From MSc Financial Mathematics to the competitive world of quantitative finance

24 June 2019

MSc Financial Mathematics alumna Ellie Davidson shares her experience of studying at WBS, and how it helped her create a specific skill set to transition into a quantitative position in the finance industry.

Embracing challenge

After graduating from an undergraduate degree in pure mathematics, I began my career as an Investment Banking Analyst, working on mergers and acquisitions in the consumer and retail space. I quickly realised that this wasn’t quite right for me; I was keen to move into a more quantitative role within the finance sector, where I could better utilise my mathematical skills. 

Despite already having both a degree in and a passion for maths, in the competitive world of quantitative finance this was not enough. You need advanced programming skills, statistical expertise, and a deep understanding of how to model financial instruments. These are precisely the skills that I was able to develop through my MSc in Financial Mathematics to enable to me to make the transition into a quantitative area in the finance industry, which the WBS Scholarship enabled me to pursue.

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Tailoring my Masters degree

For my Masters degree in Financial Mathematics I was able to choose electives from three different departments: Mathematics, Statistics and WBS. With my particular background as a pure math graduate, with previous work experience in the financial sector, and in order to add to my skill set most effectively I decided to choose two statistics modules. My electives were Financial Time Series and Brownian Motion.

Time series analysis is used heavily in the quantitative finance industry which many of my classmates were pursuing after their masters, and therefore this module was very practical, showing us how to fit mathematical models to real historical data sets. By contrast, Brownian Motion was incredibly theoretical, as we rigorously proved all the theorems we had used throughout the year in other modules. Although this sort of thing certainly isn’t for everyone, knowing where the theorems had come from helped to deepen and enhance my overall understanding. The range of electives available at WBS gave everyone the chance to really develop their individual areas of interest and broaden their skills in the lead up to choosing dissertation topics and, ultimately, entering or re-entering the working world.

 

Achieving my long term goals

During my first term at WBS, I was offered a full-time job for after the completion of my Masters. I have now worked for just over a year as a Quantitative Analyst at Man AHL, one of the world’s largest quantitative hedge funds, where I research market-predictive strategies and implement them into our systematic trading systems. I know that without the theoretical background in statistics and financial modelling that the MSc gave me, as well as the practical data-driven projects that I was able to engage with, I wouldn’t be where I am today.

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