Wednesday, 22 August 2007

Fast learner

I find myself to be able to pick things up relatively fast. I guess it's more of being passionate and putting in the effort. A MD asked us to think through if this is where we want to be, where stress levels are high and getting the sack can be purely random. Yes he said fired for no good reason - just because "you're at the wrong place at the wrong time".

Anyway, I think I've found what I really want to do. Research. It's ideal to be "outside" the scene looking in, where you can have a more macro picture of how pieces come together, to independently analyse and critique. I would like a role which involves more analysis work and devising strategies, rather than being a pure quant who only build models and codes them for other users. But I guess as a start, it would be more model-building/coding than writing research pieces.

Everyone is saying the job market for quants and credit-related businesses are suffering, and from what I heard, at least it seems true in the firm. Heard from a fellow intern that credit teams in the markets group are not hiring, so if you're an intern there, just blame it on your luck. As for quants...I'll know soon. If I don't have an offer, I'll probably go back to Asia. Still deciding on that one.

Recently, I've been so immersed in my work that I "forget" to eat. I find myself to be enjoying the challenge, to think hard about a problem. It's different from school when you could somehow get the correct answer. So I've been staying in the office for 14 hours. I may be quick in picking up things that have been done and proven, but perhaps lack the creative juices in solving novel problems.

And oh yeah, WM will be here tomorrow and will be staying for 2 weeks!

Friday, 17 August 2007

Week 8

Incredible week. If you're been following the markets you will know why. Central banks pumped liquidity into the markets to help prevent a downward spiral, but it's anybody's guess if that was the right move. Markets recovered temporarily but as expected it slumped a couple of days later. And a surprise move by the Fed to cut rates led to a rally and a brief breather for the weekend, but next week could see another dramatic unfolding of events.

2 weeks left. With the volatile markets, I guess noone would be willing to add headcount now. We're all rather disheartened by the fact that we'll very likely end the summer jobless. Spoken to quite a few senior managers this week, and everyone asked me to apply to other firms, any firms. They can't guarantee any openings. Not a bad time to go back to school, but where's the money?

I'm working in structured finance now, yeah, the best time to be in this place. Still trying to come to grips with the many variations of SF - ABS, MBS, CMBS, RMBS, CDO, CLO, CBO, CMO, ABCDS, CDO CDS, CDO^2, CPPI, CPDO, ...

Hired a tuxedo which cost me a bomb, even after a 25% student discount. Almost wanted to buy a full set but I don't see myself wearing it again anytime soon.

Feeling rather unsettled now, what will be the outcome come end Aug?

My best friend will be coming over next week, but I'll probably be busy :(

Sunday, 12 August 2007

Hot pot

I've been hearing stories about job cuts in Europe, starting from ABN AMRO to Bear Stearns and recently GS. Yes volatility swings are kicking in, credit spreads are widening but I personally don't think banks are on a hiring freeze. Apparently, job vacancies are aplenty though people have argued there aren't any, those posted on several websites are just hoaxes.

Back in Asia, it seems that many friends are switching jobs, and jobseekers are quick to secure offers. Market seems pretty hot right now, pay looks good, so I don't think markets are expected to see a sharp downturn.

Commodities seem to be the hottest asset class this year.

Friday, 10 August 2007

Week 7

Short hours last week, long hours this week. Well, I had to get pick up Delphi and get my codes working, so...
Well I didn't quite finish everything as I had hoped, but managed to get a significant part of it done.

I'll be moving to another desk on Monday, and had my presentation today. Somehow I got quite nervous this time round, I mean, everyone is bound to have some kind of anxiety when it comes to formal presentations, especially with directors assessing your performance. But I'm normally quite calm, at least I'll somehow manage to put up a relaxed front. Today I kinda stumbled on my words and was perhaps caught out in some pronunciations (c'mon I'm not a native speaker). But I could answer the questions and everyone told me I did well. Two directors told me, "well done", so I guess I have to take that as a positive sign. Or rather intepret it as, "well screwed yourself". To be honest, I could have been much better in my explanation if I wasn't feeling so uncomfortable (yeah everyone says that ex-post).

Things are getting more competitive now, though we're (quant interns) still a pretty close group. We've been actively speculating on the number of vacancies and frankly I don't think everyone will be offered a job. Some desks have recently hired full-time analysts, though there could be vacancies in other offices. Spoke to my manager and he mentioned he could put me in touch with the HK office if I'm interested...probably that implies he's not taking me. But yeah HK wouldn't be a bad place to start with. And there's another director who visited us from NY, apparently he's looking to add a team member. Things are sort of hazy at the moment, not really sure what's gonna happen. But I guess at the end of it, even without a full-time job, I can look back and see how much I've learnt. I guess I'm already quite fortunate...there are tons of people outside looking in, hoping to get a taste of quant work.

Anyway, this week has been excellent. Met up with some friends, and had a cook-out last weekend actually. Probably gonna just chill out in the sun this weekend before starting on my last rotation. It's been quite an interesting summer.

Friday, 3 August 2007

Week 6

I don't know if it's just me...but time passes really quickly...and I mean real quick! Haven't really accomplished much in this rotation...spent quite a lot of time thinking about how I should model a certain feature of a traded instrument. Literally spending days sitting at my desk thinking. Well, at least I've talked to everyone on the team, and the head of the team actually spent an hour sharing his view and thoughts on the market with me.

When I attended IB presentations in 3Q last year, every bank said the same thing - they have a great working culture, people are willing to help, no cut-throat competition internally, etc. Of course I thought it was all bullshit, but for 6 weeks now, I have to say I haven't had any unpleasant experiences with the people there. Everyone seems genuinely helpful and happy with their work. Getting decent pay helps I suppose.

Had dinner with a friend who's interning with another IB just across the street. Haven't met up with anyone else from LSE since I started the internship. And btw, the Finance & Accounting dept at LSE have split up, so now there's officially an exclusive Finance dept.

Hmm, so what else happend in the week? The equity markets picked up a bit and then ended the week crashing again, the BoE did not raise interest rates as expected...and I left before 7pm everyday this week!

Wednesday, 1 August 2007

Ratings business

A lot of focus is placed on companies' credit ratings, and I wonder how much the relationship of a company and its assessor has on its final rating. I have a friend who worked in Moody's and lamented that they were quickly losing market share due to their less liberal view of credit scores in comparison to S&P. And it's a bit worrying to think of how things will change if the ratings model is flawed, but I guess we can't really tell. Changes in ratings will affect the company's stock price, corporate bonds, convertibles issued, etc...but to what extent?