Quantitative financial trading is one of the highest paying parts of the world’s highest paying industry. 25 to 30 year olds with outstanding maths skills can earn millions a year in an obscure set of ‘quant trading’ firms, where they program computers with predefined algorithms to trade very quickly and effectively.
This makes it an attractive workplace for people who want to ‘earn to give’, and we know several people who are able to donate over a million dollars a year to effective charities by working in quant trading. Who are these people? What is the job like? And is there a risk that their trading work directly harms the world?
To learn about all this I spoke at length with Alexander Gordon-Brown, who has worked as a quant trader in London for the last three and a half years and donated hundreds of thousands of pounds. We covered:
- What quant traders do and how much they earn;
- Whether their work is beneficial or harmful for the world;
- How to figure out if you’re a good fit for quant trading, and if so how to break into the industry;
- Whether Alex enjoys the work and finds it motivating, as well as what alternatives careers he considered;
- What variety of positions are on offer in quant trading, and what the culture is like in the various firms;
- How he decides where to donate, and whether he has persuaded his colleagues to join him in becoming major philanthropists.