What did you think would make you rich and it didn't ?

What did you think would make you rich and it didn't ?


Working on Wall St. I joined as a derivatives quant in 2006. I made $365K my first year. I felt my math PhD paid off and I had arrived - things would only explode to the upside from here, right?!

Working on Wall St. I joined as a derivatives quant in 2006. I made $365K my first year. I felt my math PhD paid off and I had arrived - things would only explode to the upside from here, right?! LOL

In 2007, our desk did poorly and I underestimated how much of the prior year’s bonus was based on desk performance because first year people usually don’t get too much from desk performance. I got $175K in 2007. I was closer to trading than quant now which is good.

In 2008, the desk lost a bunch (not due to me!) and the bank got crushed by the crisis. The senior people who lost all the money kept their jobs and the other half including me were shitcanned. I made $110K in 2008.

I got rehired by the bank in a consultant job for the quant desk in July after nine months out of work. The crisis was brutal. I only made $48/hr at 55 hours/week. This really sucked because I knew MUCH MUCH more about markets at this point and was being paid the least I ever made. In 2009, I made about $65K.

In 2010, they converted me to full time. I got awards at the bank for creating tools that contributed “tens of millions” to PnL. I made only $300K. Blech relative to my contribution and significant extra knowledge compared to my first year.

In 2011, I was getting more traction as a big contributor. Then in May, the quants were being shifted to IT. That was the last straw. Fuck these motherfuckers. No chance for glory from IT. I had always strongly hinted that I should be trading and being closer to the glory and money and not in some fucking support staff role.

A headhunter connected me to a $4B hedge fund with only 30 people and I thought that would be a good trade with a lot of money to go around. It was a quant role and I told the fund that I really wanted to build out the models and then get a shot at trading - they almost rescinded the offer. They only wanted an obedient nerd that didn’t have ambitions for bigger things. I took the job anyway - I didn’t want the demotion to IT. Turns out that at the fund, I was treated as commoditized IT! At least at the bank, everyone constantly told me how great the work I was doing was. The day I resigned to my boss - in the middle of my resignation actually - my boss’s boss pulled him out of the room. He came back and said he was just fired! His boss wanted me to take over as the new boss. I told them why I was resigning though. Not quite what they expected!

It was just that post crisis, the bank was too fucked to really ever pay good money again. I did get paid $425K for 2011 at the new fund - finally broke the high water mark from my first year!

On bonus day in 2011, the boss of the fund said I was doing a great job and in 2012 he looked forward to my contributions. He then stated with a smile on his face that I would never get additional pay when the fund did well and any (small) incremental bonus just came from doing a good job. I nearly fell out of my seat. I was so sure that he meant the exact opposite that I asked him to repeat, but he was right the first time. Severely demotivated, I stopped giving a shit. I care professionally only about getting paid. I did my job and gave advice about how to approach business problems, but they didn’t care what I had to say and asked that things be done to their spec. So I did - then I got yelled at when their spec turned out to have flaws. My method was better, but only traders have credibility - not some stupid math PhD. I then did it right with the terrible data sources they insist I use which required a lot more work - I suggested much better cleaner data sets requiring much less work, but oh well! I went on vacation and my boss threw me under the bus while I was away due to something he didn’t do correctly. When I returned I got screamed at. Due to this, when I did my self review, I explained why I did a good job and why my boss is a total fuck up. I absolutely slaughtered him and sent my review to the owner of the fund (he reads all self reviews). On bonus day, I got docked $100K, so I only made $325K in 2012. The owner of the fund basically said I suck and I was below average, but he would give me one more chance. It was hard to just fire me since there were only 5 people running all quant and technology for a big fund trading sophisticated derivatives. They need to hire someone first.

I started looking for another job demoralized and full of hate. In June I did a mid year self review. My stuff was working well. Sometimes my boss’s work made mine look bad - he was supposed to make real time data go into my apps and sometimes his real time data feed fed stale data that made my app give wrong numbers. That was his fault not mine. I said my stuff worked perfectly when the real time data feed was working. Of course, the boss took that as another hit at him. They did hire someone and I was fired 2 weeks later. The boss was fired 9 months later - they hired a deputy for my boss, groomed the deputy, and shitcanned my boss. The other tech people quit within a year, but the fund replaced them just in time. The fund is now much bigger and extremely successful much to my chagrin, but I don’t really give a flying fuck because I wouldn’t have gotten paid for that success (others who quit can vouch for that!). In 2013, I got paid $250K.

I was hired at another big macro fund in April 2014 shellshocked and fully understanding I would never get to trade. I was a total professional failure. It’s a job though I guess. I was paid a prorated $425K which came out to about $300K. It was a very nice place to work and I was respected again. The fund was flat in 2014.

In 2015, the fund was flat, but I made $425K again.

In 2016, the fund was flat again and clients were sick of it and they pulled $8B over two years. My quant group was being shut. I was being pushed to IT - the kiss of death. I raised hell. I latched onto a powerful guy at the fund to work for him to avoid the IT scarlet letters. I created a super powerful alpha generating tool in my spare time that was even better than the one at my prior highly successful fund. The big guy I latched into “got it.” Unfortunately, most traders at this fund were much stupider than the ones at my prior fund and were not smart enough to use my tool. One guy was though. The big gun linked me to that guy and he loved what I made. I was about to transfer to him…and then with the fund losing assets like crazy, he resigned leaving me orphaned. He went to my prior fund! Orphaned, the fund failing and me rejecting IT, I was fired again. My big gun could no longer protect me. I got $400K for 2016. I was canned in May 2017. I was hired at my current job for September 2017. All in, both salaries, severance, and prorated bonus for 2017 was $315K. I’m targeted to make $500K this year.

Shortly after being brought in to my current firm, my project was shut down in favor of buying third party and it became more of an IT job than a quant job. I built some amazing stuff that was close to go, but they gave an IT guy control over everything and not the quants. It’s supposed to be the quants make the power tools and we oversee IT so that they get things into production. Then the IT boss suggested canning my quant boss and having me run quant reporting to him. Then he showed me something shiny - maybe there’s a chance to work with the top trader in London. Yes Please!!!!!!! So I rejected the IT boss job in favor of that chance. It didn’t pan out logistically and the new Chief Risk Officer needs quants. So I’ll be heading to risk. Not super shiny, but it’s a job.

That said, the big gun at my prior job quit. He raised $450 million for a brand new fund and wants me to join. I have a tough garden leave policy - almost a year which could block this, but if we can make it work, maybe the path to making millions is not dead yet!!!!!!

I’m not dead yet!

I had several chances to be a boss and would probably be a senior boss by now, but I am easily distracted by shiny things. I am desperate to have that feeling that successful traders have. I want to be the champion of the fucking world. Not the fucking support staff.

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