Interview With a Quantitative Analyst: Brian P.

April 21, 2010
For basics, a quantitative analyst is somebody who applies to math and finances. In Brian’s case, he programs software from formulas to make computers automatically buy and sell stocks from the stock market.

I know that many people don’t even know what you do for a living, but when did you figure out that this is what you wanted to be?
I wanted to do something related to mathematics starting in 1995. Somebody told me about this job during a conference in Toronto, Canada. Two years ago, I developed a new method and I figured out that it works. It’s for investment, and it buys and sells something called futures, which are different kinds of stocks. It’s like a contract.

Which do you think is more important, money or power? Why?
Since I’m dealing with money, I’d go with money. It’s business, so money is more important because I deal with it everyday. Power could just easily go away or be taken away.

How do you manage with your co-workers? How does everyone work together?
We distinguish the clear boundary between my co-workers work and mine. There are different areas to take care of between the different people.

Besides programming computers, what else do you do at work?
I do interviews for hiring people. I ask them questions and see if they can answer them and if they are qualified for the job. I also do planning for my research. I plan out what I’m going to do next to find a new strategy. I also experiment on computers to work out formulas.

For people who are interested in this job, what are special skills or interests considered?
Fist of all math, because you need to create formulas. Computer skills are important because you have to let the computer do the trading automatically. You also have to understand the financial market.

Did you do anything else before this job? If so, what did you do?
Before this job, I was doing research in mathematics. I taught students math universities. I taught at Washington University, Purdue University, University of Toronto, and University of Chicago.

Ok thanks. Last but not least, what is a normal day for you at work?
I ride the train to downtown. Next, I take the bus to work from there after. And then, I have a cup of coffee. I sit at one of the trading desks with a lot of computers to start working. I usually work until 5:30. After I take the bus back to the train station and then the train back home to my family.

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