Bridging Academics from the Classroom to Practice

New Class for NC State’s Financial Mathematics Graduate Program: Practical Portfolio Management.

The Masters of Financial Mathematics at NC State is offering a new course, Practical Portfolio Management.  This course is about bridging the gap between academic knowledge/modeling and the practice of managing a portfolio. If you are a student studying in a quant/finance field, you might have asked yourself questions like "how can I apply this theorem in practice?" or "how practitioner operate things in practice?" These questions are critical to successfully moving your academic knowledge from the classroom to the workplace.

The course starts by considering what contributes to the risk premium; business risk, financial risk, liquidity risk, exchange rate risk, and/or political risk. Students make their own asset allocation decisions, by first creating their own policy statement, creating an initial portfolio, then rebalancing their portfolio on a weekly basis.

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Portfolios can be composed of a wide variety of assets, such as the S&P 500 Index, Equity ETFs, Treasury bonds, Stocks, and etc., is a typical example. The course will cover the pros and cons of quantitative tools.  Decisions to adjust portfolios or asset allocations may be based on the managers’ view, or on more quantitative algorithmic strategies implemented in R (portfolio-trading) or Python (see crowdsourcing ideas leader Quantopian).

portfolio dashboard

A critical aspect of managing their portfolio is the justifications for the asset allocation and rebalancing decisions.  The decisions will be influenced by the rapidly evolving financial landscape, and will necessitate considerations of events that can have strong impacts on your portfolio, such as Brexit (see discussions by Schwab and Forbes), Greece returning to debt markets, and the November elections in the US.

profit target

The course will have a nontraditional structure.  The traditional lecture-homework-exam structure is replaced by actively managing their $100,000,000 portfolio throughout the semester. Similar courses are sometimes offered through extension courses, such as Options, Trading and Strategies at UCB and Strategic Portfolio Decisions at Stanford.

Richard Ellson

Dr. Richard Ellson created this course.  He recently joined NC State’s Masters of Financial Mathematics as an Adjunct Associate Professor. Dr. Ellson’s career started as a tenured professor at the University of South Carolina.  He was recruited to work at Wall Street firms and spent 25+ years in the finance industry. Richard has worked in several areas, and has deep experiences in residential whole loan mortgages and agency/non-agency mortgage-backed securities. His broad experience in research, trading/hedging, structured finance (domestic and foreign), and product development will guide FM students to success in their prospective career.

Textbook:  Analysis of Investments and Management of Portfolios. Keith C. Brown, Frank K. Reilly, 10th edition.

More about Dr. Ellson: http://www.ellsonconsulting.com

blog post created by J. Scroggs and Daihon Kwon.

 

Fantastic Diverse Class of Students Starting Fall 2016 in the Financial Mathematics Program

Message from the Director...

Fantastic Diverse Class of Students Starting Fall 2016 in the Financial Mathematics Program

Class of 2016-2017

I am excited to welcome the class of 2017-2018 to the Masters of Financial Mathematics. The largest reward for me comes from working with talented and motivated candidates. Students always come from a variety of backgrounds and countries. This year, the main countries of origin are China, US, and India, but Korea, Kyrgyzstan, Iran, and Malaysia are also represented.

While in NC State’s Financial Mathematics Program, you’ll learn synthesize theory with practice to analyze, quantify, manage and predict risks associated with financial instruments and price options, derivatives, and futures. Joining the MFM program means you’ll have a holistic educational experience, developing skills that enable a lifetime of personal and professional growth.

Huanying – Welcome – Swagat

Prof. Scroggs

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

Financial Math Alumni Panel Discussion on Big Data, High Frequency Trading and more…

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(Above left to right- Jeff Scroggs, Jonathan Leonardelli, Jared Bogacki, Ryan Wesslen, Albert Hopping, Emmanuel Sanchez)

Jeff Scroggs, Director of the Financial Mathematics Program, conducted a panel of industry experts on trends in financial mathematics and quantitative risk.  Three of the practitioners,  Jared Bogacki (BB&T),  Jonathan Leonardelli (Financial Risk Group), and Emmanuel Sanchez (Allianz), were from the class of 2004 – the first class to graduate with a Masters of Financial Mathematics.  Two of the panelists,  Albert Hopping (SAS Institute, class of 2007) and Ryan Wesslen (Bank of America, class of 2009), were more recent graduates.

The panel offered the audience an opportunity to see what role quants play in optimal business practices.

All the panelists agreed that their Masters of Financial Mathematics from NC State opened opportunities for career advancement, ranging from a entry-level quant positions to promotions to lead quant.

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Jared Bogacki started with the topic of 'Big Data'.  'Big Data' is the use of data sets so large and complex that it has become difficult to process them using traditional tools or data processing applications.  It is currently a hot specialization for quants, and will likely remain a sector of the job market that is hungry for well-qualified people. 'Big Data' is a broad term that covers several topics including analytics used to glean market sentiment as well as some aspects of high frequency trading.

High-Frequency Trading (HFT) is algorithmic trading that uses algorithms to rapidly trade securities. The methods involve proprietary trading strategies carried out by computers to move in and out of positions in fractions of a second.  Of course, there are many different approaches to HFT that range from geometric observations (Golden Cross) to taking advantage of arbitrage opportunities across markets (e.g. New York vs London).  Albert Hopping was asked, “Do you think HFT is good or bad for markets?”  He pointed out that HFT is really a response to the way electronic trading in markets such as the New York Stock Exchange and Chicago Mercantile Exchange function are regulated.  HFT reduces friction by providing liquidity, but it can also cause flash crashes that force markets to temporarily halt trading.  There was consensus that such trading is impossible to control – regulations always lag advances in technology.

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Effective deployment of quantitative risk management is a challenge for all businesses, large and small. Jonathan Leonardelli led this discussion.  There are many aspects to risk management, ranging from data mining for parameter estimation to the creation of dashboards in the context of Enterprise Risk Management. The push to use more quantitative risk measures can come from inside the business or from outside.  For example, regulations like the Dodd-Frank act require more transparency from banks and reliable quantitative measures for stress testing.

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Emmanuel Sanchez was asked to lead the discussion on how weather-related risks can be controlled. Climate change has brought the spotlight on some of the impacts of short-term and long-term weather. Catastrophe bonds can provide protection against large-impact short-time events such as hurricanes and floods; whereas, weather insurance provides coverage based on measures such as annual rainfall and heating degree days (when it is cold enough to need a furnace).  The availability of these securities and derivatives allows the sharing of risk inherent in sectors like farming and homeowners insurance.

Ryan Wesslen was asked to share his favorite/best model in the area of consumer credit risk and/or counterpart credit risk.  Of course, quants do not share the best model to predict recent trends, but many share their wisdom in hindsight after a particular model offers no significant competitive advantage.  No model is likely to produce a clear crystal ball with excellent valuations, and all models provide some level of insight. For example an individual’s credit scores, like many holistic indicators, are good at the extreme high and low ends. But scores in the middle aren’t good predictors of default risk.

Thank you Jared, Albert, Jonathan, Emmanuel and Ryan!

Keep a lookout for an upcoming new blog series- interviews with a featured alumnus to learn even more about his or her experience and expertise.

NC State’s Financial Math 10 year anniversary celebration

On Friday, April 25th 2014, NC State's Masters of Financial Math program celebrated it's 10 year anniversary. Alumni, employers, faculty and current students enjoyed an evening together catching up, networking and enjoying authentic Szechuan cuisine in SAS Hall. Big thanks to our sponsors: Andrew Davidson & Co., Progress Software , and The Sloan Foundation.

Below are a few pictures that captured the fun event.

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Thanks to everyone that came!

Keep a lookout for an upcoming post on the recap of the Alumni Panel discussion that proceeded this event.

NC State's College of Science article about the Financial Math program

Photography- Michael Zirkle

Music- Bruce Emery

These students made it through the rigorous Financial Math program at NC State

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(Left to Right- Xue Miao, Xinyuan Huang, Director- Jeff Scroggs, Director of Career Services- Leslie Bowman, Zhe Wang, Zhexing Zhang, Meenakshi Ramchurn, Sohaila Shaukat). Not pictured- Rana Kashif, Haozhi Wei, Zhengran Zhou, Samuel Busch, Kathy Varga, Xiangju Wang, Cheng Yu, Shihao Zuo, Meng Yang, Wen Zhong, Ying Xu)

The students (pictured above) proudly graduated on May 9, 2014 and received their Masters in Financial Mathematics (MFM) degree. They are excited and happy to achieve this meaningful accomplishment. Their hard work and long hours of studying paid off!

Sohaila Shaukat shares more details:

What was the most rewarding assignment or project of the program?
"The most rewarding project of the program was the one we did on asset pricing in 'Computational Methods in Economics and Finance' course. The project solidified my interest in derivative pricing and helped me build on what I had previously learned in Monte Carlo Methods for Financial Mathematics and Asset Pricing. Also, this added a lot to my resume, as employers are constantly seeking people who can build financial models and have a little bit of experience in it. It was also the reason I landed with an internship over the summer with Tata Consultancy Services."
What was the most interesting or favorite course and why?
"Most of the courses were rewarding. But my two most favorite courses are 'Computational Methods in Economics and Finance' and 'Time Series Analysis'. Both are difficult courses with brilliant professors, and helped me enhance my skills in data modeling, derivatives pricing and financial modeling. These courses also introduced me to R-programming and enhanced my skills in Matlab."
How many hours a week did you spend studying (on average)?
"I studied 20 to 30 hours per week on average. 20, when we didn't have to submit assignments in every course, and 30 or more usually when exam week/ mid terms are near."
Anything you would have done differently throughout your time here?
"I would have worked harder on the courses that involved a lot of Statistics and Stochastic Calculus. Since I had a non-mathematics background, I should have spent a lot more time on them. Also, I would have started applying for full time positions in July, 2013, instead of delaying it till January, 2014. This is because most major banking/wealth management firms hire their graduate trainees between July to December."
Sohaila's hard work paid off since she had several interviews and received a job offer. Look forward to a future post about her story.

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(Xinyaun Huang, Xue Miao, Zhe Wang, Zhexing Zhang)

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(Sohaila Shaukat, Director, Jeff Scroggs, Meenaski Ramchurn)

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(Time to celebrate!)

We congratulate them and wish many, many years of success!

To learn more about the program: Financial Math program details

 

Staying in contact with alumni

Rockefeller Center, NYC

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On our last trip to New York City in October, 2013 for the annual IAQF Career Fair (http://www.finmathjobfair.org/), we got the opportunity to meet up with several alumni who work in the city. Keeping in touch with alumni is important for many reasons and we are glad to catch up on their latest news and career successes at Credit Suisse, JP Morgan Chase, Allianz, A.R.T. Investors, Centerbridge Partners, etc.

(Below left to right, Christian Wypasek, Jeff Scroggs, Leslie Bowman)

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(Below left to right, Leslie Bowman, Jeff Scroggs, Stephen Zhou- 2002, Emmanuel Sanchez-2004)

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(Below left to right, Miao Yu- 2008, Jeremy Smith- 2010, Jeff Scroggs, Leslie Bowman, Cheng Chen-2012, Xuan Fu-2013, Samuel Busch-2013)

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We look forward to our next trip to New York and future alumni meet ups!

Welcome to NC State’s Financial Mathematics Blog!

"This blog is dedicated to all things related to NC State’s Masters of Financial Mathematic (MFM) program. This blog will feature posts from the Director, Dr. Scroggs; the Director of Career Services, Leslie Bowman; and current students including Career Ambassadors. Occasionally, local employers and MFM alumni may post content too. Keep checking back for up to date information, news and events of the growing and successful MFM program at NC State!"- Leslie Bowman, Director of Career Services

"I am pleased that NC State Financial Mathematics now has it's own blog.  This is an exciting time for our program.  Recent developments include the addition of Leslie Bowman, Director of Career Services, new courses, and companies opening offices in Raleigh.  I look forward to using this web space to explore these developments, and I hope you (the readers) enjoy reading about them." - Jeff Scroggs, Director