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Strath007’s experience at the international quant championship

From left: Wayne Matengo, Ida Mwango, Millicent Menya, Ken Muturi, Eric Ng'ang'a.

The day was finally here, when we aspiring quants were to leave the country to represent a whole continent in the International Quant Championship global finals. You must be asking yourself what is a quant? A quant is an expert who design’s complex mathematical models for use in securities trading. This term is commonly associated with finances, economics and risk management.

Our arrival at the International Quant Scholarship in Singapore, was welcomed by hot humid air. Of course we had anticipated the heat, but for some reason we didn’t consider how humid it would be. No complaints though because back home it was freezing. I must add that we felt very proud of ourselves for having made it that far and humbled at the same time because it’s not every day that this happens. This spotlight, however had its own weight for with great honour comes great responsibility. We had to live up to everyone’s high expectations.

City tour

On our first evening we went for a cable car ride and it was amazing to see the whole city from an aerial point of view. After our ride, we went for a tour around Sentosa, a place known for its fun and it was amazing how alive and safe the city was at night. In the midst of our night tour we decided to look for a place to eat. We had received some gift vouchers from World Quant and had hoped to use them for dining, but unfortunately we were not properly dressed for our restaurant of choice. None the less we settled for good old McDonalds which never disappoints with their supper large burgers, neatly chopped fries and smooth milkshakes.

The competition

The World Quant competitions were a culmination of a six-month journey that began in March with eleven thousand participants, from eighty-one countries spanning five continents. The teams went through various challenges which required hard-work, commitment and determination. Team Strath007 manoeuvred their way through to the global finals representing the African continent.

The participants were required to generate robust alphas which are quantitative predictive models of the performance of financial instruments. Alphas are important for predictive purposes, to reduce human error as well as for trading purposes.

At the beginning of the competition, we were given a task to combine alphas and use the knowledge we acquired during the six months. We were then to do a final presentation on the next day covering the thought process in alpha creation as well as our rationale for the alpha-combo.

The competition was rigorous and Mrs MIPT, the all-female team from France, triumphed as the winners with the team from China coming second. The third position was a tie between the U.K and Vietnam teams.

We had a gala dinner to wind up the 2018 championship and, yes, it was a pleasure to wine and dine with the Usain Bolts of the quant world. Team Strath007 was quite honoured to share a table with the one and only CEO of World Quant, Igor Tulchinsky. It was quite an eye-opening experience having intellectual as well as general knowledge conversations with those you look up to.

Influence on career choice

After it was all wrapped up we had a discussion on our experience. It was clear that not only had all of us broadened our world view, but also most of us would consider a career in quantitative finance. Moreover, given another chance, we would not mind repeating the experience.

To see more on what actuarial students are involved in at the University follow the links below.



This article was written by Millicent Menya.

If you have a story, kindly email: communications@strathmore.edu