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Why Wall Street Is Hungry For Quants, Even As It Shrinks

Quantitative analysis is the fastest growing area on Wall Street. Advanced Trading explores why quants are in such high demand, what the next generation of quants is learning, and how the buy side is putting them to work.

Where Are the Best Quants Born?

With nearly three decades of experience on Wall Street, Emmanuel Derman, now director of Columbia's Master of Science in Financial Engineering program, has seen a lot in his career. But one thing he hasn't seen much of — both in his time at Columbia and during his 17 years at Goldman Sachs — is American-born quants.

Derman recalls that most of his colleagues during his time at Goldman Sachs were from other countries. And judging by the paltry number of U.S. applicants to Columbia's financial engineering program this year, Derman says, he doesn't see the trend changing in the near term.

Noting that the Columbia quant program received more than 1,000 applicants this year, he says, "The American-born, American-educated [applicants] are under 20 percent, sometimes much lower." He adds, "For better or for worse, it's always been predominantly foreign students."

On the other hand, Derman says, over the past year the number of Chinese applicants and students selected for admission to Columbia's financial engineering program has soared. "The quant world has always been a foreigner's world to an extent," Derman argues. "Americans by and large don't want to sit down and program and solve the financial equations."

[Quants Are In Demand, But Who's Hiring?]

As the Senior Editor of Advanced Trading, Justin Grant plays a key role in steering the magazine's coverage of the latest issues affecting the buy-side trading community. Since joining Advanced Trading in 2010, Grant's news analysis has touched on everything from the latest ... View Full Bio

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Greg MacSweeney
Greg MacSweeney,
User Rank: Apprentice
3/26/2013 | 7:39:52 PM
re: Why Wall Street Is Hungry For Quants, Even As It Shrinks
If you are good with stats and quantitative analysis and you can prove it, i'm sure some firms will take a look at you. after all, they are desperate for quant help.
Bart Hawkins
Bart Hawkins,
User Rank: Apprentice
3/25/2013 | 8:22:50 PM
re: Why Wall Street Is Hungry For Quants, Even As It Shrinks
As an individual - mid career - with a double-major doctorate (physical chemistry & biochemistry) I want to become a quant....after all, that is really the work I do every day, analyzing, forecasting, programming, and building risk models. What are my chances?
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