July 12, 2012

Hiring on Wall Street is down 19% year-on-year, according to the job site eFinancialCareers. But one area where firms are actively recruiting is quantitative analytics.

Quantitative analytics has seen a 22% spike in recruitment demand compared to 2011. Commodities and research are also popular this year with increases of 19% and 11% respectively in job postings compared to last year.

Demand for quants has grown in recent years due to the growth of high-speed trading and the explosion of data, which has led firms to rely on increasingly complex trading models.

The number of schools offering financial engineering Masters and Phd programs is growing, but supply still isn’t always meeting demand from financial institutions, notes Constance Melrose, managing director, Americas, eFinancialCareers.

[Read: The Top 10 Quant Schools of 2012 to learn more.]

Further, financial institutions aren’t just looking to hire any good quant: Even tougher than finding a talented quant is finding a talented quant with solid client-facing skills, Melrose says.

Quants need to understand what their clients’ needs are going to be and they must also be able to explain their models to internal and external clients, whether they are traders, portfolio managers or risk managers, Melrose notes.

Client-facing skills come partly from a quant’s experience in the financial services industry, she adds. Then again, there also are some financial organizations that prefer to hire quants without any financial services experience at all.

“Some don’t want to hire people with preconceived ideas, so they hire physicists or others outside the financial industry,” Melrose adds. Still, for firms that can also be a risky move. The flip side is that by hiring outside the financial industry, you don’t know how these quants will fit in when they start working for a financial firm, she notes.

Overall, there has rarely been a better time to be a quant. This is partly because it isn’t just the financial firms who are competing for the technical crème-de-la-crème. “On the technology side, many of these skills are also used in other areas such as gaming. There are alternatives [to Wall Street] for people with exceptional technical skills,” Melrose suggests.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Melanie Rodier has worked as a print and broadcast journalist for over 10 years, covering business and finance, general news, and film trade news. Prior to joining Wall Street & Technology in ...