Two Months Into My Quantic Journey

Last month I posted about having enrolled for Quantic’s Executive MBA. While only a couple of months have passed, my experience so far has been very positive. Just to share some background, I decided to pursue this degree as a way to get a good general grasp of the business skills which are required in running a company. My education so far has been skewed towards Finance (specifically the area of financial engineering and risk) and I felt that I lacked a broader understanding of how companies operate, something which I believe is important, especially for senior managerial positions. The second appeal was purely a desire to expand my network and to build up connections outside of my industry. As I wrote in my first post, I was initially apprehensive in enrolling and turned my offer down as I considered $9,600 to be too expensive on a relatively new course which is mostly based on an app. I eventually decided to take a gamble as the degree has been gaining more and more momentum and having not found a suitable alternative, I enrolled. I did not want to give up my day job for a full-time MBA and I did not want to commit in paying the fees charged by traditional business schools.

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Are Quantic’s MBA and EMBA Worth it?

For those of you who are reading this post, chances are that you might have come across Quantic’s MBA programmes and that you are looking for what people are saying about it before you further consider it an option for boosting your career. This degree has been on my radar for over a year and despite still having some doubts, I recently decided to take a gamble and enrol onto their EMBA programme. I did a fair bit of research and I must say that the information that is available online is still limited and the quality of the reviews are poor. Most of the reviews that I came across were too one-sided; on one side people claiming that this is another degree mill, on the other side people advocating that the Quantic MBA was one of the best career decisions that they had ever made. In the following months, as I start my studies with this institution I am hoping to add my take on this programme.

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World Quant University (WQU)’s Financial Engineering Programme, my thoughts about the Course after 1 year.

A year ago I started studying the MSc in Financial Engineering offered by WQU and I wrote about the course here. As I am writing this post, I have now completed around 60% of the modules so I thought that an update would be helpful for prospective students.

These are the modules that I have completed:

(1) Financial Markets: this is a general introduction to financial markets and financial products. As the course caters towards students with different backgrounds, if you have studied for financial qualifications (such as CFA, FRM etc.) you will find this to be a gentle refresher. As it’s hard to test any maths skills, most of the assignments/essays will be theoretical.

(2) Econometrics: OK, you will finally get your hands dirty and start doing some work with time series. You will start with classic models such as GARCH, ARCH, ARIMA in analysing time series of end of day asset prices. Although you get the choice between R and Python, at least for this module, I strongly recommend sticking to R (lecture notes are better written for R).

(3) Discrete-time Stochastic Processes, (4) Continuous-time Stochastic Processes: these two courses in my opinion are at the heart of the programme; when it comes to asset pricing, having an understanding of stochastic processes and their properties is indispensable when deriving pricing equations of various claims. These two modules will be especially tough for candidates with a weak mathematical background. These concepts are quite abstract so they just require some time to sink in – I wouldn’t get discouraged if you see a massive knowledge gap. The assignments were focused on applying Monte Carlo methods and analytical pricing formulas on exotic derivatives. The projects from these modules were the most enjoyable so far.

(5) Computational Finance
This module builds on a lot of the concepts learned during the previous two modules by teaching students how to implement the concepts in python. It has an emphasis in applying Monte Carlo Methods in pricing exotic options and computing CVA. I found this module to be very practical.

(6) Machine Learning in Finance
They seem to cover a lot of the so called classic topics in ML: classifiers, supervised & unsupervised learning, etc. You will be using tensor-flow in training the various models, making predictions and assessing the model’s accuracy.

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Taking the Tableau Desktop Specialist Exam

Over the years, Tableau has become a very popular BI tool for companies. The software allows users to easily connect to a number of data sources and create a wide range of visualisations; it is very intuitive to use but also comes with a lot of features which allows users to create very cool looking dashboards.

Candidates can also get certified so they can show employers and clients that they have attained a certain level of mastery in using this product. In this post I will be writing about the Tableau Desktop Specialist exam which is the foundational exam. Details regarding this certification can be found here. The exam is aimed at candidates with at least 3 months of experience in using Tableau and it costs $100 to take which is relatively low. The certification also has no expiry (compared to the other Tableau exams). Taking into account the cost and preparation time, I think this certificate is a good investment and could be an added bonus to a candidate’s CV as more and more companies are starting to implement Tableau.

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World Quant University (WQU)’s Applied Data Science Module

So, you are interested in Data Science and you have come across this free course offered by WQU and you are evaluating whether this course might be worth your time. In this post I will share my experience from having taken this course six months ago. WQU shared a list of key skills which are used on this course which can be found here. At first, the course starts with basic concepts of programming such as: defining variables, data types, loops, functions, classes, etc. It then builds on these core concepts and introduces key packages such as NumPy and Pandas which have ready made modules to read in data. I would say that the rest of module 1 can be summarised in transforming this data and querying it; it’s no coincidence that WQU put ‘Data Wrangling’ at the top of the skills list.

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Re: Bloomberg Opinion Piece: “Wall Street’s CFA Program Is a Colossal Waste of Time”

On 17th August 2021, Bloomberg published an opinion piece titled “Wall Street’s CFA Program Is a Colossal Waste of Time ” and this post is a response to that article. The CFA Charter has very often been regarded as the gold standard when it comes to qualifications in the financial industry and this article has undoubtedly ignited some discussions, with subreddit threads such as this one being just one of the few examples. Calling the CFA program a “Colossal Waste of Time” seems to be a pretty bold statement and given that in the article the author (Jared Dillian) mentions that he passed level I but never completed the qualification, a lot of readers were quick to dismiss his opinion. The author also expressed his view that he favours MBAs over the CFA program which caused a slight digression towards the comparison of the two qualifications. However, some readers were eager to identify elements of truth in the article as they possibly mull over their options following the decrease in pass rates for the latest sittings.

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May 2021 CFA Level I Results at Historical Low, only 25% Pass

The May 2021 numbers for the level I exams have recently been made public, a result that saw only a quarter of test takers get a pass. This is an extremely low pass rate and to put this number into context, this is the lowest pass rate in the exam’s 58-year history. By looking at the historical pass rates published by CFAI, we can see that the percentage of candidates passing the exam is between 40-50%.

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OK, I got the CFA charter, what now?

As someone who got the CFA charter six years ago, I recall that when I was studying the curriculum, I came across a lot of advice on forums where discussions were centred around passing the exams but after passing my level III exam, I felt that I needed more guidance on reaping the rewards of my hard work. If you passed the level III exam, chances are that you studied over 1000 hours (this is a rough calculation based on the study hours that CFA Institute estimate). Having had six years of experience as a professional with this designation and having changed jobs a number of times, I would like to share some thoughts that I am hoping newly qualified charterholders might find helpful.

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Level 2 of the CMA (Certified Member Analyst) Exam

On 6th June 2021, I sat level 2 of the CMA exam. For those of you who are not familiar with this exam, CMA which stands for Certified Member Analyst is a financial analyst exam administered by the Securities Analysts Association of Japan. There is a big overlap with the CFA exam and the qualification is very well respected in Japan. I would say that most financial professionals in the industry possess this qualification. I introduced level 1 in a past post which you can access here.

Candidates who pass level 1of the exam can apply to receive the learning materials for level 2 and will then have three attempts to take within three years. Should a candidate not pass the exam in the 3 attempts, they will need to re-apply to study the level 2 curriculum otherwise they will need to re-start from scratch by having to retake level 1. This is a very important point to be aware of if you are registered to take this exam.

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Exam Preparation Tips

Dear Reader, if you are reading these words, chances are that you have an important exam coming up and that you are looking for some helpful content online. Or maybe you are just looking for a good excuse to put off your revision. If you have been kind enough to read other posts on this blog, you might have seen that I have sat a number of finance exams so I hope that you can let me get away with me referring to myself as a self proclaimed test taker. The whole point of this brief post is sharing what I’ve learned through years of test taking, hoping to make these 5-10 minutes worthwhile for you.

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