After two years of lackluster demand, the need for quants is increasing, though employer interest has changed direction.
"Product development is out, risk management is in," says former Credit Suisse investment banker David Marani, now an executive recruiter at Drum Associates. "Pre-2008, there was a high demand for quants to develop structured products. Today, the focus is on risk management .The message on Wall Street is 'help us evaluate risk so that we won't lose money.'"
Roy Cohen, career coach and author of The Wall Street Professional's Survival Guide, also sees a continued need, both on the buy and sell sides. "The need is strong because the market is becoming more complex," he says.
"Who's figuring out the flash trade meltdown? Data security? Quants can be powerful in these positions, especially Ph.D.s in physics, financial engineering, computer science and mathematics. They're able to see the complete experience rather than only seeing a fraction of it." Experience with programming and a back-end understanding of technology are particularly desirable for positions in credit and market risk management.
Beyond Wall Street
If you can't find a job on Wall Street, don't panic. There's a steady need for quants out side the investment business, in the healthcare and tech sectors. Additionally, Marani points to the career of former ING trader, Milton Lee, who's now the Director of Basketball Operations and primary statistical analyst for the NBA's New Jersey Nets. "The demand is there for the guys who know how to run the numbers, not just in the traditional field," he says.