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How I Became a Quant: Insights from 25 of Wall Street's Elite


Praise for How I Became a Quant

"Led by two top-notch quants, Richard R. Lindsey and Barry Schachter, How I Became a Quant details the quirky world of quantitative analysis through stories told by some of today's most successful quants. For anyone who might have thought otherwise, there are engaging personalities behind all that number crunching!"
—Ira Kawaller, Kawaller & Co. and the Kawaller Fund

"A fun and fascinating read. This book tells the story of how academics, physicists, mathematicians, and other scientists became professional investors managing billions."
—David A. Krell, President and CEO, International Securities Exchange

"How I Became a Quant should be must reading for all students with a quantitative aptitude. It provides fascinating examples of the dynamic career opportunities potentially open to anyone with the skills and passion for quantitative analysis."
—Roy D. Henriksson, Chief Investment Officer, Advanced Portfolio Management

"Quants"—those who design and implement mathematical models for the pricing of derivatives, assessment of risk, or prediction of market movements—face the unprec-edented challenge of navigating some of the most volatile markets we have ever seen.

How I Became a Quant reveals the individuals behind this revolution, offering you the chance to learn firsthand what it's like to be a quant today. In this fascinating collection of Wall Street war stories, more than two dozen quants detail their roots, roles, and contributions, explaining what they do and how they do it, as well as outlining the sometimes unexpected paths they have followed from the halls of academia to the front lines of an investment revolution.



Chapter 1. David Leinweber: President, Leinweber & Co.

A Series of Accidents.

Grey Silver Shadow.

Destroy before Reading.

A Little Artificial Intelligence Goes a Long Way.

How Do You Keep the Rats from Eating the Wires.

Stocks Are Stories, Bonds Are Mathematics.

HAL’s Broker.

Chapter 2. Ronald N. Kahn: Global Head of Advanced Equity Strategies, Barclays Global Investors.

Physics to Finance.

BARRA’s First Rocket Scientist.

Active Portfolio Management.

Barclays Global Investors.

The Future.

Chapter 3. Gregg E. Berman: Strategic Business Development, RiskMetrics Group.

A Quantitative Beginning.

Putting It to the Test.

A Martian Summer.

Physics on Trial.

A Twist of Fate.

A Point of Inflection.

A Circuitous Route to Wall Street.

The Last Mile.

Chapter 4. Evan Schulman: Chairman, Upstream Technologies, LLC.


Market Cycles.



And Return.

Trading Costs.

Informationless Trades.

Applying it All.

Electronic Trading.

Lattice Trading.

Net Exchange.



Chapter 5. Leslie Rahl: President, Capital Market Risk Advisors.

Growing Up in Manhattan.

College and Graduate School.

Nineteen Years at Citibank.

Fifteen Years (So Far!) Running Capital Market.

Risk Advisors.

Going Plural.

The Personal Side.

So How Did I Become a Quant?

Chapter 6. Thomas C. Wilson: Chief Insurance Risk Officer, ING Group.

Quantitative Finance: The Means to and End?

The Questions.

The Early 1990s: The Market Risk Era.

The Late 1990s: The Credit Risk Era.

The Great Strategy Debate: From the 1990s to Today.

Lessons Learned.

Chapter 7. Neil Chriss: Former Managing Director of Quantitative Strategies, SAC Capital Management, LLC.

The Glass Bead Game.

Of Explorers and Mountain Climbers.


College Years.

The University of Chicago PhD Program.


The Harvard Mathematics Department.

Moving to Wall Street.

Quant Research.

Quant Research and the Mathematics of Portfolio Trading.

Quantitative Portfolio Management.

Mathematical Finance Education.

Final Thoughts.

Chapter 8. Peter Carr: Head of Quantitative Financial Research, Bloomberg.

My First Eureka Moment.

Accounting for the Future Instead of the Past.

Postdoctoral Studies.

And in the End…

Chapter 9. Mark Anson: CEO, Hermes Pensions Management Ltd. CEO, British Telecommunications Pension Scheme.

PhD, Why Not?

Legal Arbitrage.

Managing the Outcome.

Certain Uncertainty.

Chapter 10. Bjorn Flesaker: Senior Quant, Bloomberg L.P.

Growing Up.

Choosing Academics.

Heeding the Call of the Street.

Becoming a Real Quant Again.

Chapter 11. Peter Jäckel.

The English Connection.

London Calling.

Cutting One’s Teeth.

All the Models in the World.

For Future Reference.

To the Front.

Chapter 12. Andrew Davidson: President, Andrew Davidson & Co., Inc.

Conjecture 1: If It Quacks Like a Quant…

Lemma 1: If You Don’t Know Where You Are Going, Any Road Will Get You There.

Lemma 2: Pay No Attention to the Man behind the Curtain.

Theorem 1: If It May Be True in Theory but It Won’t Work in Practice, Get a Better Theory.

Theorem 2: To Thine Own Self Be True.

Chapter 13. Andrew B. Weisman: Managing Director, Merrill Lynch.

Econometric Voodoo.

Trading for Fun and Profit.

Tools of the Trade.

Lessons Learned.

Chapter 14. Clifford S. Asness: Managing and Founding Principal, AQR Capital Management, LLC.


A Big Decision.

On Our Own.


Geeks of the World Unite.

Chapter 15. Stephen Kealhofer: Managing Partner, Diversified Credit Investments.

A Startup.

Practical Defaults.

The Entrepreneur.

Inventing a Business.

Portfolio Management of Credit Risk.

A Room with a View.

Chapter 16. Julian Shaw: Head Risk Management & Quantitative Research, Permal Group.

Gordon  Capital.


Barclays Capital.

Fat Tails and Thin Peaks.

Adventures in CDO Land.

The Strange Evolution of Value at Risk.

A Paradox.


What Makes a Good Quant?

The Art of Leaving Things Out.

The Art of Choosing the Right Tools.

Do Quants Lack Business Sense?


Chapter 17. Steve Allen: Deputy Director. Masters Program in Mathematics in Finance, Courant Institute of Mathematical Sciences, New York University.

In Which the Author Is Seriously Misled.

In Which a Fortuitous Opportunity Appears.

In Which Reason Prevails and all Rejoice.

Chapter 18. Mark Kritzman: President and CEO, Windham Capital Management, LLC.

A Brief Chronology.

How I Developed My Quant Skills.

How I Applied My Quantitative Training.

The Future for Quants.

Chapter 19. Bruce I. Jacobs and Kenneth N. Levy: Principals, Jacobs Levy Equity Management.

Portraits of Two Investors.

New Concepts, Foggy Ideas.

The Jacobs Levy Investment Approach.

Benefits of Disentangling.

Integrating the Investment Process.

Relaxing Portfolio Constraints.

Integrated Long-Short Optimization.

Books and an Ethical Debate.

Portfolio Optimization and Market Simulation with Shorting.

Chapter 20. Tanya Styblo Beder: Chairman, SBCC.


First Boston.

Graduate School.


Giving Back.

Chapter 21. Allan Malz: Head of Risk Management, Clinton Group.

How Not to Get a PhD.

How Not to Get a PhD, Continued.

RiskMetrics’ Salad Days.

No More Mr. Nice Guy.

Chapter 22. Peter Muller: Senior Advisor, Morgan Stanley.

What’s that Smell?

Life at BARRA.

You Gotta Know When to Fold ’ em.

The Call that Change Everything.

Chapter 23. Andrew J. Sterge: President, AJ Sterge (a division of Magnetar Financial, LLC).

On to the Real World.

Cooper Neff.

Early Days at Cooper Neff.

Active Portfolio Strategies.

How I Became a Quant.

Chapter 24. John F. (JacK) Marshall: Senior Principal of Marshall, Tucker & Associates, LLC and Vice Chairman of the International Securities Exchange.

From Premed to Derivatives.

Frustration with Academia and the Birth of a Profession.

The IAFE and the Road to MSFE Degrees.



About the Contributors.

About the Authors.