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Family Offices: Where Quant Careers Go To Die

In most bank and hedge fund trading teams, quants are highly regarded, oftentimes the lynchpin of operations. Demand is still hot for them, but there's one area most elite mathematicians will want to avoid: family offices.

Quants in family offices are brought in with high expectations. The owner of one US family office said that, when looking for quant hires, they're looking for "people with a track record, a real-ass track record. Don't tell me you made a model, tested it a few times, and it works." 

The rewards for this are minimal, if not adverse. One anonymous family office headhunter says working in one as a quant is only your best bet if "you're a second tier candidate that the top funds and technology companies probably wouldn't hire." That's saying something in the current market, as "supply is really thin" for quants.

It can also harm development. The headhunter says quants "grow and develop faster when working with other quants," but "there's only a handful of other guys" in your team. Not only that, he worries that, usually, "the infrastructure isn't advanced and mature enough for you to do your work." Family offices generally pay lower than other firms in finance, and it's no different for quants;  he "can't see them paying more than quant funds in the current market."

The upside? Freedom. The headhunter says "there will be some autonomy and responsibility because there, you're a specialist." Compare this to the major multi-strategy funds; at Citadel, the experience is reportedly universal, with a common "Citadel formula." Millennium's individual pods may offer similar autonomy, but the abundance of people doing potentially similar things leaves you vulnerable to competition and potential cuts.

It's of course worth noting that family offices have just as much variety, and a quant role at one may be completely different to another. It all depends on the principals and their families, so do your due diligence on which ones value quants the most. 

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AUTHORAlex McMurray Editor

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