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Unformatted text preview: ON BECOMING A QUANT MARK JOSHI 1. What does a quant do? A quant designs and implements mathematical models for the pricing of derivatives, assessment of risk, or predicting market movements. 2. What sorts of quant are there? (1) Front office/desk quant (2) Model validating quant (3) Research quant (4) Quant developer (5) Statistical arbitrage quant (6) Capital quant A desk quant implements pricing models directly used by traders. Main plusses close to the money and opportunities to move into trading. Minuses can be stressful and depending on the outfit may not involve much research. A model validation quant independently implements pricing models in order to check that front office models are correct. Plusses more relaxed, less stressful. Minusses model validation teams can be unin- spired and far from the money. Research quant tries to invent new pricing approaches and sometimes carries out blue-sky research. Plusses its interesting and you learn a lot more. Minusses sometimes hard to justify your existence. Quant developer a glorified programmer but well-paid and easier to find a job. This sort of job can vary a lot. It could be coding scripts quickly all the time, or working on a large system debugging someone elses code. Statistical arbitrage quant, works on finding patterns in data to sug- gest automated trades. The techniques are quite different from those in Date : December 13, 2010. 1 2 MARK JOSHI derivatives pricing. This sort of job is most commonly found in hedge funds. The return on this type of position is highly volatile! A capital quant works on modelling the banks credit exposures and capital requirements. This is less sexy than derivatives pricing but is becoming more and more important with the advent of the Basel II banking accord. You can expect decent (but not great) pay, less stress and more sensible hours. There is currently a drive to mathematically model the chance of operational losses through fraud etc, with mixed degrees of success. People do banking for the money, and you tend to get paid more the closer you are to where the money is being made. This translates into a sort of snobbery where those close to the money look down on those who arent. As a general rule, moving away from the money is easy, moving towards it is hard. 3. Areas of derivatives FX Equities Fixed income Credit derivatives Commodities Hybrids FX is short for foreign exchange. Contracts tend to be short-dated with high volume and simple specifications. Emphasis is therefore on speed and smile modelling. Equities means options on stocks and indices. Techniques tend to be PDE based with the local vol model being popular. A typical con- tract is a note paying some function of the stock price path. Not a particularly big market....
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