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.



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

Test drive the Quantitative Finance BETA site from Stack Exchange

Quantitative Finance Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for finance professionals and academics. This website covers questions on real-life problems you face such as:

  • securities valuation
  • risk modeling
  • market microstructure
  • portfolio management
  • financial engineering
  • econometrics

And this is not a discussion forum...Quantitative Finance Stack Exchange is all about answers. Pretty straight forward- Ask a question, get an answer! Great resource to check out while it is in BETA.

Other resources for Quantitative Finance:

1. is a quantitative financial portal created by Paul Wilmott. One can find job postings, technical articles, up-to-date news, and other useful resources.

2. QuantStart

QuantStart is a personal website discussing Algorithmic Trading strategy research, development, backtesting and implementation. The author behind this website once worked in a hedge fund as a quantitative trading developer in London. Therefore, his articles are very practical. There are several articles on career development, which are very useful for those unfamiliar with the industry.

3. QuantLib

The QuantLib project is aimed at providing a comprehensive software framework for quantitative finance. QuantLib is a free/open-source library for modeling, trading, and risk management in real-life. It is written in C++ with a clean object model, and is then exported to different languages such as C#, Objective Caml, Java, Perl, Python, GNU R, Ruby, and Scheme.

4. Yahoo Finance

You can get free stock quotes, option prices, up to date news, portfolio management resources, international market data, message boards, and mortgage rates from here.

5. Data and Charts of U.S. Department of the Treasury

Great resource to find all kinds of interest rates related with the U.S. treasury.

6. QuantNet

It is a leading resource on Financial Engineering education and news, but the main focus is education. Quantnet provides detail information about Financial Engineering programs in North America.

By- Xiaohong Chen, Financial Math Intern, May 2015 Graduate

Database trends in financial services that quants should know


Recent trip to New York City included a small alumni meet-up and Data Summit 2014. At Data Summit 2014 we learned about several database trends in financial services well beyond the popular RDBMS (relational databases) including Hadoop Big Data Platforms, NoSQL, NewSQL, and in-memory databases.

Quants know SQL, and it's important for them to be aware of the above database trends and what's driving them in financial services - such as risk analytics and reporting, market data feeds, high frequency trading, regulation, among other use cases driving demand for high volume and scalable, specialized databases.  While many quants are proficient in programming, it's not reasonable to expect them to learn each programming language driving these technologies to access data (Erlang, Javascript, C#, Java, etc).  This is not unique to quants as we're seeing SQL enable wider adoption of the Hadoop Big Data Ecosystems.

Sumit Sarkar of Progress Software (Gold sponsor of our program) talks about how professionals such as those in quantitative finance can easily work with data in the growing landscape of highly specialized database technologies, MongoDB for example, using standard based SQL interfaces such as ODBC and JDBC.


(Alumni Left to Right- Emmanuel Sanchez with Allianz; Director of Career Services, Leslie Bowman; Yoshi Funabashi with Credit Suisse; Brandon Blevins with Credit Suisse)

Keep a lookout for their  "Meet our Financial Math Alumni" interviews.

We will be back again in October, 2014- so all NYC alumni, plan for another fun gathering!

How I landed my dream job two months before graduation

by Samuel Busch, Financial Mathematics student- December 2013 graduate

As a soon-to-be graduate from the Masters in Financial Mathematics (MFM) program at North Carolina State University (NCSU), I thought it might be beneficial to prospective students to write a little bit about my experience in the program, specifically the opportunities the program has given me and what I have gained. Just in the past few weeks, I have landed my dream job working as an Actuarial Assistant for Allianz Life Insurance company.

So, how did I get here?

My undergraduate studies were in Actuarial Science and Statistics. I’ve always loved finding meaning in data and applying my mathematical skills in the “real world” in new and challenging ways. Risk management, insurance, and financial markets are subjects that continue to intrigue me. After earning my bachelors degree, I knew that there was a lot more that I wanted to learn about the mathematics behind risk and financial markets. What are the different kinds of exotic derivatives and how do they work? How do firms manage their exposures to various financial risks? What are the algorithms behind hedge funds? As an undergraduate, I wanted to know more about these questions; thus, I sought to increase my knowledge of quantitative finance through earning my MFM degree at NCSU.

I am so glad I decided to come to NC State and the MFM program for my graduate studies, as I give the program much of the credit for the success I have experienced in the past year and a half. The guidance and mentorship I have received from the MFM program director and the career services director have been extremely helpful and led to my amazing internship experience working as a programmer/modeler for an auto insurance company last summer.

Through volunteering for the program and attending program events, I have been able to meet industry professionals from banking, energy, insurance, risk management, and other technical fields.

As a student in the MFM program, I have received hands-on modeling experience in SAS and Matlab completing projects such as pricing exotic financial derivatives, and I have learned the fundamentals of asset pricing, stochastic processes (such as the stock market), and enterprise risk management.This education, along with my technical internship, has ultimately allowed me to secure my dream job where I will be able to merge my passions for risk management, insurance, and quantitative finance.

How did I “bridge the gap” between my education and finding the right job?

In short- networking through MFM program events and LinkedIn. As I gained experience, I updated my LinkedIn profile and joined groups relating to quantitative finance, actuarial science, insurance, and modeling.

Joining groups on LinkedIn turned out to be highly valuable for me. In fact, the day after I joined an actuarial / predictive modeling group, an actuary/director from Allianz Life posted a job advertisement to the group page and indicated that Allianz was looking to expand some of their actuarial positions. I jumped at the opportunity and applied on LinkedIn and through the Allianz web site. I also contacted the individual advertising the position through LinkedIn directly. This personal contact led to more personal contacts, which led to several phone interviews.

Eventually the phone interviews led to an in-person interview at the Allianz Life campus. During the interview, I highlighted my problem-solving, communication, and teamwork skills as well as my quantitative background, and my biggest selling point was the experience I had gained completing detailed and valuable programming projects for both the MFM program and my summer internship.

As a result of the successful interviews, I was offered and accepted a position as an Actuarial Assistant. In this role, I will work as a modeler and will have exposure to multiple business lines. I will be able to further improve my coding skills and knowledge of various financial and insurance products.

I hope my story helps to demonstrate the opportunities and skills the MFM program at NCSU provides and perhaps provides some encouragement to other students considering enrolling in the program. To new MFM students I would give the following pieces of advice:

1) Get involved with and volunteer for the MFM program

2) Utilize your program advisors and the Director of Career Services

3) Be very proactive with networking (LinkedIn)

4) Although you may not already have much quantitative experience, as you progress in your career, be aware of projects that highlight your analytical ability, communication skills, and teamwork, and use these as examples to leverage your skills to potential employers.