Quants who possess advanced data skills and the ability to code have the golden ticket in their hands.
Yakob Peterseil and Cecile Gutscher filed this report for Bloomberg:
These days the ability to code is one of the hottest skills out there. The multi-trillion dollar market in company debt is getting wired up by systematic players, and firms are having to pay up for the best talent. Hedge funds are poaching from rivals, sweetening compensation packages and committing more resources, according to recruiters. Credit-quant clients at London firm Selby Jennings are offering annual compensation of up to $400,000 to a Ph.D. graduate with five years’ experience as a desk strategist.
For seasoned quant traders, opportunities abound. Take ex-Citadel head of quantitative research for global credit Frederic Boyer. He was tapped by Chicago-based Jump Trading earlier this year as the high-frequency pioneer steps up a push into the bond market. Hugh Willis, co-founder of BlueBay Asset Management, is readying a systematic debt investment firm in London. More than 70% of its 55 staff members are able to code. Man Numeric, a quant arm of the $113 billion hedge fund, started a corporate debt group last year.
After years of tiptoeing around systematic styles in debt markets, investors are starting to believe in the promise — ushering in a new world of advanced statistics and robot-learning. About 70% of institutional and 78% of wholesale investors reckon the strategy of dissecting securities by their factors, like value and momentum, are applicable to fixed income, according to a study by Invesco Ltd.
“There’s been an intensification of interest and willingness to put money on the table in the past 18 months,” said Luke Williams, partner at London-based recruitment firm Lascaux Partners Ltd. “Credit has emerged as a stand-alone business in the systemic investing world.”
The computing chops required are far more than just knowing how to make a pivot table in Excel, and the skills in demand go way beyond finance. “One strategist I recently placed had competing offers from Netflix, Google, Facebook and the hedge fund I eventually placed him with,” said Deepali Vyas, global co-head of FinTech at recruitment firm Korn Ferry in New York.
But that’s not to say that good, old-fashioned human judgment is obsolete, the type earned from thousands of hours spent on a trading floor.