US Quants: "It's an American? He's not going to be any good"
Do American quants have a bad rep? Ex-Santander SVP, Dimitri Bianco, seems to think so. “When I start jobs, people are like ‘oh, it’s an American? He’s not going to be good,’” Bianco says, “and to be honest I can’t knock them.”
There are plenty of quants in America, but Bianco, who studied financial engineering at the University of Michigan, says they're mostly not Americans: “All the people I’ve worked with, from their 50s going down to their 20s, are disproportionately internationals.”
Bianco is currently head of quant risk and analytics for AI platform Agora Data. He spent six years at Santander and was a director of model risk management at bank OZK in Dallas.
It's difficult to validate his claims, but H1B visa applications regularly show large numbers of visas being allocated to quants in banks and hedge funds.
Bianco says the main issue is that Americans simply don't know what's on offer. “Most math students do not know finance exists.” International students with math backgrounds tend to gravitate towards to quant jobs, while Americans gravitate towards traditional finance and business. "They're not actually math and stats people.”
Bianco himself was a finance undergrad; he started an MFE course at the University of Michigan before switching to an applied economics masters with a quantitative focus.
This doesn’t mean all American quants are terrible. Bianco says there is “a lot of untapped talent in the United States that I think is just going by the wayside because we have done an absolutely terrible job” of reaching out to students.
“When I interview 400 candidates and narrow it down to 5 people, we have a problem,” Bianco says, “I need brilliant and bright minds, and I can’t find them.” He also hits out at quant courses he calls "MBAs in disguise" where graduates "get jobs working in investment firms doing simpleton work a finance major could do."
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