Posted By: Deanna DeBenedictis

If you're working in finance, you probably consider yourself a numbers person. But if you're considering pursuing the role of quantitative analyst, you'll have to be a hard-core numbers person.

"Quants," as they're called, design and implement complex models that allow financial firms to price and trade commodities, gauge risk management and more. Math and computer skills are valued more than a finance background and many of the individuals who pursue careers as quants have PhDs in math or physics, or at minimum a master's degree in financial engineering (MFE), mathematical finance (MMF) or computational finance. In addition to calculus and statistics, quants have to be competent in computer applications such as C++, MATLAB and Java, among others.

This is a highly competitive field and there are several types of quantitative analysts depending on skill sets and specialties, including those who work in areas of systematic trading, financial research, risk management, options pricing or quantitative programming. At investment banks and hedge funds, "front office" QAs work directly with traders to provide pricing or trading tools; "back office"QAs validate models and conduct research to develop strategies. Quants working at banks and insurance companies focus more on risk management.

The types of organizations using quantitative analysts includes investment banks, hedge funds, commercial banks, insurance companies, management consulting firms and financial software and information providers. People in this role, which is essentially a research position, have to enjoy working independently and with little supervision. It's a highly skilled and high-pressure career, but salaries can be lucrative, reaching into six figures.

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