Reiman graduate students and faculty show the way
Masters of Science in Applied Quantitative Finance (MSAQF) student Garrett Howhannesian majored in math and added a concentration in finance as an undergraduate at the University of Denver. Howhannesian (BA 2020) says his background in math has given him a boost.
“Math, especially at the theory level, involves problem solving, using logic, and developing proofs,” Howhannesian said. “These skills have been very useful to have for my graduate work in finance.”
Marissa Lambert (BA 2017, MS 2019) also studied math with a finance concentration at DU. After graduating, she wanted to pursue a job where she could use math every day.
“I learned about actuarial science shortly after graduating and decided to pursue that career path,” Lambert said. “To gain designation as an actuary, you must pass a variety of exams ranging from math to finance. Thus, to set myself apart from other actuarial candidates and learn more about finance, I went back to DU for the MSAQF.”
Lambert completed her master’s degree in 2019, and currently works as an actuarial associate at Empower Retirement. She, too, believes that her undergraduate degree prepared her for work in finance.
“While many people struggle with the math side of finance, proofs and other concepts helped me understand finance in a mathematical way,” she said. “Professionally, the problem-solving skills from my math background are incredibly helpful. Every project is a problem that needs solving and I am able to understand how our models are calculated.”
Several Reiman School of Finance faculty members took a similar path, finding that math studies helped with their graduate coursework and careers as well.
“So much mathematics is involved in economics and finance,” said Irina Khindanova, teaching associate professor. “For example, maximizing profits is an optimization problem and evaluating investment portfolio risk involves estimating probabilities of losses.”
Sorenson Distinguished Professor of Finance Mac Clouse was drawn to study finance because of its real-world applications of mathematical theory. “A strong mathematical background is necessary for advanced graduate finance classes,” Clouse said. “It is also necessary for the research that is done in finance. Statistical analysis is a big part of empirical financial research.”
According to Reiman faculty, mathematical skill can also open many doors in the professional world of finance.
“Many of the most rewarding and interesting jobs in finance require creating sophisticated spreadsheet models, coding investments problems in a programming language, and understanding relationships between economic variables that are governed by systems of equations,” said Andrew Detzel, associate professor of finance.
“These job requirements create an inherent obstacle for people who are not quantitatively inclined, but many opportunities for those who are,” said Detzel. “Given the breadth of applications within finance, there are many interesting and lucrative career opportunities for mathematically inclined finance experts.”
Leveraging the math to finance pathway also involves broadening professional networks.
“Take advantage of networking opportunities to talk to the finance professionals that we bring into all of our engagement events,” suggests Clouse. “We can also advise math majors regarding finance and its opportunities, and then we can introduce students to our alums who are always willing to help.”
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