Group Dynamics

When researchers and academicians move to quantitative finance, they have to grapple with some culture shock. Not only does the field of finance operate at a faster pace, it also puts great emphasis on team work. It cuts wide rather than deep. Quick results that have immediate and widespread impact are better than perfect and elegant solutions that may take time to forge. We want it done quick rather than right. Academicians are just the opposite. They want to take years to mull over deep problems, often single-handedly, and come up with solutions elegant and perfect.

Coupled with this perfectionism, there is a curious tendency among academic researchers toward creating awowfactor with their results, as opposed to finance professionals who are quite content with thewowfactor in their bonuses. This subtle mismatch generates interesting manifestations. Academics who make the mid-career switch to finance tend to work either alone or in small groups, trying to perfect an impressive prototype. Banking professionals, on the other hand, try to leverage on each other (at times taking credit for other people’s work) and roll out potentially incomplete solutions as early as possible. The intellectual need for awowmay be a factor holding back at least some quant deliverables.

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