Intellectual Curiosity: One of the Keys to Success for the CQF and Beyond

June 2021

CQF Alumni Story: Jean-Paul Jaegers, Head of Asset Allocation, Barclays Wealth & Investments

Before beginning my career, I did a Masters in Finance at Maastricht University, which was proceeded by a business school program focused on Economics. I started my career at Fortis Investments in Multi-Asset Solutions, where I gradually started to divide my work presence between Amsterdam and London. Then my career progressed into BNP Paribas Asset Management in London, as portfolio manager and deputy head of research, also focused on Multi-Asset Solutions, where I would make use of derivatives such as inflation swaps in the absolute return funds. After nearly ten years in asset management, I decided to change environments and accepted a job at a sizeable insurance company, Prudential UK, that was managing in excess of $100 billion in multi-asset funds.

At Prudential, I had regular media exposure and reporting line responsibilities, and even had the opportunity to meet policy board members of the Bank of Japan in Tokyo and official institutions in Washington, for example. About three years ago, another opportunity presented itself and I joined Barclays, in a slightly different setting to what I was used to – wealth management. In this role, I lead a team of investment professionals responsible for the strategic asset allocation and tactical allocation for all multi-asset funds and accounts offered by Barclays in the UK. I love the breadth in this role, ranging from speaking directly with clients and the media, stakeholder management, team leadership, to the technical aspects of financial markets or portfolio optimization. It is interesting to point out, that as rewarding as this has been, for a while when I started my career, I seriously thought about a PhD alongside my job because I always had an intellectual curiosity to learn more about math and finance.

"I completed my final course project on Black-Litterman model and portfolio management, which was directly applicable to my career."

During my career I have been working with highly technical teams, where many people have advanced academic qualifications. Especially when dealing or trading OTC derivatives, my curiosity was triggered to properly understand the pricing mechanisms and algorithms underlying these products. It is crucial to understand the models and math in detail when trading in derivatives in funds on behalf of clients. In 2016, while managing a busy career and a young family, I decided to pursue further professional education and the CQF was an ideal solution. I had worked with people who had completed this training and had strong math backgrounds, and I was drawn to a program that would provide a well-rounded experience. I had a solid grasp of the financial side and welcomed the challenge on the calculus or programming, so the immersion in all three areas was very good. The lectures covered many current topics and it was great to learn from people with both academic interests and experience in financial markets. I completed my final course project on Black-Litterman model and portfolio management, which was directly applicable to my career. 

In terms of the CQF mechanics, I was particularly impressed with the platform for the course. I saw most of the lectures in the evenings directly from my office and the set up worked out very well. The faculty provided great insights and the assignments were practical; you could apply what you had learned in real market situations later on. For those considering the CQF program, I would say that you should expect to spend quite a bit of time studying, as it is quite intense. During the six-month period, I devoted quite a few evenings and weekends to the CQF, alongside my full-time work and raising a young family. I would also encourage you to gain familiarity with at least some aspects of the financial markets first, as your experience with the CQF will be much richer if you come into it with some ideas and perspective. Even if you only have a few years of experience, it is helpful to know how derivatives and other financial instruments work in practice.

"I’d recommend the CQF highly to anyone seeking to make a transition in quant finance, now or in the future."

As for your own professional development for the longer term, I have found that if you work in a professional setting and have strong credentials, that obviously opens doors for you to move forward in your career and in life. I’d recommend the CQF highly to anyone seeking to make a transition in quant finance, now or in the future.

To find out how you could transform your career with the CQF program, please download a brochure or join the next online information session to hear more and ask questions to the CQF Program Director.