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The personality traits that separate elite quants from the average

What makes a quantitative researcher or developer special? What separates the hedge fund quants earning millions each year from the upstart trading crypto with Python algorithms? For nuclear physicist-turned Wall Street quant-turned Columbia University professor Michael Robbins, there are some key attributes that make good quants great.

Speaking with CitiesABC, Robbins said it's all about "edge?" Quants need to be "angling and aggressive, looking for opportunities as small as they can be." Robbins said, "there's almost an infinite number of different products you can trade." Going down the path less travelled may yield more exciting results than, for example, a pairs trade which already has "a million blogs on how to optimize."

Mastery of the fundamentals is a necessity. Use,"very simple concepts to solve amazingly difficult problems," but be aware that technology can be "very easy to trick." For example, having different factors with different ranges can "befuddle a model:" it may overweight whichever factor has the larger range. There's a reason data scientists spend most of their time cleaning data.

You'll also need to communicate. Early in his career as a prop trader, Robbins said that, "because the management weren't quants, they needed good communication because they didn't understand what I was doing and needed reassurance." This skill is appreciated all the way to the top, including by Citadel CEO Ken Griffin.

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AUTHORAlex McMurray Editor

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