In this episode of the Curious Quant podcast series, I sit down with John Fawcett from Quantopian to discuss the secretive world of quantitative finance and how he has disrupted it to create a community that welcomes novices. Reflecting back on his time at Harvard and his experiences in the hedge fund industry we explore data sets, designing algorithms and the future of investing. He makes some excellent observations.

On starting out:

“For those familiar with the industry, they know how secretive quants and quant firms are, and when I was first learning about the field I was struck by how difficult it was to even meet other professional quants.”

On scaling research:

“No-one had been able to grow past around 200 or 250 researchers, it seemed like there was a natural limit to a quant research group. This seemed strange given that the whole industry hinges on the capacity of that group.”

On feedback:

“What I learned was that quants definitely won’t tell you what they do, but if you show up with something that you’ve built, they will definitely tell you what’s wrong with it.”

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