Interview Question: Accessing Access

Sample Question #322 (programming)

Briefly explain how you can read from and write to an Access database from within an Excel spreadsheet. Can you also show me how you would do the read and write in VBA (in Excel)?

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Interview Question: Who Worries About Risk?

Sample Question #321 (finance)

Briefly explain the concept of risk-neutral valuation. Also, why do you think it’s okay to apply risk-neutral valuation, given that we know few investors are actually risk-neutral. What are some of the most important implications of the risk-neutral assumption.

Bonus question: Can you think of examples of investors who are truly risk-neutral in the real world, even in the absence of perfectly hedged portfolios?

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Interview Question: Hedge Portfolio

Sample Question #320 (finance – options)

In the context of the Black-Scholes formula, what variables do you need to derive the hedge ratio?

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New Chapter in Life

Recently, I accepted an offer from the large public university where I have been teaching as an adjunct to become a full-time assistant professor. After a decade in quantitative finance (and another few years in software development and management consulting), I have now come full circle and landed back in academia. I’m very excited about this opportunity and the start of a new chapter in my professional life. I enjoy teaching as well as studying financial topics as a researcher.

Even though, as an academic, I’ll no longer be very close to the quant finance job market, I plan to continue doing quantitative consulting work for financial investment firms, and I will be advising graduate students who are considering opportunities in quant finance, so I’ll be keeping abreast of the happenings in the industry. As often as I can, I will continue posting additional job search advice and real-world job interview questions, as well as sharing any information about the quant job market I’ve heard through the grapevine.

As always, happy hunting and best of luck!

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Are You Disadvantaged? Read This Book

An interesting new book — currently available only for the Amazon Kindle e-book platform — I recently came across is “Demystifying the Job Search Process in Quantitative Finance,” by James Lin, Ph.D. The author says he spent five years learning the ropes around finding a quant job, and presents some of the valuable lessons he learned in that time. The e-book is expressly written for what the author calls a “disadvantaged candidate” in quant finance. He says if you satisfy some or all of the following conditions, you are a disadvantaged candidate:

  1. You are an entry-level candidate
  2. You require work permit to work in the U.S.
  3. The financial job market is in recession
  4. Your school is not considered top-tier in the quant finance community
  5. The connections between your school and the quant industry are weak
  6. Your communication and interview skills are not strong
  7. You live or study far away from any major financial centers

The job search ideas the author puts forth are very interesting and many are helpful. I do not agree with his almost gung-ho assessment of LinkedIn and other social networking websites — if you’ve been reading this blog for a while now, you know I’m rather critical, and wary, of such sites, not the least out of concerns for either identy theft or alienating potential employers — but he describes some useful ways for the “disadvanted candidate” to think outside the job search box and bat for a more likely home run, especially in these difficult times.

If you fit the criteria list given above (or even if you don’t but need some more ideas regarding finding real quant job opportunities), I think James Lin’s book is a worthy read. Currently it’s only available for the Kindle e-reader (a PC app is available so you don’t actually need to own a Kindle device to read Kindle books), but I have contacted the author about making it available on other e-reading platforms, such as the Barnes and Noble nook (of which I’m an owner) and the Sony Reader.

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EFinancialCareers User Database Cracked

I just received an e-mail from, one of the financial job websites I have mentioned to job seekers. According to the e-mail:

“Dear eFinancialCareers Member,

This week, we detected illegal access of the eFinancialCareers database which compromised our users’ information. We believe that our registered users’ names, email addresses, registered countries and encrypted passwords have been accessed. At this time, our forensic teams have implemented countermeasures and continue to investigate….” The rest of the letter warns of potential phishing attempts from whoever took the data.

This is why in my book I warn my readers about the consequences of leaving too much personal data on the Internet.

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Get Ready for Openings

A belated happy new year!

It’s January again, which means financial investment firms like banks and hedge funds will be paying out their year-end (from 2010) bonuses soon. (The actual bonus figurse were disclosed to employees back in the 4th quarter.) This means many financial workers will be either changing jobs or getting out of the industry altogether. If you’re looking for a quant job, get into high gear and start searching for job openings actively.

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