Do you know about next week's NIPS conference in Barcelona? No? You're out of touch. The people who will be responsible for your finance job in 2025 are all going, even though most people who work in banking now haven't even heard of it.
NIPS stands for 'Neural Information Processing Systems.' In other words: machine learning. The NIPS conference, which is already fully booked up for 2016, has been running since 1986. The conference isn't about finance in particular, but is about all the machine learning subjects that are already revolutionising finance as we know it, including signal and speech processing, reinforcement learning algorithms. probabilistic models and game theory and econometrics.
Yan Lecun, director of artificial intelligence research at Facebook is going and giving a keynote speech (see his Tweet below), Drew Pervis, a research scientist at Googe's Deep Mind is also giving a speech, as is Susan Holmes, a data analyst and professor of statistics at Stanford University.
In other words, this is an assembly of the great and the good of machine learning and data processing.
My dear colleague and Higgs boson chaser Kyle Cranmer will be giving a keynote at NIPS next week.
I will also... https://t.co/G0RNR0pqIl
— Yann LeCun (@ylecun) December 2, 2016
Does this matter for finance? Yes. Quantitative hedge funds like Man AHL already have machine learning teams, although their product still requires finessing. Quant teams at Goldman Sachs are already using machine learning and J.P. Morgan has a chief data science office in the U.S. which is employing machine learning techniques, for example. In a report out in October, Deutsche Bank's quantitative team said machine learning has potential for finance, but there's still a long way to go.
Early days or not, some of the most switched-on young traders and quants have been quitting banking to study machine learning PhDs for the past few years. Christian Robbins at Tradestone, a quant and machine learning search firm, says it's a move that's paid off. "Everywhere from banks to high frequency trading houses to hedge funds are chasing machine learning professionals now," he says. "These people have multiple calls every day from headhunters."
Machine learning specialists typically aspire to work for the likes of Google's Deep Mind, where Robbins says they're often locked in for at least five years. Banks are offering salaries of £100k for new PhDs, rising to £500k for the most experienced staff.
If you want to penetrate the machine learning community and you've missed NIPS, the good news is there's another big conference in the pipeline. Machine learning professionals also attend ICLR, which is next taking place in France in April 2017.