I will graduate with an applied mathematics PhD within the next few months. My research has been on mathematical/numerical methods for waves in liquids and gas. I have received unsolicited emails about quant finance positions from companies and recruitment services, and I am now considering going into this field.

I would much prefer to enter the field after taking 6 months out post-PhD to thoroughly refresh my knowledge of probability/statistic/machine learning and to get up to speed on other relevant areas such as stochastic ODEs/PDEs and financial math and risk. None of these topics were relevant to my research so it is several years since I encountered them and some I have never covered at all.

I would be extremely wary of walking into a situation where I felt compromised from day 1 due to being among other quants who specialized in these topics during a PhD or quant finance MSc. I can't stress that enough..of course no-one likes feeling compromised but I know from experience it affects my performance a lot more than the average and its not just a case of 'oh everyone feels like that when starting a new position'.

Do you think I would still have a chance at getting into the field if I took this time out to study/refresh these topics for 6 months or would that look terrible? What about discussing this with one of the agencies that has contacted me..would it be a bad idea to mention that I would prefer to do this than interview for a position straight after the PhD?


If you would like to obtain a job as a quant first you have to pass a job interview in a company. During the job inteview you will be asked about basic math (derivative, integral, limit, etc.), stochastic analysis (martingale, Wiener process, Poisson process, etc.), ODE, PDE, SDE, risk measures, Black-Scholes model, short-interest rate models, Value at Risk, probability, econometry, statistics, etc. What is more, it is very important to have at least basic programming skills (Excel, VBA, SAS, R, C++, Python, Matlab, etc.). You can also expect some brain teasers. More information about job interview details (how to prepare, what to expect) you can easily find on the Internet.

Therefore, I would recommend you to prepare yourself in the mentioned above topics first and then apply to obtain a job as a quant (either by using agency or by yourself).

PhD title in math is useful but does not guarantee a job...

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