Quant trading pays very well, plateauing at between $300,000 and $10m a year after five to ten years, depending on performance. This of course allows for very large annual donations.
The job is highly intellectually challenging, and most staff are very satisfied with their work. Turnover in the firms is very low. The culture is quite geeky – nothing like the aggressive and showy stereotype of some parts of finance. The work is highly collaborative and good teamwork skills are vital.
There are arguments both that quant trading is socially useful, and that it is socially harmful. Having investigated these, Alex thinks that it is highly likely to be beneficial for the world. Rob is less confident, but still leans towards thinking it is net positive. Both explain their perspectives and consider some potential downsides.
The most common majors to study to get into the industry are maths, computer science and physics, but people with the necessary abilities can apply from many other fields too. The key trait they look for is “evidence of general problem solving, or puzzle solving, or analytical thinking”. Coding isn’t necessary as it is taught to you.
While very competitive, the application process is quite straightforward, so it’s worth a shot for many people.