From ML in tech to finance

Dec 29, 2019 59 Comments

I have years of experience in ML at Google, FB and a couple other places. My experience is applied research, not just tensorflow/pytorch wrangling. I’m beginning to get tired of big tech and want to see what finance has to offer. My background is probably best matched to quant research/algo development, and I’m mainly interested in Two Sigma, Jane Street and Citadel. Is this a good career move, medium to long term? How does TC growth potential look these days? wlb is not a factor I’m looking to optimize for.

TC ~700k

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TOP 59 Comments
  • New sdVM28
    (Background: I used to work at Citadel and now work at another top quant firm).

    As for TC growth -- yes, the top quant shops can definitely pay what you're looking for and if you're really good, the TC can grow much higher. However, I suspect in your case you might have to take a pay cut at least for the first year or two. You are switching to a new area with no track record and no domain expertise -- those companies might be willing to take a chance on you but since you're looking for 700k+ then I suspect they might not be willing to pay top dollar until you first prove you can deliver.

    Part of it is seeing if your skills can transfer (a good "applied researcher" on computer vision is not necessarily going to be good at finding trading signals) but also there are a few cultural differences between FANG and hedge funds and I've seen a huge number of tech people flame out due to cultural mismatch that they weren't willing to adjust to.

    So yes, it's definitely possible and if things work out you'll be able to get to the comp you're looking for; so I recommend interviewing if you're interested just to see what happens. But I suspect the offer's bonus may be a "target" rather than a "guarantee" and there's a lot that can go wrong. I suspect you might decide it's not worth the risk. Still, go ahead and interview just to see what happens!
    Dec 29, 2019 5
    • Facebook bTId74
      OP
      Replies like this are what make blind worth it. Thank you, incredibly helpful.
      Dec 30, 2019
    • New sdVM28
      Just thought of one more cultural difference -- the Glassdoor reviews of my former company has one negative review saying "They're focused only on making money just for the sake of making money". (The reviewer didn't elaborate, but I think they were complaining that we choose projects based on how profitable it is rather than how intellectually challenging it is).

      I read that quote and thought, "well, yes of course, what's wrong with that?" But maybe you feel differently. But I think that's probably the core of the cultural difference in a nutshell.
      Dec 30, 2019
  • Jane Street Capital / Eng dudheye
    I think most of the people on blind from those places are devs rather than quant researchers, which is probably the role you'd be targeting. So I don't know how much specific advice you'll get.
    In terms of comp, I make significantly more than you with less experience as a dev. I'd expect researchers to make more, so I wouldn't expect comp to be a barrier.
    Dec 29, 2019 19
    • Goldman Sachs fake engineer
      Two Sigma does not pay that well, it's fairly competitive but not above and beyond. HRT, JS, Citadel, Tower, Jump, DE Shaw I think will all beat it typically.

      5 years back I think their pay was a bit more competitive compared to the rest of the field, but they haven't kept up with the increases.

      I know people who were actually making less than they would in FANG at TS.
      Jan 16
    • Jane Street Capital / Eng dudheye
      @Salesforce I work mostly on back-office systems and lower-level libraries, not trading platforms.
      Jan 16
  • Microsoft travasty
    Nice job man, yoe?
    Dec 29, 2019 5
    • Facebook bTId74
      OP
      @rsrxjn no, after school.
      Dec 29, 2019
    • Amazon rsrxjn
      But you did a phd, right?
      Dec 29, 2019
  • OCC qCnw83
    Jeez stay away please. You are doing well and unless you hate what you do please do not go into a slow, extremely bureaucratic industry like Finance. TC *may* be more than what you make but cannot confirm and will vary by company.
    Jan 2 4
    • Goldman Sachs fake engineer
      Citadel is known to have...issues. Which is part of why they pay more.

      If you're a true rockstar you probably could get HRT or DE Shaw or PDT to give you a pretty good offer, though 700 is already pretty high and might be hard to beat. Those firms are more collaborative and should have better tech.

      If you want to switch out of curiosity and interest in finance then go for it, but I wouldn't do it for money given how high your level is already. Many people in finance would be ecstatic to make 700.
      Jan 3
    • Airbnb anJw
      If OP is hoping to make significantly more than 700K by going into finance that’s probably not gonna happen unless they turn out to be a rockstar (and very lucky) quant.
      Jan 16
  • Waymo / Eng incircles
    This thread is so useful!

    I've another question for the finance people on this thread. Very likely OP has transcended this problem already, but I haven't. One thing I hated about Google ML was the competitiveness - politics, visibility, territory, secrecy, alliances, backstabbing, theft of ideas, etc. I'm curious if anybody can compare how brutal these phenomena are at core Google PA ML roles vs. Jane Street / Two Sigma (be it dev or quant)?
    Jan 7 4
    • Jane Street Capital / Eng dudheye
      I haven't worked at other finance firms, but from what I've heard our pay structure is much less eat-what-you-kill than other places, so another desk making more money is likely to increase bonuses for your desk.
      It's probably partially a culture thing, too. You see senior folks collaborating across teams a lot and follow suit.
      Jan 7
    • Waymo / Eng incircles
      Sounds like a dream. Thanks for the info!
      Jan 7
  • Flagged by the community.

    • Expedia Group foment
      The real question!
      Dec 29, 2019
    • Flagged by the community.

  • Add Hudson River trading
    Dec 29, 2019 2
    • Facebook bTId74
      OP
      Thanks
      Dec 29, 2019
    • T. Rowe Price fvvk18
      That's a good one...actually great one
      Jan 2
  • Indeed / Eng rainwater
    DeShaw, Jump, and Voleon might be worth a try.
    Dec 29, 2019 0
  • New お金
    Do you hold a PhD? Can you elaborate what it means to do ML beyond tensor libraries. Are you at Google Brain? What orgs in google allow you to do this kind of work
    Dec 29, 2019 4
    • Google jayleebean
      Be good. Interview well.
      Dec 29, 2019
    • Google jayleebean
      Of course, internal transfer is always available
      Dec 29, 2019
  • Airbnb anJw
    Heard that good Two Sigma quants make 600K-1M TC. Doesn’t seem worth it if you’re already making 700K and comfortable. Might even make more at FB with stock appreciation.
    Jan 16 3
    • Airbnb anJw
      I have friends at TS
      Jan 16
    • Neurocrine gTz29
      What's their background? Are they from MS finance from Ivys?
      Jan 19

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