Igor Tulchinsky founded WorldQuant LLC, an early entrant in the field of quantitative investing, on the principle that brilliance is evenly distributed across the world, but opportunity is not. Mr. Tulchinsky, who got his start on Wall Street with Hungarian-born billionaire Thomas Peterffy, has been successful enough since 2007 to turn his energy to another passion: developing a new approach to higher education based on fusion of finance and technology.
As automation, analytics and data transform financial services, the need for financial engineers with new types of ever-evolving skills increases, according to Tulchinsky. He moved in 2015 to meet this need, founding WorldQuant University, an online educational platform that awards master’s degrees in financial engineering. The tuition-free program, funded by Mr. Tulchinsky, admits new students every seven weeks. He expects the first students to graduate from his two- to three-year program to graduate in February.
“Talent is evenly distributed around the world. The opportunity is not,” Tulchinsky told the CIO Journal. “I wanted to provide a mechanism to bridge that gap.” He created the WorldQuant Foundation to pursue this goal, experimenting with scholarships and massive, open online courses, or MOOCs. Eventually, he decided to start a university.
WorldQuant University was designed to be part of the digital market it serves. It operates online, without the high fixed costs of a physical campus. “We had to do without big budgets and do it in a tight and efficient way for education to be fully scalable,” he said. He wanted the platform to be as simple as a well-built app or website. “You should be able to say, get me a doctorate. in quantitative finance, and the requirements should appear,” he said. Unlike a MOOC, the program has an admissions process, with an essay, references, and credential check.
WorldQuant currently offers 14 courses in a range of areas from Python computer programming language to machine learning, taught by experts such as Banco Santander veteran Dr. Ivan Blanco. The idea is to develop people’s careers in areas such as data science, IT and financial management. The school is led by CEO Daphne Kis, a tech startup veteran and investor who co-founded Litmus Health.
The university says it currently has 890 students from 75 countries and enrollment is increasing by 25% with each cohort. Students are admitted at regular intervals, seven times a year.
Sonam Srivastava, a quantitative analyst at HSBC Global Markets who lives in Bangalore, said she joined WorldQuant in February 2016, attracted by courses that favor people working in finance and can provide insight into achieving above-market returns, known as alpha.
Konstantinos Moraitis, from Athens, also joined the group in February 2016, seeking to build on a master’s degree in finance from the University of St. Andrews and a bachelor’s degree in financial and business economics from the University of Athens. Mr Moraitis said he had worked as a trader for a US-based company and had almost a decade of experience in finance, including trading, financial analysis and analysis risks.
“I was looking for a very advanced and hands-on program that would help me improve my financial engineering and data analysis skills,” Moraitis said. “I see WQU as the ‘stepping stone’ I need to advance my career in algorithmic trading, as well as to pursue more advanced roles in many different areas of the financial industry. “
The financial sector is in the midst of a technology-driven, or fintech, transformation. “I’d say five years from now, if you want to be a CFO, you won’t need to have an MBA,” Tulchinsky said. “There is a lot of explosive growth in the world of exponentially growing data, computing power and knowledge. This explosive increase in information creates a need for a different kind of education.
Fix –– This story has been updated to indicate that WorldQuant University was founded in 2015, not 2016.
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