No matter the bad press, firms are still swooping up quants of all stripes. While hiring on the entry level has slowed a bit, with a Ph.D. a few years experience, and strong tech and IT skills, it's almost easy to find a job. Credit risk and counterparty risk quants are some of the most sought after. So what makes them so special?
It's pretty obvious, says Tracey Pirrie, managing director for Ashton Lane Group, a financial services executive recruiter. They've gotten more focus simply because of the need for firms and banks to insulate themselves from the risks inherent in a volatile market. "Even in a downturn, they'll still be hired," she says.
Counterparty credit risk quants are especially in demand, given what's going on in derivatives right now. Positions are growing in New York and London. Look to Citi and Barclays to add spots. Even with cutbacks on exotic and structured products traders, counterparty credit risk quants working with these products are pretty safe.
But no matter the position - and there are many titles - a strong market and product knowledge is needed. Mere math geeks need not apply. A doctorate in a quant discipline is de rigor - areas like stats, physics or math. Also, you'll need a working knowledge of Matlab, C, C#, SQL, etc.
Surprise. The pay is good.
What's ahead? The better quants, once the rock stars of the hedge fund world, jumped ship as the sector tanked in 2007, running to the safety of top-tier investment firms and banks. As hedge funds start to come back, look for red-hot demand of quants in the alternative investing world.