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I used to work with an ex-colleague at a major investment bank as a quant pricing equity derivatives until 2011. The day I quit that job, my boss was fired and I was offered to become the new boss, but I decided to go to the hedge fund I was planning to move to. So, I would have been my ex-colleague’s boss.

Since that time, my success has been limited....I’ve been to a few hedge funds and the funds always did poorly while I was there. A couple times I was offered to run the quant pricing desks, but I wanted to be closer to the trading, so I declined. One place I declined to take the head role because I planned on quitting to go to a systematic trading outfit (my dream job where you are a quant who is part of the profit center instead of the cost center). I was there for a year before that startup fund tanked in March due to being way offsides during Covid.

Now, my buddy (the ex-colleague) at a very well known prop shop said he would be thrilled to bring me to his place. He was always highly deferential to me and I was almost like a mentor to him. Truth be told though, he is the one who became much more successful, but he is still highly deferential and really trying to bring me in as his head of quant research for systematic options trading.

I’ve met 7 people so far in the interview process and everyone liked me a lot. They all praised my technical knowledge with options, mathematics in general, python, and C++. However, my buddy’s boss is still skeptical since I only had a year of systematic experience and I never managed a large group (though I’ve been asked to do so!).

Now, the recruiter through this process is nice enough on the phone, but he keeps dicking me around with comments like, I’ll call tomorrow or the next day for next steps. Then he disappears...and I reach out to my buddy to ask him what’s going on...then my buddy has to crack the whip to move things along. This has happened a few times already.

I wrote up a 26 page Latex document explaining my thought processes and general ideas for systematic trading and sent it to my buddy to pass along to his bosses to try to assuage their concerns (I wrote it for this job, but I can still use it and expand on it). My buddy thought that was helpful. I gave him names of people that can attest to my management skills. The recruiter said they want to set up an interview with my buddy’s new boss - the firm’s global head of trading. Then we can decide how to proceed - either as a boss or individual contributor. A week ago he said he would contact me the next day or early the following week. Still no contact. Every time he says he will reach out by some date, he fails to do so and I have to speak to my buddy to make anything happen. I’m reluctant to keep doing this. I emailed the recruiter to ask him about scheduling with the head of trading earlier today and still no response.

Should the interpretation be that the firm really doesn’t want me at all and I’m really forcing my buddy to spend all his newly acquired political capital on me? Most other large prop shops usually don’t give me interviews since I have mostly a pricing quant background instead of systematic...or I’m way too senior with 15 years of option pricing experience.

Should I just wait it out? This is nerve wracking being unemployed...on top of that it would be a huge boost to my career pay wise and resume wise.

Update Feb 19:

Yup...it was agonizing, but I did get the offer with a good markup and started in late November - three months from this post! Other senior people I’ve worked with in the past tell me their processes usually do take 6-12 wherever they interview, so I guess patience matters. I doubled my previous pay and got a 10% raise two months later.

The role is as a senior quant researcher. The good thing about the firm is that you are not a second class citizen by virtue of being “just a quant” and not a trader. They view the quants as equals or even slightly better. I didn’t get the management position, but I doubt the management position would pay more.

My current manager (I have a “people” manager who I officially report to, but he’s more like my advocate than a boss whereas my prior colleague sets all the priorities and is my functional manager) strongly emphasizes that the number of reports doesn’t correlate to pay very well at all. The firm pays based on actual contributions which does seem to make sense.

There are some big players here with few reports totally crushing it (multimillion bonuses). That also makes sense where a lot of traders at hedge funds I’ve previously worked at act as solitary creatures making millions with no reports or just an assistant or two. Those guys were overpaid because while they had no reports, there were a ton of under appreciated support staff that made their profits possible. The new place still segregates pure software people (not me) from the big paydays, but net net, they are still very much appreciated (paid better than other places). I guess it helps that the firm had a very strong year.

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  • Seems to be a pattern of snatching defeat from the jaws of victory. That said, assuming you weren't responsible for all these sinking ships, then it wouldn't hurt to explain your own abiding career motivations (which seem to be individual and technical in nature) and achievements, rather than merely cataloguing the failures of your employers. Also, regardless that you've repeatedly been considered worthy of management positions, you have in fact repeatedly (dare I say systematically) declined them, so you may have to confront the reality that you have accumulated little experience thus far. – Steve Aug 27 '20 at 8:45
  • Bottom line - there’s far more money on the systematic side...so I declined management positions that were not seen as profit centers...hoping to break into the trading side instead of the much less well paid pricing/software side. – FinanceGuyThatCantCode Aug 27 '20 at 15:13
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    Fantastic result! – Steve Feb 19 at 5:15
  • @Steve thanks Steve! It has been a very nice place to work. I look forward to one day actually meeting my bee colleagues in person once it is COVID safe to do so! – FinanceGuyThatCantCode Feb 19 at 20:37
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Yes, you wait it out. Yes, you keep doing what you're doing while waiting it out. Really, it should be "ride it out".

You are possibly not the only person being interviewed, the decision makers in the firm are possibly also busy with trading issues atm, the recruiter is possibly also hiring several other positions and also is go between. The recruiter really doesn't have final say, they're there to help massage the process along. If the recruiter isn't responsive, it's because there are other factors at play.

You pushing your buddy is fine, it shows you want the job. This is A GOOD THING. You can always pretend to have another offer on the table to get them to move faster if you like, atm I see no reason for any one to rush to hire an unemployed person. It's not like you're going anywhere.

It's a more senior position, and you are a terrible sales person - your question is framed very negatively in terms of career. As an exercise, edit it to make yourself seem the dynamic individual you must obviously be to be up for this role. You need to add some bluster. I like seeing bluster in the people I invest in, it shows resiliance in the face of adversity, and inspires confidence that they can get stuff done.

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  • Yea...not try to sell myself here so much - I was raising the concerns that were articulated to me. My contact said the two questions were about not having enough systematic/management experience. The paper I wrote was meant to address concerns about systematic and my references from some IT leaders was meant to address management concerns - though my managing software guys to push my projects through the finish line might not equate to managing quant traders for them. – FinanceGuyThatCantCode Aug 26 '20 at 21:34
  • I got another guy who is off his non-compete in October. He would very likely bring me in as head of quant at his new shop he is setting up. I may have to bluff with that if I don't hear back by end of next week. I agree they are interviewing a bunch of others - it is a hard position to fill, so they may end up going with me, but only after making me wait. You are also correct that the recruiter is just a go between. That said, I would prefer he say, "give me a week or two" instead of "I'll call you tomorrow." That pisses me off. I may edit the post to sell myself better :-) – FinanceGuyThatCantCode Aug 26 '20 at 21:38
  • @FinanceGuyThatCantCode whatever was the resolution to this story? – bharal Feb 17 at 14:35
  • yup - see the update above! Thanks for asking! It took a few months, but I did get hired! I’ve been meaning to provide an update. Thanks for asking and motivating me to update! – FinanceGuyThatCantCode Feb 19 at 4:09
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    @Finance I'm so glad to hear that! Really well done you! You worked hard, put effort in, reaped rewards. – bharal Feb 19 at 9:29
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tl;dr you should be putting the time that you're putting in here in to finding a job with a different firm. Don't withdraw your application, just don't put any more time in to it.

Long answer:

You're being jerked around by the internal recruiter, and you recognize that, which is good. The thing is, you're putting in a lot of effort for the company that is doing that, and it would come off to me as kind of desperate. That's not a good colour on anyone, particularly on an industry veteran such as yourself.

  • The "next week" guys that run departments become memes in place like this, and it's awful because "next week" becomes internal shorthand for "never gonna happen".
  • Maybe the guy wants you, maybe he doesn't. Aforementioned guy would often try to keep people waiting while he looked for something "better".
  • If it's really going to be a huge boost, you can check in occasionally, but I think they also know that it's a huge boost for you and that's affecting their appetite for you.
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  • Yes - I tend to agree with you. We shall see what my contact has to say in the next week or so. As for my writing that long document, that is not too big a deal really - I may continue to work on it and refine it further. Maybe it becomes a book some day. LOL – FinanceGuyThatCantCode Aug 26 '20 at 21:26

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