Update: many developers seem to suggest that any risk analytics experience would not help me move into “front office”, though I’m not so hung up about front office.
Many people also point out budget is typically lower in back office.
Thanks for your input. I feel bad about repeated failed attempts to break into a few quantitative domains (listed below) so I need to consider some negative what-ifs. What if the risk system is similarly “underwhelming” like:
* volatility surface fitter in Barclays
* curve building and real time “ticking” risk sensitivity in Baml
* quant library integration at Macquarie
* equity and FX volatility product pricing in OCBC
* (I guess your Barclays mortgage system could be another quant domain?)
Armed with my formal education and analytical competence, I have tried valiantly to find a foothold in a quant dev domain. I was unable to dig in my heels.
I will not go into details on these “broken dreams”. Suffice to say that I had enough of these … that recently I decided to walk away from a higher-paying ($120/hr) contract because it looks like another system with some complicated financial math.
I don’t want to give up completely on my (large) investment in quant study. This is the source of one of the biggest pains in my career. As I said, I am also cautious about throwing good money after bad money…
Thanks for pointing out the “infrastructure” part — I can imagine that like your friends, most tech guys in risk systems are only responsible for the infrastructure. In some banks, there’s an army of developers supporting the risk systems, so the infrastructure is presumably quite complex and large scale. Presumably, if a developer can understand a sizable infrastructure or the complex “plumbing” in a risk system, he would be considered competent, valuable, and strong even though he doesn’t understand the math.
Across domains, math is not the only domain knowledge — I believe 1) system architecture and 2) jargon are important domain knowledge too, esp. in risk systems.
Among the millions of java/c++ developers in risk systems, I guess 2% to 10% need some quant knowledge? In such a case, the market depth would be rather poor, because risk quant developer roles would be few and far between, just like the pricing quant developer market.