From Accounting to Risk Management
My career started in India in enterprise risk management and there, you are basically dealing with the board of directors and senior management team. It requires high level interactions, but not that much quantitative depth in dealing with stakeholders. As an undergraduate, I had done an accounting degree, so I had a good understanding of balance sheets, profit and loss statements and so on. Then I did a Masters in Finance, and over time, I developed an interest in treasury risk management and derivatives pricing. I realized that there was more to learn, especially in order to work with front office people and other desks who use a quantitative language to deal with risk management issues.
It was always a difficult task and once I entered investment banking, after about five years of work experience, I could see that a stronger background in quant finance would be useful. That's when I decided to take a seat on the Certificate in Quantitative Finance (CQF) program.
The first thing I liked about the CQF was that it taught me how to assess a wide range of quantitative concepts, but did not require me to have an engineering background – we picked up the necessary skills and concepts during the studies. After the Primer, we had wonderful sessions with the faculty members who shared industry experiences and practical examples of quantitative finance problems. The pricing and interest rate modeling resonated a lot with me and for my final project I focused on understanding how to structure a mathematical problem, how to visualize the process, and how to use tools like Python to solve them. The whole CQF experience, from studying the course material to implementing the concepts we learned in the program to our final projects helped build a solid foundation for my future work.
Now I am in management for an investment bank dealing with pricing concepts and treasury. Most senior managers in risk were actually front office traders previously and since that is not my own background, the CQF has opened doors. Looking into the future, I have several career options: developing pricing methodologies and tools; working in risk methodology because that also focuses on quantitative finance and pricing assumptions or becoming a pure market risk manager dealing with trading teams. Any of these choices would be a good fit and, as I just completed the program last year, my evolution in risk management is ongoing.
Continuous professional education is important, but it's not necessary to leave your job and go back to school full time. The CQF offers great flexibility, and they give you enough time and space to complete the course work, exams, and final project in a way that works for you. Naturally, such learning can be a tough experience initially because the learning curve is steep, but if we do not stay motivated and take on such challenges, then we may miss out on achieving something special in our professional lives. These days, I frequently use the Lifelong Learning library and I often refer back to books by Paul Wilmott and others to brush up various concepts. The CQF is staying current with what is happening in all areas of quant finance, which is a great advantage in a changing world.
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.