Protégé Mentorship : Quant
Welcome to the Intern Experience blog series by Team ARP. In today’s blog, we will be proposing our interview about the internship journey of Aditya Kumar Singh, a pre-final year ECE undergrad. He bagged an internship at JPMorgan Chase & Co. as a Quantitative Researcher.
So what is “quant” in a layman’s term?
Quant is the use of mathematical and statistical methods to solve any financial problem. To give a broad example, say you apply for a home loan at a bank, now the bank obviously can’t just go and quote any number. It needs to have concrete proof or method to back that number.
The bank has to factor in the various features such as the person’s salary, the current housing market trends appropriately and then come up with a number after a thorough mathematical analysis. The aim here is to find the percentage of the risk that the person won’t be able to pay back the loan.
A real-life example would be the Housing Market Crisis of 2008 where such risks were not handled properly, leading to a global economic crisis.
Engineering and Finance don’t sound like a nice pair, is knowledge of Finance also required for getting into such roles?
This is one misconception I would like to clear. There has been this image that since JPMC is an Investment bank and role is too that of a Quantitative Researcher, a deep understanding of financial markets is required. So I would like to clear that one doesn’t need to have any financial knowledge for this role. They won’t ask you about derivatives or financial modeling, but if you know that, it’s always better. It is not a requirement; after all, we are just engineers.
What are some famous names for Quant finance roles?
JP Morgan, Goldman Sachs(though they don’t explicitly hire for quant roles, they ask all sorts of questions in the interview and might assign you a Quant profile if you perform well in quant-related questions.) Then there’s Quad eye, I-RAGE capitals, Quant Box, and maybe 1–2 more, so there’s not a lot of them.
EVALUATION AND HEADNOTE
A Resume detains your education, skills, work experience, and accomplishments. How to frame it in the best suitable way?
The employers look at two things mainly, programming-related achievements and math courses that you have done.
If you have given a lot of contests, you can always write the ranks achieved as evidence that you are efficient in programming, and even the ratings on these websites will do as well as levels. You can mention the certified courses in the resume to ensure that you have a pretty good background as required for this role.
Also, you can mention any project that you have worked on, even if it’s not related to quant. They’ll ask you a little about that project.
What was your mindset and preparation for the recruitment test and evaluation?
The tests had a Mathematics section, an aptitude section, and a programming section. The questions were of moderate difficulty. I mean, as far as I remember, we had only 1 to 2 minutes for a problem. So it all boils down to how fast you are and obviously accuracy.
The programming part was not difficult at all as expected. The Mathematics section constitutes a bit of calculus, quadratic, and problems of the JEE topics like the Trigonometric section to check your speed and knowledge. Probability takes up a significant portion of the Mathematics section, and some probability problems were quite challenging. Each section had its own time, so you can’t just save some time from one section and use it in the other one.
Would you please tell us about your interview experience?
So I went through 4 rounds of interviews, the last one being an HR round, and the first 3 were technical rounds. Apart from the initial introduction, each round had a similar pattern. They will start with mathematics which is algebra and probability, where probability will be the major one like. They ask the initial few questions from algebra and quickly move to probability, and then after probability, they will eventually move onto programming.
In my case, they started with do you know Fourier transform, then various mathematics-related questions like newton Leibnitz, Laplace transform, etc. Then they asked me regression and probability concepts like Markov chains and gave me a few probability problems to solve. For programming, they will ask some standard algorithms and similar issues as asked in any programming contest. They will heavily ask you the concepts related to OOPs like polymorphism, inheritance and their examples and applications. And finally, end the interview with one or two puzzles.
What is required for the quant role and my experience during the process?
Quant essentially is made up of two things -> Mathematics and Programming. So by mathematics, it’s not like the entirety of mathematics. There are two main fields of mathematics required for a quant -> Linear Algebra and Probability and statistics.
So For probability and statistics, most of the branches had a probability course in their semester somewhere. So if you can go through that course once again, just skimming through it, I believe all topics required for this role will be covered.
But this is ideal situation, expecting a student to know what happened in the previous semesters. So that’s not an issue too. Like if you didn’t have any course on probability earlier, what you can do you can learn all those topics from the Stat 110 course available on YouTube. It’s a course from Harvard University, and you can go through that course with just JEE probability as a prerequisite. It has around 30–35 lectures, so one lecture a day, and you are done in a month.
There’s a book called 50 challenging Problems in Probability for problems. You can start solving that after completing the course. Its solution is also readily available online, so you can refer to that when stuck.
For Linear Algebra, again this time, you all had MAN 001 course in your first year, so almost all the topics like matrices, differential equations are covered in that particular course. Also, there’s a course on linear algebra from MIT, it’s a nice course you can go through it; it will be really helpful. And problems are not required for this field as they will mostly ask you fundamental conceptual problems, which you can do by just knowing the concepts.
Now coming to the Programming part, you needn’t be that very good programmer for this role like that required for an SDE role, but even then, a quant does require programmers. I mean, all of these mathematical models you will be eventually be implementing or coding into software, so you only expect a programmer to do this right. And even then, knowing both mathematics and programming will always give you an edge over others. So for programming, you can start (or most of you have already begun to) by signing on code forces and code chef and start giving all the contests, and you can also solve problems either difficulty-wise or topic-wise. And you should also need to have a good grasp on Objects Oriented Programming concepts as they heavily ask these concepts.
And you must go through the interview bit and try the IB puzzles apart from the programming problems. Again anything related to programming will be better explained by an SDE intern to leave it to them, and you can also follow the same for this role.