As demand for quants goes through the roof, it seems demand for quant developers is hitting the ceiling.
While quants build the mathematical models required to price complex derivatives products, quant developers build the computer programs required to bring the models to life. It's complicated work, and it's rather well paid.
A good quant, with a technical skillset focused on C++ and spreadsheet delivery, and an understanding of instruments such as swaps and caps, can command six-figure salaries plus attractive bonuses. But the biggest problem facing most recruiters and their bank clients is finding them.
"Recently, there has been more demand for quant people, particularly development people," says Rick Jansz, managing consultant, IT and financial markets, for BSI People. "But they are really hard to find because you're talking about highly educated people with PhDs. The problem is that even though there may be a demand for these people, there are really not that many around."
Oliver Darkes, senior consultant at Carmichael Fisher, has recruited quant executives and developers recently for major banks including National Australia Bank (NAB).
Darkes recently placed NAB's global head of quant, hired from the UK, who heads a specialised team of about nine in Sydney. The search led him to Singapore, Hong Kong, London and the US.
"Each bank has its own group of quants, whether it's in market risk or within financial markets themselves, and most trading desks are supported by a quant developer - somebody who writes models for them and is fairly switched on from a programming perspective," says Darkes.
"There is big and growing demand in the area, especially on the market risk side of things," he adds.