When I last spoke to Nikita Fadeev, who graduated from St Andrews this past spring with an undergraduate degree in mathematics, he was in the process of planning an ambitious and nearly unprecedented student-organized conference designed to introduce young bright minds to the daunting world of quantitative finance.
For the uninitiated among us, quantitative trading is an umbrella term for a marriage of computer science, mathematics, and finance upon which hedge funds are increasingly relying to better understand and execute trades without the pesky interference of human subjectivity. A computer, the idea goes, will be much better at consistently making money than any flesh-and-bones broker.
Looking back, Mr Fadeev considers last year’s conference, which took place on October 27, 2017, and which brought together 200 attendees ranging from green youths to seasoned tycoons, to have been a great success.
“We got some really good feedback from all of our speakers [and] from attendees,” he notes, commenting that many students who attended last year are reapplying. In their applications, they testify both to their enjoyment of the conference and the substantial boost it gave to their nascent careers in the field.
Almost a year has passed, and Mr Fadeev and his multinational team of impassioned young financiers are now dotting their last i’s and crossing their final t’s to bring together the second iteration of The Quant Conference, a full-day marathon of presentations, talks, and networking slotted to take place November 2 in London.
As he did in the runup to the 2017 forum, Mr Fadeev envisions a gathering singular in scale and focus that will help to “bridge the gap,” as he sees it, between academia and industry. This year’s event will be bigger and better than ever: more banks, more hedge funds, more speakers, and, tallying around 350, more attendees.
The conference brings together gilded names of industry and academia and counts among its sponsors JP Morgan and Bank of America Merrill Lynch. The Saïd Business School at Oxford, the Oxford-Man Institute of Quantitative Finance, and the business school of Imperial College London are all academic partners.
Little wonder, then, that networking is one of the big draws of the conference. Three distinct sessions are explicitly set aside over the course of the day-long event to schmooze and make connections with fellow students and industry professionals, connections that could prove lucrative.
Mr Fadeev notes that “lots of students [who attended last year] got into research projects with our speakers companies and lots of them got full-time positions or internships.”
No less important, however, are the presentations and panel discussions, which the conference’s organizers promise to be geared both to battle-hardened veterans of the quantitative trading world as well as those who are only just dipping their toes into the murky waters of finance.
Topics will range from hedge fund strategies to the relationship between industry and academia. Attendees will choose between two “streams” of talks after lunch, which will see them either sitting in on presentations about cryptocurrency, a new topic this year, or about machine learning in its financial applications. Whatever attendees choose, they’ll be learning about the cutting edge of quantitative finance from some of the names that shape the field.
Students still have time to apply to be one of the 350 attendees expected on the big day; the deadline is Friday October 19. Be aware that a CV will be required in the online application process. Applications are reviewed on a rolling basis, so don’t dally.
If you’re successful, be aware that a payment is necessary to hold your place. Last year, Mr Fadeev was anxious to the point of apologetic about the fees, which this year stand at £39 for current students. He explained that the conference was a not-for-profit endeavour and that fees were in place to ensure that those who committed to the conference actually showed up. All of last year’s profits – $2000 – went to the Robin Hood Foundation.
Those interested in what will prove to be a stimulating and enriching day or in a career in finance should visit thequantconference.com for more information.