If you want to make really big money in finance now, don’t go into finance. – Or, at least, don’t go into finance first of all. Finish your bachelor’s degree. Take a PhD in a mathematical subject. Join a Microsoft or a Google (or maybe even a General Electric) and hone the craft of writing mathematical algorithms. Then, stick your head above the parapet and wait for the top hedge funds to bite. It worked for Alexey Poyarkov.
This time last year, the Wall Street Journal reports that Poyarkov was a financial neophyte. He’d never worked for a bank, let alone a hedge fund. Today, he’s earning around £536k ($740k) working for TGS Partners in Irvine, a low profile quant fund with a reputation for extraordinary profitability.
Poyarkov’s secret is simple: mathematical genius. As a teenager, he won the International Maths Olympiad. During his early career, he worked for Yandex, the Russian search engine and for Bing (where he developed an algorithm to identify pornography). By the time he expressed an interested in finance, Poyarkov’s expertise in constructing algorithms was already known. Three top hedge funds – Renaissance Technologies, Citadel and TGS – wanted to hire him. Poyarkov chose TGS.
Not everyone can be a mathematical genius of Poyarkov’s stature, but his story is a salutatory reminder of the direction trading jobs are headed. The WSJ points out that Balyasny Asset Management’s chief data scientist, hired last August, came via General Electric and Schlumberger (an oil services company), rather than via Goldman Sachs or J.P. Morgan. As quantitative hedge funds win a higher share of investors’ assets, banks’ traders risk losing one of their exit options: the most…