Networking and making connections- tips for Financial Math students

Are you an introvert? Are you shy? Are you nervous talking and meeting professionals? Many Financial Math students have answered yes to these questions.


Networking and making connections can be scary. What do I say? What if they do not like me or want to talk to me? Networking and making meaningful connections is essential to increase your chances of landing an interview for a job opportunity. Here are some tips:

Plan a time limit. By setting a time limit, the event will not seem like an unending activity. Being around people can deplete your energy and that can make networking events uncomfortable. Plan to rest before and after networking events so you have energy while you are attending the event.

Set a goal. Give yourself a goal on how many people you want to have meaningful conversations with. This provides purpose and helps you to focus on talking to the right people rather than talking to everyone.

Understand your fear. When you understand what part of networking brings you anxiety, you can isolate the specifics and find resources to help reduce the fears. If needed, you can ask for help and alleviate stress from the next tip...

Bring a friend. You may feel more comfortable attending networking events if there is someone who can support you. They may also share the same anxieties and together you can work to overcome those fears. Just remember to not only talk to your friend.

Focus on the other person. Divert attention from yourself by asking questions to put focus on their career stories, experiences and advice. This will help to reduce your stress, and provide you the information you are seeking.

Finally, smile. 🙂 People who attend networking events are there to help others or gain advice and help for themselves. They want to meet you!

Financial Math socials- a fun break from the rigorous coursework


In the midst of the busy life with assignments and projects, Financial Math students have the opportunity to take a break with social events scattered throughout the semesters. The socials are fun and act as stress busters in between long hours of studying. More importantly, the socials bring everyone together and allow the students to bond outside the classroom.


Last Spring 2015 semester, our Director of Career Services and Director hosted events such as bowling, Chinese New Years potluck and a spring picnic with team games. The Financial Math program does a great job of ensuring all students enjoy their time at NC State.

We had a great time and look forward to future Financial Math socials Fall and Spring semesters. Thank you Leslie & Jeff! - Preethi Kankanala, Financial Math Intern, December 2015 Graduate








Congratulations to our May 2015 Graduates!


Congratulations to everyone who graduated this May 2015! We are proud of your hard work and wish you many years of success.

We our proud to announce that our recent graduates received offers and have started working at Bank of America, Genworth, SAS, BB&T, Credit Suisse, Deutsche Bank, Maxpoint, & Aohey, LLC.



Re-cap IAQF’s “How I became a Quant” at NC State

On Friday evening, Nov 14th 2014, NC State’s Financial Math program and IAQF (International Association of Quantitative Finance) hosted the event “How I Became a Quant”. The panel included Financial Math alumni, Jared Bogacki with BB&T and Albert Hopping with SAS, as well as Altrius Capital Founder, Jim Russo and current student Jeff High with Captrust. They each took turns sharing their career path stories with the audience and answered questions about quantitative careers. Dr. Jeff Scroggs, Director of the Financial Math program, acted as the moderator for the event.


To start, Jim Russo talked about his background and starting his company, Altrius Capital in 1997. He enjoys quantitative finance and visited investment firms to learn more about the field, which included networking with his best friend who got an MBA from Princeton and worked at Bernstein (Alliance Bernstein). This inspired him to open his own investment management and financial consulting business in New Bern, North Carolina. Altrius Capital also has an office in downtown Raleigh, North Carolina and is growing fast.


Next, FM Alumnus, Albert Hopping shared his career path story. He got his Bachelors in Physics at NCSU and then worked in the energy industry as a Risk Analyst. Several years later, he enrolled in the Financial Math program at NCSU and learned more about quantitative analyzing. He found it be interesting and amazing. Thus, this led to his current role at SAS where he applies quantitative analysis to his daily work. You can read his personal interview here.

Jeff High is finishing up his Financial Math degree at NC State. He did his undergraduate studies in Finance and Financial Economics, and then got a job at Wells Fargo. In 2006, he noticed his job became more and more quantitative. During 2007 to 2009, he worked at another investment firm and managed a team in Valparaiso, Chile while supporting New York, London, and Hong Kong trading services. Due to the 2008 financial crisis, he came back to US and and started his Masters in Financial Math at NC State while working at other investment firms. He realized technology skills are very important, which he is enhancing through the Financial Math program.

Lastly, FM Alumnus, Jared Bogacki shared his career path and has worked at BB&T for more than 10 years. He is currently a manager about shared his expertise and advice to current students on getting a job in the field. Jared and Albert both emphasized the importance of communication as a top soft skill to sharpen as it is required to be successful in the industry.


After they shared their stories, Dr. Scroggs asked them about careers and salaries in the Financial Math industry, and work and life balance. Mr. Hopping said there is a high correlation between working hard and receiving high rewards and benefits. Thus, the harder you work, the more you are rewarded. But that comes with longer hours and stress. Mr. Russo made the point that if you enjoy what you are doing, the long hours and hard work will pay off and the stress is worth it because you are doing something you value. Mr. Bogacki agreed and mentioned the importance of having passion in what you do. Being overly stressed and not enjoying your job is not ideal and students should choose a career path that closely aligns with their interests, talents and passion.

They also talked about specific courses and types of technical skills students need to gain to be successful. All panelists stressed to not only focus on academics but to enhance business and soft-skills such as communication, interpersonal and problem solving skills. Being able to clearly articulate ideas, processes and models to clients and business colleagues is very important. Mr. High gave personal examples of his own experiences to emphasize the importance of gaining and improving technical and soft skills as significant factors in succeeding with one's own career path.

The audience had an opportunity to ask several questions about interview tips, types of interview questions expected in interviews, and other tips to succeed in the Financial Math industry. Thank you Jim, Albert, Jeff and Jared! Everyone enjoyed hearing your career stories and expert advice. The evening ended with a reception held in SAS Hall.



Upcoming “Unconstrained Fixed Income” workshop- by Jim Russo, Altrius Capital

NC State's Financial Math program is proud to host workshops taught by alumni, professional experts and area employers to provide practical industry techniques and training for students. The series of workshops include topics of financial risk, credit risk, stress testing and fixed income. Workshops are intended to provide opportunities for students to enhance their professional and career development, as well as strengthen soft skills highly sought by employers such as presentational skills, business writing, teamwork, and conflict resolution.

Jim Russo, Founder and Chief Investment Strategist at Altrius Capital, will be leading a series of workshop on Fixed Income. Jim is also a Board Member for the Financial Math program. Below is an outline of what will be discussed:

Unconstrained Fixed Income Workshop

Learn how to invest differently than traditional fixed income management.

· Use contrarian thinking to help identify opportunities

· Employ quantitative screens to fixed income marketplace

· Address importance of Global Macro strategy

o Duration

o Credit

o Yield Curve

o Sector rotation

· Fundamental Analysis utilizing Income statement vs. Balance sheet

Thank you Jim! Students are looking forward to this workshop!

Congratulations December 2014 Financial Math Graduates-100% placement!

Congratulations to our small, but successful December 2014 graduating class! These students hard work paid off as they enter the work world in January, 2015. Reshmi Paul will be working at T.Rowe Price, Changyi He will be working at Deloitte and Liye Wang will move back to Beijing, China to work for a commercial bank. We are proud of you and wish you all the best of luck!

Left to Right- Liye Wang, Leslie Bowman (Director of Career Services), Jeff Scroggs (Director), Changyi He. Not pictured- Reshmi Paul

Left to Right- Liye Wang, Leslie Bowman (Director of Career Services), Jeff Scroggs (Director), Changyi He. Not pictured- Reshmi Paul

"I enjoyed my time at NC State's Financial Math program. The people are nice and the program gave me a lot of opportunities to network with professionals, as well as learn practical knowledge on how to apply mathematics to the finance industry."- Changyi He

"The Financial Math program is excellent in combining financial knowledge, mathematics, and programming. It provides us the tools to help us be successful with our future professional careers."- Liye Wang

IAQF’s “How I became a Quant” comes to NC State!


We are pleased to announce this event below:

Financial Engineers Give a Personal View of their Careers in Quantitative Finance

A Series of Panel Discussions For Students Interested in a Career in Quantitative Finance

How I Became a Quant: North Carolina State University's Financial Math Program

Friday, November 14
5:00pm Registration
5:30pm Program Begins
6:30pm Reception & Networking

North Carolina State University- SAS Hall
2311 Stinson Drive- Room 2203


Jared Bogacki- BB&T

Jeff Rockwell High- Captrust

Albert Hopping- SAS

James Russo- Altrius Capital

Moderator- Jeff Scroggs

Registration is Complimentary!
Please Click Here to Register

Re-cap of Hedge Fund Challenge 2014

By Dendi Suhudby, May 2016 graduate

A couple of weeks ago a few students in the Financial Math program decided to attend the local Hedge Fund Challenge held nearby at the Washington Duke Inn in Durham. Once we heard about this event from local alumni and current students, we immediately became interested. I researched the event to learn that it was a challenge to pitch an investment strategy for a new startup hedge fund. This really sparked my interest, because hedge fund structures allows us to find strategies in broad range of asset classes compared to, for instance, finding investment strategies for mutual funds or traditional investment vehicles.


I attended the event with our Program Director, Dr. Scroggs and current student, Bingxi Du (both pictured above). The other participating teams were from Duke, UNC Chapel Hill, Eastern Carolina University, University of Richmond, and Elon University. There were 5 scheduled speakers to gave lectures about 5 main points of an investment strategy buildup:

1. Idea generation

2. Valuation

3. Macroeconomic Analysis

4. Risk Management

5. Trade Structuring

Here are the summaries of the speakers lecture.

1. Idea generation

Idea generation is all about the brainstorming and finding inefficiencies in several asset classes for an opportunity to take an advantage for convergence of mis-pricing. For an example, in an idea generation there may be due diligence from a researcher, portfolio manager and the investor relations on the company’s on going corporate strategies. There might be more indirect idea generation by looking at data from Bloomberg and making a quantitative analysis pattern on data.

2. Valuation

The part of the valuation is where you pull up a spreadsheet and try to predict the outcome of the investment strategy in todays time. In finance lingo, it is the process to project future cash-flows and discount back to todays present value. The highest valuation of the investment opportunities are then chosen.

3. Macroeconomic Analysis

Macroeconomic analysis is done to find the possible directions of the environment say for example of interest rates, or business policies that are favorable for specific industries.

4. Risk Management

The portfolio manager and the buy side researcher then finds possible deviations of outcomes through risk analysis. For example using scenario analysis, they would scenario the investment strategy if there is a deviation of parameters within their models that change the outcome of investments. Within this process, the portfolio managers also find ways to hedge the investment if something goes in an adverse way or how to completely liquidate the investment if it is on loss.

5. Trade Structuring

After doing all those above, then portfolio managers make the decision to structure their trade either 1) buying the underlying asset or 2) enter a derivative contract. For example, if a portfolio manager has the view that the interest rates would increase he/she might want to short bonds or has the possibility to enter in interest rate future contracts in the Chicago Mercantile Exchange or even enter an OTC Credit Default Swap. Even these three investment strategy are betting on an increase in interest rate; there are several things that needs to be decided such as liquidity of each asset (futures liquidity > CDS liquidity > bond liquidity) where the future asset class might be more favorable than shorting the bond.



The main conclusion of the kickoff event and the hedge fund lectures are that to conduct a trade takes a lot of effort, brainstorming, quantitative analysis, and due diligence, differs far from the public opinion that a hedge fund bets on reckless investments. Hedge funds also are much more flexible than other fund structures because of its unregulated nature, and it can also invest in exotic investment structures that mutual funds cannot invest in.- Dendi Suhudby.