Working as a quant in a bank today isn’t what it used to be. The term is now much broader, and while some of the mystique has dissipated, senior executives acknowledge that quants now play a crucial role within a bank as the bridge between a bank’s technology platform, the mathematical framework driving it and the business itself.
Some of the new jobs for which management is tapping quants include data analytics, derivatives pricing, modeling, fundamental review of the trading book (FRTB) implementation, X-value adjustment (XVA) pricing and compliance with the global non-cleared margin regime. As we noted yesterday, some of these data analytics jobs aren’t well paid.
In response to the growing demand for this expanded definition of quants on Wall Street and in the City, a whole host of specialist quantitative finance Master’s programs have cropped up. However, far too many focus on high theory and pure mathematics without maintaining relevance to the demands of the industry, according to Gordon Lee, an executive director in the investment banking division’s quantitative analytics group at UBS. Many of them cost $75k or even more, to boot.
An increasing number of graduate students are now actively looking to work in financial services in everything from sales, trading and risk management to algorithmic trading, data science and other areas, using a graduate course as a stepping stone for a career on either the sell side or the buy side.
Unfortunately, many mathematical finance courses fail to teach skills that Wall Street hiring managers require their quants to have, such as social graces and organizational finesse, per Lee’s op-ed in Risk.net.
Further, a quantitative finance Master’s degree should, but often doesn’t, instill in students a sense of business acumen and leadership.
In fact, the vast majority of quants working in financial services have either a Master’s or Ph.D. in mathematics or a science subject not related to finance.
Still, a Master’s in quantitative finance can still open the door to jobs on a bank’s model risk team or risk management desk. Model risk in particular has been criticized, however, as comparatively unexciting and lacking in a clear career path. So yes, do that Master’s in quantitative finance – but just don’t assume that you’re going to be a big deal in Goldman Sachs’ front-office strats group afterwards.
Separately, just last year, J.P. Morgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon bragged in the annual report to shareholders that the bank offers 16 weeks of parental leave to employees, saying “Becoming a parent is both joyful and stressful so we want to do everything we can to support our employees through this life-changing event.”
Fast forward to this week – with Father’s Day coming up this weekend, coincidentally – and the ACLU filed a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission accusing J.P. Morgan of violating the Civil Rights Act by discriminating against fathers who actually ask to take the bank up on its offer of parental leave. That could lead to a federal lawsuit against the bank, according to Bloomberg.
Ohio-based J.P. Morgan employee Derek Rotondo, the plaintiff, says that he applied for the 16 weeks of parental leave before the birth of his second child as the “primary caregiver.” However, a J.P. Morgan HR executive told him that bank policy defines the primary caregiver as a child’s birth mother and that he was only entitled to two weeks of paid leave – unless he could prove that his wife was “medically incapable” of taking care of the baby.
“I consider myself really a dad first – everything else comes second,” Rotondo said. “This time is very important for me to spend with him to get to know each other.”
Rotondo’s complaint says that J.P. Morgan’s policy “relies upon and enforces a sex-based stereotype that women are and should be caretakers of children,” whereas “men are not and should not be caretakers and instead do and should return to work shortly after the birth of a child.”
Bankers whose wives are expecting or planning to have kids will be following the case closely.
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