Quants are the new hot thing in investment banking, but they’re also (relatively) under-paid and under-appreciated. It's not like they don't have other opportunities. Good quants can find jobs at Instagram or Facebook. They can also go it alone.
The latest examples of senior quants departing large investment banks are at Societe Generale, the French bank that boasts huge teams of grande ecoles graduates working in their financial engineering team in the UK.
Eric Viet, a managing director and global head of sovereigns and financial institutions within SocGen’s financial engineering team, left the bank in December. As of earlier this month, he’s launched his own firm, Munoa Invest. Viet incorporated the firm on UK Companies House earlier this month, and is so far the only employee.
Viet is not the only SocGen quant to launch his own firm in recent months. Hubert Le Liepvre, the London-based head of financial engineering within the bank’s cross-asset solutions team also left at the end of last year. Now he’s launched a new firm in Paris called Ze Profile, which is a tech start-up aimed at monetising personal data.
SocGen’s quants may also have fallen victim to the bank’s cost-cutting efforts. In May last year, the French bank said it would deepen the cuts to its investment bank by shedding an extra €220m by the end of this year.
Senior markets professionals have left since. Daniel Fields, global head of markets, left in the middle of last year, while Maxime Kahn, its head of global equity flow trading for Europe, left in September and is still on gardening leave. Pierre Kervella, deputy head of securities financing services and indexation is also tending his garden after leaving in November, as is David Escoffier, SocGen’s ex-deputy head of markets.
Whether they were pushed or left of their own volition is debatable, but there's some unrest at SocGen after this year's bonuses. The pool is down by around 5% and fixed income traders who had a good year are believed to be particularly irked.
Both Viet and Le Lipevre are long-serving employees at SocGen. Viet joined in 2008, after two years running his own pension advisory business, Aleva Advisor. He was previous a managing director and head of European insurance and pension group at J.P. Morgan. He’s held various senior roles at SocGen including head of illiquid asset distribution and head of financial institution advisory in the cross asset solutions business.
Le Liepvre, meanwhile, joined in 2003 and has worked in roles across London and New York.
Senior quants in investment banking are not immune to job cuts and many have taken the opportunity to launch their own businesses. Jamie Walton, the former head of FX quants at Morgan Stanley, is now running his own quant contracting business and getting a fintech firm off the ground.
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