Ive been asked in recent months why i have not been writing anymore. The answer to that lies in the horror stories i hear about people getting kicked out of their jobs for posting their veiws publicly. Now this would be the worst of times to be a maverick and test that theory on myself ! So i will take the safe path and abstain. The least i can do though is to make this a smooth transition to oblivion.
I think a fitting end would be for me to give my final thoughts on the Financial Mathematics program at Stanford University and the experiences i had in California.
Academics: I would call the following courses a must do at Stanford.
STAT206 – Applied Multivariate Analysis – Try and take this as early as possible, especially if you are rusty in your linear algebra. It will brush up the basics and prepare you for the sometimes otherwise obscure statistics to follow.
MS&E345 – Advanced topics in Financial Engineering – I absolutely loved this course as this teaches derivative (both equity and fixed income) pricing in as structured a way as possible. I dont think many, if any, will argue with this.
MATH238 – Financial Mathematics – Although not as refined as MSE345, this course will teach you a lot more than basic options theory and will delve into stochastic control as well.
MATH227 – Partial Differential Equations and diffusion processes – For me, this was the best taught class at stanford. Ive heard that the Professor Nolen is leaving Stanford and that would mean a big loss to students, for he really is a stupendous teacher. This course and his teaching makes light of the fears that many people have of PDE’s.
MS&E247s – International Investments – I liked this course as it was all about macroeconomics. I really like the field and it was my main motivation for getting into finance. The best part about it is how it helps me understand how the ‘world works’. ( in some sense!)
Life at Stanford: One has to be a student here to realize how fortunate one is. Its such a fantastic place to live and study that it does seem unreal at times. Ive often been asked how i ever got any studying done in a place like that. Theres just so much going on and so much to see and do that it does get a bit distracting at times.
The Professors are really approachable and inspite of being amongst the best in the world, have a lot of time for you as a student. The staff is incredibly helpful and Amy Duncan in the Statistics dept always seems to have all the answers.
I would advise people to buy a car though, if they can, as the commute in the bay area is a problem otherwise. At the very least one must get a driving license as soon as possible as then you can rent and drive around. It really would be a shame if one left that place without properly exploring the bay area. I cant claim to have done an excessive amount of travelling but i did not miss out on it completely either.
Advice for future interviewees: Do read the following THOROUGHLY before interviews.
1. Heard on the wall street – Timothy Falcon Crack – Cover to cover. Treat this as a guide for what topics to cover and go back to Hull and read and practise it till you are very comfortable with it.
2. Futures, Options and other Derivatives – John C Hull – Selected
3. The WSJ everyday. Buy the online subscription, its cheap.
Study the GREEKS for all equity focussed and trading interviews. Read Bond math for all Fixed Income interviews. Practise brain teasers. I love them, some people dont, do them regardless.
It was three years back that i wrote my autobiography for a course at IIM. I surprised myself by the enjoyment i derived from that exercise. That and some positive feedback on my work encouraged me to start this blog. Its sad that i cannot continue. Can you blame me (given the perils associated with it)?!
All the best and adios.