SWE vs Quant

Microsoft rimraf .
Feb 9 5 Comments

Hey I'm in the first year of career and still trying to decide if I like SWE or quantitative finance better.

Was wondering about the general career trajectory at quant firms vs tech (TC growth, WLB in 5/10 years), how interesting the work is (tweaking model heuristics all day might not be the most exciting work), and how are the people in quant jobs (sometimes co-workers could be a bit boring here at MSFT)?

Had taken a few grad level pricing classes, a double in Econ (undergrad), and is planning to take CFA L1 later this year. Do I even qualify for quant positions?


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TOP 5 Comments
  • Amazon holdem
    I started my career as a quant at a hedge fund (EE undergrad). I worked there for a few years before becoming a data scientist. Then did my MBA and now I’m a PM. As a quant, to really add value and be successful in the long run, you need to have a PhD. Undergrad quants essentially are model or algorithm implementers, rather than designers. And quants at banks are essentially at the mercy of traders.

    I ultimately chose to be in software and a PM because I am an engineer and love building products at heart. In finance, it seems that people were always chasing money. I personally don’t think the jobs are that interesting after you do it for a few years (you can only price so many options or write a marginally better algo).

    On the TC front, you can potentially make a LOT more as a quant if you’re in one of the good jobs at top HFs or trading firms - DEShaw, Jane Street, Two Sigma, etc. But again, those guys that did really well from a TC standpoint were insanely smart, some of the smartest I’ve ever met. For normal people, the TC is at FAANG is probably comparable.

    Anyway, I encourage you to think longer term and think about what you really enjoy doing. Money will come. Happy to talk about data science too if you’d like.
    Feb 9 0
  • Amazon holdem
    Btw, for interview prep, Id start with “Heard on the Street”. It’s like Cracking the Coding Interview for quant jobs.
    Feb 9 0
  • Chase chasepaper
    The quant market is heavily geared towards phds. If you don’t have a phd in cs/ee/ml, you will plateau quite early, unless you’re a superstar of course. Also, the top funds won’t even hire a quant without a phd.

    The number of firms you can apply to as a quant is also quite limited, not to mention the very restrictive non competes. Therefore many quants eventually also move to a tech firm as a swe/ds and some never moved back.

    With your background, the closest quanty jobs you can get are probably strats / quant developer. Strats are a mix of quant and dev usually exist in banks. Quant dev is a dev who supports quant phds, also exist in both banks and hedge funds. Both of those don’t necessarily pay more than FNG devs, especially on a per hour basis (for example in banks and citadel). And in some firms, quant devs are paid the same as regular devs (such as in two sigma. Note that 2s pays devs really well).

    My advice is if you really wanna try, you can try to get into a finance firm that pays devs well that also allow some devs to transition to quants. The “backdoor” way so to speak. This way if the transition fails you can still be happy as a swe.

    Citadel is more liberal in this regard, though usually the quant role given to devs are not alpha rsch quants, but rather something middle/back office like risk related. Two sigma is more restrictive about this path (i havent seen that many ppl who’ve switched from dev->quant at 2s on linkedin), but is still possible. I’ve seen the dev->quant transition too at HRT, tower, de shaw, etc. Linkedin is your friend
    Feb 9 0
  • Two Sigma OqsnFJ
    The above posts are decent. One thing to add: There’s a lot of interesting tech work at quant funds. Based on your background you wouldn’t be hired straight into the quant side but could start off in tech side.
    Feb 9 0
  • Capital One EXwk33
    Agreed if your decently smart you will make a lot more money than you need in any of the fields you are taking about. All day long i would choose a job I love and less money vs the opposite...
    Feb 9 0


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