great resume only enhances your chances against others.

dshibb said:   puckah18, doesn't Carnegie Mellon have a New York campus for it's quant program?

Yes they do, but my main point with Columbia is their rolodex. For example, Columbia has 750 students graduating w/ an MBA each year, vs 200 for Tepper. That's almost 4x the potential contact points in the future. Quants are smart, but let's face it: they're not very personable. Eventually the OP will find that classmates w/ MBAs are more diverse and useful when building his own firm. For example, if the OP actually strikes it big with an algorithm, he'll likely want to start his own shop. Well, how do you recruit employees and establish contacts to raise money for you? B-school contacts, imo, are the only reason worthy for anyone with talent to get an MBA. My point is, #1 vs #2 is probably just splitting hairs in terms of prestige, Columbia seems to have a more established network in terms of bang for the buck on tuition.

puckah18 said:   dshibb said:   

But if you do get forced out being ex-hedge fund you're not going to have to much trouble finding work.
1) If you're personable just about any wealth management group in the country will give you either a spot on a team or hand you a retirees book of business if they have one to give.
2) Any mutual fund firm in the country will gladly give an ex hedge fund guy a spot in their team. Hell they'll put you on the fast track for portfolio manager to get you. No doubt their existing portfolio managers probably only have a CFA, MBA, and work on sell side + buy side research. A top quant grad with experience in a quant hedge fund is 5 times more valuable than the pedigree just mentioned.

Basically I guess what I'm saying is that if you have D.E. Shaw on your resume that is your job security after the fact.


1) No doubt top education opens a lot of doors, but my personal observations are very different. Wealth management firms love candidates with branded MBA and local ties. I haven't bumped into anyone in my town (albeit not really a financial capital of the US) in wealth management who had a quant background. Wharton, U of Chi, HBS MBA seem to be the norm. I was under the impression that quants are so specific in their expertise that unless someone had a derivatives or numerically driven product there's no need for a quant. My firm prefers MBA/CFAs over MS. Fin. Eng.

2) This I somewhat disagree; anyone worthy to be fast tracked would not be the ones forced out. Firms rather spend the money and the promise of accelerated career path to poach people who are still employed. CFA + top MBA + sell side and buy side experience is less than 0.2x the worth of "any" hedge fund analyst w/ D.E. Shaw background? You must be joking.....

OP, you can see that there are points that I disagree with dshibb...this also illustrates something: there's no one way to get in finance and no "best" background. Each firm (especially on the buy side) has their own strategy and culture, a portion of your career path will depend on luck. Having a great resume only enhances your chances against others.


1) Wealth management firms will hire a kid out of college to sink or swim on their own revenue without much thought. Giving a book of business is reserved for people that they perceive to have value. Buy side or sell side experience is going to have no problem getting at least a small book.

2) Mutual fund firms don't get hedge fund caliber quants easily. They want them they'll have to take a reject because there is no reason why a successful hedge fund quant would leave the hedge fund world to go work at a mutual fund firm unless they were basically being given a fund themselves to run or could be given a role that would soon lead to that. You're telling me that some Yale guy will 3 years in the sell side with a CFA is going to get a job at a mutual fund firm before a quant with a degree at one of the top 5 MS*F programs, 3-4 years at a bulge bracket and 2 years at a hedge fund only because the hedge fund guy got forced out at the end? That doesn't make any sense to me. The quant's math talent alone just from school would dominate the other guy in terms of what he could bring to the table in raw knowledge and every smart mutual fund firm in the country realizes that if you've worked at a quant hedge fund you've seen some pretty amazing models and they want to hire you if for no other reason to spill the beans.

dshibb said:   

1) Wealth management firms will hire a kid out of college to sink or swim on their own revenue without much thought. Giving a book of business is reserved for people that they perceive to have value. Buy side or sell side experience is going to have no problem getting at least a small book.

2) Mutual fund firms don't get hedge fund caliber quants easily. They want them they'll have to take a reject because there is no reason why a successful hedge fund quant would leave the hedge fund world to go work at a mutual fund firm unless they were basically being given a fund themselves to run or could be given a role that would soon lead to that. You're telling me that some Yale guy will 3 years in the sell side with a CFA is going to get a job at a mutual fund firm before a quant with a degree at one of the top 5 MS*F programs, 3-4 years at a bulge bracket and 2 years at a hedge fund only because the hedge fund guy got forced out at the end? That doesn't make any sense to me. The quant's math talent alone just from school would dominate the other guy in terms of what he could bring to the table in raw knowledge and every smart mutual fund firm in the country realizes that if you've worked at a quant hedge fund you've seen some pretty amazing models and they want to hire you if for no other reason to spill the beans.

Yale is not top 5 mba (not in finance anyway). Yale guy w/ 3 yrs sell exp of course isn't worth as much as a top MSF grad w/ 6 yrs combined exp. You want to compare apples to apples, lets compare the following candidates:

A: Columbia MSF, 4 yr sell side derivatives sales & trading associate, 2 years at Citadel.
B: Harvard MBA, CFA charter, 4 years research associate at bulge bracket, 2 years at Legg Mason/Fidelity.

Candiate B will DANCE CIRCLES AROUND candidate A in the volume of interviews he can receive...which has a higher chance of landing a job. Not because B is a "better" candidate, but in terms of applicable positions that are available. Mutual funds are not yet quant focused, so the number of positions available to quants are just not that ample. As for wealth management, the odds of a quant landing a job over a top MBA/CFA are even lower. Have you been to a meeting where a quant fund analyst is trying to pitch to a pension consulting firm? Those professionals from the pension consulting firm could barely understand the quant. Now imagine the same quant trying to explain his methods to a 70 yr old widow who just inherited 20 million from her husband who was in the metals business. For a quant to be given a job, highly likely. For a quant to be given a book of business? A lot less likely.

May I ask what is your background and where are you pulling your resources? I'll admit my opinions are mostly anecdotal, but what you're describing is not the financial services industry that I'm in.

puckah18 said:   dshibb said:   

1) Wealth management firms will hire a kid out of college to sink or swim on their own revenue without much thought. Giving a book of business is reserved for people that they perceive to have value. Buy side or sell side experience is going to have no problem getting at least a small book.

2) Mutual fund firms don't get hedge fund caliber quants easily. They want them they'll have to take a reject because there is no reason why a successful hedge fund quant would leave the hedge fund world to go work at a mutual fund firm unless they were basically being given a fund themselves to run or could be given a role that would soon lead to that. You're telling me that some Yale guy will 3 years in the sell side with a CFA is going to get a job at a mutual fund firm before a quant with a degree at one of the top 5 MS*F programs, 3-4 years at a bulge bracket and 2 years at a hedge fund only because the hedge fund guy got forced out at the end? That doesn't make any sense to me. The quant's math talent alone just from school would dominate the other guy in terms of what he could bring to the table in raw knowledge and every smart mutual fund firm in the country realizes that if you've worked at a quant hedge fund you've seen some pretty amazing models and they want to hire you if for no other reason to spill the beans.


Yale is not top 5 mba (not in finance anyway). Yale guy w/ 3 yrs sell exp of course isn't worth as much as a top MSF grad w/ 6 yrs combined exp. You want to compare apples to apples, lets compare the following candidates:

A: Columbia MSF, 4 yr sell side derivatives sales & trading associate, 2 years at Citadel.
B: Harvard MBA, CFA charter, 4 years research associate at bulge bracket, 2 years at Legg Mason/Fidelity.

Candiate B will DANCE CIRCLES AROUND candidate A in the volume of interviews he can receive...which has a higher chance of landing a job. Not because B is a "better" candidate, but in terms of applicable positions that are available. Mutual funds are not yet quant focused, so the number of positions available to quants are just not that ample. As for wealth management, the odds of a quant landing a job over a top MBA/CFA are even lower. Have you been to a meeting where a quant fund analyst is trying to pitch to a pension consulting firm? Those professionals from the pension consulting firm could barely understand the quant. Now imagine the same quant trying to explain his methods to a 70 yr old widow who just inherited 20 million from her husband who was in the metals business. For a quant to be given a job, highly likely. For a quant to be given a book of business? A lot less likely.

May I ask what is your background and where are you pulling your resources? I'll admit my opinions are mostly anecdotal, but what you're describing is not the financial services industry that I'm in.


Wealth management.

From my vantage point I see an industry more in awe of smart quants than anything else.

It is easier to get into a top quant school than it is to get into top MBA because the latter is more versatile and because the former is more focused and much, much harder once you get there and it deters people away from trying. So top quant school and an MBA a few spots down is likely the correct comparison.

I did try to clarify my response with "is personable". I don't think your typical quant could sufficiently calibrate his explanations to the level of knowledge of the person listening to him, but if they could I see no reason why they wouldn't be a hot commodity in the mutual fund space or even let on a wealth management team or maybe even given a book of business if the firm had any reason to believe they could sell as well(likely not very common among that type of person). Again if the person is incapable of divorcing themselves from full scale nerd for a second than no their options would be limited and they would be limited if they went MBA as well.



puckah18, lets say you're a non quant focused mutual fund. You have 2 candidates in front of you a quant from the hedge fund world and just another MBA new to the buy side. What can the 2nd guy do that the first can't? What can the 1st guy do that the 2nd guy can't?

Point? Guy 1 probably understands 90% of what the guy 2 does on valuation, trading, etc. Guy 2 probably understands 5% of the methods guy 1 does in advanced mathematics. Example: The MBA will come in and just like 99% of his buddies discount free cash flow and probably produce the same results as everybody else. The quant will come in and will not only calculate discount free cash flow, but calculate it's convexity(like maybe 1% of the funds out there). If I'm an investor which one do I want? Forget the buddy, buddy crap with the manager also being from Harvard which one should the hiring manager pick.


The fact is that the quant will always be more useful. You can claim that the politics of the world is still as such that you're MBA alumni and friends will take care of you, but let's be honest you have a fraction of the value that a quant brings to a firm. 20 years ago quants was a derogatory term used to describe a very small quantity of nerds(mostly from physics and applied mathematics) who everybody just thought they had to tolerate to handle a minority of roles in financial services.

In 20 years they basically took over everything of consequence in the institutional space. They completely took over the piping of the fixed income world. Then walked in and completely took over derivatives. As of the last few couple years they now represent about 70% of the equity trade volume and they're still a minority within the financial services community. Look talent speaks for itself. All of the software that the industry relies on was developed by quants and it turned the MBA guys out there into just turnkey order takers(type in a few assumptions and poof there is your output).

And it's only a matter of time until just to stay competitive every mutual fund is hiring predominately quants because that is what their competitors are doing and the MBAs will just move onto something else like they've always have when their generic degree is no longer useful to an industry. First it was the corporate world of places like semiconductors and telecom. Then it's off to banking. Now they're all becoming consultants because when they work with a client they move 5 times faster up the chain the companies own employees do.

The job security in the quant is that for once you're more useful than the others vying for jobs and whether or not that firm at that time sees that doesn't change the fact that if it is true that one day the job market will reflect that. It's quite likely that in 20 years Columbia quant program will not only be hard to pass, but harder to get into then Harvard business school. It's only a matter of time until over 50% of the industry are mathematicians.

" I don't think your typical quant could sufficiently calibrate his explanations to the level of knowledge of the person listening to him, but if they could I see no reason why they wouldn't be a hot commodity in the mutual fund space"

This is key. In wealth management, a significant portion of an employee's value-add comes from client relationship management and pitching new business. If I have a stack of resumes filled with only quants and top MBAs, I know I'm getting a SUPER smart person in a quant, but a well rounded, fairly high intelligent person from a top mba. From my experience, you can teach a reasonably intelligent person complex financial theories, but you can't teach an introvert to become personable.

puckah18 said:   " I don't think your typical quant could sufficiently calibrate his explanations to the level of knowledge of the person listening to him, but if they could I see no reason why they wouldn't be a hot commodity in the mutual fund space"

This is key. In wealth management, a significant portion of an employee's value-add comes from client relationship management and pitching new business. If I have a stack of resumes filled with only quants and top MBAs, I know I'm getting a SUPER smart person in a quant, but a well rounded, fairly high intelligent person from a top mba. From my experience, you can teach a reasonably intelligent person complex financial theories, but you can't teach an introvert to become personable.


I'm well aware of that.

But if that same quant maybe had something on the resume or cover letter that showed some experience and success in sales out of curiosity you would take the interview wouldn't you?

Or you met them at some point and noticed that he was an extrovert. Again wouldn't that at least get you curious?


Key point: Whether you are an introvert or an extrovert there is likely nothing you can do about it now. If you are an introvert who gets his MBA you also wont be getting a job at any wealth management firm unless it's some form of back room position(which the quant should more easily get). In that sense you lose nothing when it comes to those types of jobs if you go quant. Now if you're an extrovert it again doesn't matter if you go MBA or quant. If you're an extroverted personable person you should be able to just as easily get something like a wealth management job with a quant degree as you would if you had an MBA.

Quant degrees tend to appeal introverts with poor social skills to begin with so that selection bias enters into answers about what type of work quants get vs. don't get. But if you're the same person the only real difference is that the quant degree will have you learning a lot more, a lot more valuable information, etc. and the MBA is half garbage information, overly general because of how many fields they cater to, and the only thing valuable will be the relationships and the alumni network.

See in my world if you systematically add qualities to yourself that make you the most valuable to someone else you stand the highest chance of being successful. If instead you're going to pick the options that tradition has dictated whether it makes sense or gives you a real talent edge then it may work for a bit, but eventually you'll be worse off for it.

That is just my thoughts though.

I appreciate the debate that is taking place. This is helping me form a different view on what financial roles I would be best suited for. I am definitely leaning towards quant for the reasons that some of you have mentioned above. Some other positives about a quant is:

I do believe I can get into a higher ranked quant program than MBA program.
I do have introverted tendancies but have become more extraverted as I get older.
A quant degree would be shorter in duration.
And it costs less than almost all MBAs worth mentioning.

One request that I have is that everyone put their background information relative to the topic (work history, position type, etc.). That will help everyone else know where they are coming from.

Thanks to everyone for sharing their opinion and please continue commenting!

I would really make sure that you want this before going down that route though. I mean your 30th night in a row reading and writing large amounts of Greek until 10pm is going to be hard on most people even interested in the subject matter. You've got to really want that end goal to be able to put up with that on a regular basis. There is basically no way you'll have a life for the year+ you go through that.


I seriously wonder what the result would be of calling up maybe 20 firms around NYC and telling them that you're very interested in going through a quant program, but that you just want to see if you'll love the work as much as you think you will and if they wouldn't mind if you paid them a visit and they showed you around a little.

Something tells me that you may get a few takers(if you don't who cares they wont know your name unless you give it to them--which you only would if they were okay with it). Then you can just book a flight out there and see if all this is really what you want.

By the way if you want a good subject matter suggestion.

If I was about to go the quant route to whatever extent I could focus the area of my study(let's say maybe a research project or something of that nature) I would focus on pass through entities. As far as I know there hasn't been much work done on the quant side of REITs, mREITs, MLPs, RICs, etc. So things like pass through specific volatility, convexity, etc. could be a very interesting subject matter.

What's great about studying that:
1) The use of pass through structures to avoid the double taxation of both corporate and dividend cap gains is growing dramatically.
2) They're high beta/high vol structures which is what you want when you're looking to provide value and get comped off of some sector.
3) Unlike traditional equities, dividends from pass through entities are not really linear at all. Your traditional CFA while developing some algorithm would probably input an assumption of linear dividend behavior. The quant will be able to more elegantly develop formula for the non linearity of dividend behavior. Therefore, in comparison to the existing group of people out there you could more likely shine and show value.
4) These structures by definition have to be rather frequent customers of wall street. Since they can't retain much earnings under their structure the only way they can really expand operations is to issue new securities. This means that even if you go out to some specialty hedge fund and for some reason that job ends there is likely going to always be an increasing demand on the sell side for quants that specialize in pass through entities given how great of customers they are to Wall Street. So that tells me that you're specialty there would in theory grant you more job security than most other specialties.

Background:

B.S. Mechanical Engineering. Worked as an engineer for a year and hated it. Took off a year to recalibrate my resume (namely to study for the CFA). Made the switch to financial services.

8 years after submitting my 2 week notice at the engineering company, I'm now a partner/equity analyst at a value oriented, long only, asset management company with $1.2 billion AUM.

dshibb said:   FranksandBeans said:   Any chance you could move more towards the account/sales side of things within engineering and be happy? So long as there is a product, most companies have some sort of technical sales type position usually under the guise of applications or sales engineer, possibly account manager. Bit of a stretch from finance but closer and still in demand, lots of jobs to move around to.

If you are bored with straight engineering but have a good understanding of your field, it is usually not too hard to move into jobs where you are dealing more with numbers and people and less with engineering, if that is your preference and you have the personality/charisma/talking skills to do so. Two completely different skill sets and there is always a demand for such people. Engineer with people skills and sales guy with engineering skills are both hard guys to find.

Apply your finance enthusiasm to your own finances. As a sales guy you'll have plenty of time to do so.


Franksandbeans, I presume by his interest in financial engineering and algorithmic trading that he isn't wanting to get into finance to be a salesman.

Instead it would be my guess that finance(or particularly that side of finance) appeals to him because of a love for analysis and complex puzzles; I don't see how becoming a sales oriented account manager in the engineering space is going to give him that.


You were a lot nicer about this than most would be, I knew when posting that it probably wasn't quite along the lines of what the OP was thinking in terms of a Finance career.

However, I'm a mechanical engineer working in what many call the worst field, automotive, and I've seen a lot of new engineers start work and hate the job. Most of them seem to assume that engineering is going to be really exciting and they will start working on interesting sandbox or R&D type projects with lots of flexibility to design and do what they want. Those folks are quickly demoralized by things like too many meetings or their first project being a bolt or bracket or some other mundane work. Put simply, engineering can suck, and it's more likely to suck when you first start out.

I've seen a lot of those people say F-it and quit only to chase around other careers they think are more interesting, or more secure, or pay better. You pick. Most engineers aren't rich, but if you are at all competent you should be able to find a job just about anywhere, and the pay should be liveable to arguably good. Far as the interesting/satisfying part of things go, that can be tough but you've got to move towards where you want to be over time. I have friends like this that have dumped engineering, taken another 2-6 years of schooling, only to end up in another mundane job they dislike making similar or less money. Long story short the main risk is just repeating the same mistake cycle that got you an engineering degree (and costs of it) in the first place by starting over to chase something else that sounds interesting.

I've seen a lot of others (like myself) that come to terms with what they like and dislike about engineering and get on a path to move towards what they want to do, which in most engineering fields would include options geared towards management, sales, or R&D after putting in at least a few years of grunt work. OP seems to be just about at that point, so there might be a move to consider giving a shot before ejecting.

Just wanted to point that out to the OP.



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