India is fast becoming a hub of quant outsourcing. Many big banks and insurance companies from US and Europe have started outsourcing their quantitative analysis work to India, which has led to a massive increase in the demand for quants.
However, there is a shortage of trained quant analysts, especially at entry level, as not many Indian universities provide degree programs in quantitative finance or financial engineering. Only a handful of universities provide these courses, and the quality is not that great.
Besides, many graduates do not know how to prepare for these roles through self-studies (like how they do for software engineering jobs), which is quite possible and Indian students are smart enough to do so. But there is an awareness gap and I hope this article will help those who want to become self-taught quants.
Let us first know what quants do. Quants work in banks, NBFCs, quant trading firms, Insurance companies and advisory firms. The work revolves around developing algorithms for trading, client acquisition or risk management. Although it sounds like a data science role, there are shuttle differences. Unlike data science roles, quant roles require good knowledge of theory. Moreover, quant models are domain specific (to Finance) and different in many ways from generic data science models (at least the way they are developed).
Therefore, it is important that students interested in quantitative finance should understand models used specifically in banking and finance. The best way to do that is to enroll for a good full-time course. Unfortunately, that is not an option for many.
So, what are the other options? The next best option is to do a master’s degree in economics, Mathematics or Statistics. There are many good programs in these fields and many of from these fields work as quants (also in India). Also, computer science graduates are preferred in quant roles, so that is also an option.
However, the field of your educational degree is less important. If you have a degree in a quantitative field (Science or Engineering), you can make a career as a quant. Many from Physics background work in quant and Quant trading companies are full of people with engineering backgrounds.
If you already have degrees in a quantitative field (in science or technology), follow the below steps.
- First read about this field from blogs to know if it really interests you. Just do a google search and you will find many good posts about what quants do.
- Talk to someone who is already working in this field to know about the work and career prospects. A good way is to connect with your college seniors who are working in this field. Else, you can also spam random people on LinkedIn. Some will respond for sure. Ask for a one-on-one call if possible.
- If you have money and time, do a course, preferably by someone who has already been in this field for many years.
- Else, buy some good books and watch YouTube videos on these topics. You will not understand everything for sure, but do not worry, you are not the only one. It is such a vast field that you will not be able to grasp all the things.
- Also, master one or two programming languages. Python and C++ are the two most popular languages among quants (beside SQL).
- Try to get an internship. You can easily get an internship in consulting companies that are always looking out for people who can work for them for less money (and interns are best for that).
- Do some side projects. For example, build a scorecard for default prediction. Build a model to forecast stock returns. Just start with simple algorithms.
- Apply for jobs when you have some knowledge. Do not wait too long for you to master everything. In my view, you can start applying after about 6 months of self-study.
Keep the following things in mind while applying.
- Note that quant roles are lucrative and thus incredibly competitive. Also, it is an academic heavy role, so you need to be good with studies including interests in coding, mathematics, and finance. Highlight all your academic achievements in your CV.
- People with master’s degrees are preferred. However, the trend is changing now. I see many with just bachelor’s degree are getting hired.
- Have a 1 CV (or max 2 pages). Write about what already know about quant analysis (even though you may not have done any courses).
- Getting opportunities at Consulting firms is easier than Investment banks.
- The interview process can sometimes be difficult, and questions asked may be very theoretical. Good to prepare Statistics and probability very well.
- Quantitative finance is not all about quantitative trading/HFT. Rather, most quants work in traditional banks and insurance companies. Hence, look beyond trading firms.
Do not hesitate to contact me for any questions you may have. Also contact me if you want me to coach you or guide you towards starting a career in quantitative research.