Despite pervasive poor performance and the closure of several previously high flying funds, hedge fund jobs remain hot property. Ok, you may be out on the street if things go badly, and you won't be able to call upon the infrastructure of an investment bank if your hard drive melts down. But in most cases, this is more than compensated for by the opportunity to be on first name terms with the CEO and the possibility of becoming very rich indeed.
To the aspiring financial techie, an entry level role as a quant developer in a hedge fund may therefore sound like the dream job. What does it involve? - In banks, quant developers build computer programmes based on complex pricing and trading models dreamed up by statistical whiz kids in quantitative teams. In hedge funds, they do much the same. But given the small size of most funds, they typically work alongside expert derivatives traders instead.
Brent Harris, managing director of Aston Carter, a recruitment firm specializing in financial IT jobs, says there are a growing number of junior quant development roles in hedge funds. Larger funds with the resources to train people, will take candidates straight from university, says Harris. Others expect a few years' experience.
What skills will you need? According to Harris, a degree in maths, engineering or physics is desirable, as is knowledge of C++, and some form of mathematically focused postgraduate education.
Brett Marsh, a recruiter at McGregor Boyall Associates, says junior quant developers will need to demonstrate competency with modelling techniques including Monte Carlo, Black-Scholes and Stochastic Volatility.
So just how much can you earn as a junior quant developer at the cutting edge of your profession? Here, recruiters beg to differ. Alastair Singleton, a consultant at 7 Fifty Two Solutions, says base pay for entry level quant development staff can range from as low as 20,000, to as high as 50,000, with bonuses ranging from 20% of salary, to many multiples.
Marsh is more precise. An entry level quant developer with two or three years' experience can expect a salary of 45,000, he says plus a bonus averaging approximately 60%.
And Harris is more optimistic. He says hedge funds have no qualms about paying entry level quant developers salaries as high as 70,000 (as long as they have excellent mathematical credentials and knowledge of C++), and a 100% bonus is a definite possibility. For that, the possibility of being turfed out may just about be worth it.