Quants still ascending

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Given the difficulties of high-frequency trading firms, which continue to suffer from weak volume in the equity markets, it's easy to think that there would be less demand for employee quantitative skills.

But Advanced Trading notes that, "Industry sources say demand on the buy side for the brightest mathematical minds the academic world has to offer is stronger than ever. As a result, students who are pursuing advanced degrees in subjects such as financial engineering or computational finance have a leg up in the Wall Street job market."

So what gives?

Whether you work at a hedge funds, sell-side firm or just about anywhere else, quantitative skills are increasingly coming in handy, even if market performance hasn't necessarily been great.

"As companies' long-term health increasingly is tied to the strength of their technology, a quant's ability to build forecasting models that can predict where the market's going or to write algorithms that minimize transaction costs is more valuable than ever on the buy side. And buy-side firms are willing to pay top dollar for students with these skills," notes FinAlternatives.

Many schools have created special financial programs to prepare students for jobs as quants, and starting salaries remain high.

"The average first-year salary for graduates of the University of California at Berkeley's Haas School of Business MFE program was $158,273 last year. Interns from the program earned, on average, nearly $8,000 a month," FinAlternatives noted.

This is part of a general trend that has raised demand for Big Data-like analyses in many areas. The rise of Nate Silver is a great example of the triumph of quantitative approaches in politics. Some think supply chain issues should be managed by quants. Such skills are essential across the economy now. The financial services just happened to figure it out early. -Jim