Photo: Julia La Roche for Business Insider
Over the last 10 years or so there has been a large shift from traditional discretionary trading to automated algorithmic trading where computers are now making the execution decisions. Those decisions, however, are automatically based on programs written by people–also known as the quants.
The quants are the ones working behind the scenes and they really don’t get out all that much.
They spend hours and hours day after day sitting behind multiple computer screens immersing themselves deep in numbers, maths, tick data and market data trying to find relationships that can be mathematically reduced to code.
So we’re told it’s difficult for quants to find networking opportunities with other people in the space.
That’s why Chris Bartlett, director at Nobilis Capital–a small buyside quantitative and high frequency firm, started an annual networking party for the quants.
Business Insider checked out the event, which was sponsored by derivatives exchange Eurex, last Thursday evening at the The Terrace Club in Midtown Manhattan.
The reason for the annual gathering, Bartlett explained to us, is that the reality of the job is that it’s not glamorous.
“In the press, everyone talks about these algos and trading and Wall Street and makes it sound very glamorous,” he said.
The reality of a quant’s life is tough, he explained. A day in the life of a quant would typically consist of coming to work early and sitting in front of multiple computer screens where they will work for 8 to 10 hours.
“You only get a break if you have a group meeting to discuss or have a face-to-face meeting to explore strategy ideas and theories. Basically, it’s very much about a team, but at the same time it’s you and your computer — coding and watching what happens with existing strategies.”
Again, quants spend so much time working that it’s really difficult to get out and meet a lot of other people in this field or speak to someone who actually understands what they do, for that matter.
“The reason I started doing the parties is we spend a lot of time working. We don’t get out to meet people or when we do go to an event there might be other people attending who do not understand what we do so we can’t have a meaningful conversation,” Bartlett told Business Insider.
“I just started because I wanted to meet other quants and talk to other practitioners in relaxed setting,” he said.
In attendance at the event were quants ranging from research (“the really brainy ones with Ph.D.s”) to the coders and developers from both investment banks and hedge funds.
Of course, not everyone there was a quant. There were also fund managers, broker-dealers and traders at the event, too.
In case you missed this year’s party, we’ve included some photo highlights of some of the people we met and already knew.