Quantitative Finance/ Financial Engineering has a reputation for being a hard-to-get-into field, but it still attracts thousands of very bright young minds each year. The role of a quant or a quantitative trader has been romanticised by the media and several books over the last two decades.
What makes it hard is the inter-disciplinary knowledge that is required. You need to understand not only finance but also mathematics, calculus, algebra, optimization (operational research), engineering elements, probability theory etc.
A quant/ financial engineering career is not for everyone. But if you are a math-geek type who doesn’t mind sitting in front of a computer doing advanced math-stuff each day, then this is definitely a career for you. I have covered this career in more detail here.
It is this complexity which requires a specialised understanding and which is why universities and training providers have created such great courses for quantitative finance. Here are my top picks.
Why you need this certification?
- This is the most comprehensive course on Quantitative Finance outside of an MFA (Masters in Financial Engineering) degree from a top university. And even then, it provides desk-ready skills that formal university programs lack. Which is why I would recommend it even to Finance post-grads interested in becoming a quant or trader.
- Topic coverage includes algebra & calculus as it used for finance, probability theory, stochastic processes, statistics, regression analysis, VBA programming, Monte Carlo and Lattice techniques including some real-world applications. All of this is topped of with a section on giving you desk-ready skills.
- It’s pretty much everything you need to hit the ground running in quantitative finance role. Note that this is an advanced course, so you need to possess a basic prior understanding of mathematical concepts like calculus and probability.
- The course quality itself is top-notch. NYIF is a well-known brand providing financial education to bankers, traders and other finance professionals for over 90 years now. This 5-day crash course can be really helpful if you need to prepare for an interview and the formal certification will most definitely give your CV a boost.
- Time to Complete: 5 days.
- Available fully online in a virtual classroom or on-site.
- The best overall course for Quantitative Finance.
Why take this course?
- Another quality course from Columbia University designed to be used by quants and traders. The course is very high-quality covering concepts from finance, economics, mathematics, statistics, engineering and computer science. It’s pretty much a quant’s wet dream.
- The material is presented in a highly digestive format which makes it palatable for even beginners. Quantitative Finance can be a tricky subject for many, but this course makes it seem easy.
- There are actually two courses with Part 1 focusing on the use of stochastic modelling to price equity, fixed income, credit and MBS derivatives. Part 2 dives deeper into portfolio optimization, and the use of financial engineering for real option pricing and algorithmic trading. I highly recommend you complete both.
- Columbia is an exceptional brand to have on your CV. On successful completion, you get a shareable certificate that you can use to boost your CV or add to your LinkedIn Profile.
- Time to Complete: 30 hours for both Parts 1 and 2.
- Available fully online and on-demand. Complete it at your own pace.
3. Master of Financial Engineering
Why you need an MFE/ MSFE?
- An MFE is undoubtedly the best option for a career in quantitative finance or financial engineering. However, it is a big commitment (financially and you will need to take a sabbatical) and usually undertaken by professionals who already have some experience under their belts and want to further their careers.
- If you fit into that profile and know that you want to be a quant for life, then you should definitely consider an MFE program. The top MFE programs are offered by:
- Given the high opportunity cost of such programs, I only recommend them if you can get into one of the top schools.
- Time to Complete: More than a year.
- Not available online and significant time/ monetary investment.