Wall Street and Other Financial Institutions Spending Big Bucks Teaching New College Graduates How to Use Spreadsheets–Is
Posted May 30 2013 11:23pm
I had to somewhat laugh when I read this as 15 years ago even before I learned a stick of code I was working in an outside sales job for a Fortune 500 company and my sales manager literally thought I was terrorizing him with my Excel Spreadsheet expense accounts:) This was long before there was speech recognition and I used to embed little sound byte files in the corner of the cells to explain any big expenditures, was easier that way to just record a complete explanation instead of typing all of it. Due to fear I had to stop and type a of it as they were somewhat afraid of voice sound byte files (grin).
I also used to use simple macros to pop in some small Visual Basic modules, which you can still do today so when I read this about the college graduates I did have to chuckle a little bit and especially when I saw the dollar amounts being spent:) A couple days ago I did a post about SaaS software that allows anyone who knows how to use a spreadsheet to become a “modeler”. I can’t help but think this is where some of this is going so banks and insurance companies can have armies of “mini modelers” all over the place. Here’s the post at the link below so you can catch up. All you need to be able to do is “dump in a spreadsheet” and you too can be a modeler and even sell your model on the site. It does require data if I am reading it correctly so it can be verified if you are going to market and make money from machine learning technologies that is made available to you.
If you look at all the job openings for insurers, this is what you find today, analytics and data miners wanted so they are right in here too with the banks. Ok now talk to any professional modeler, a Quant, and see how many times it takes them to get it right…bingo…now the machine learning technologies are going to make you winners every time…don’t think so. Again when you look at the marketing of some of this you do have to laugh. This is why half of the analytics that come out are going to be useless. Learning is great and when models are created this can be a good education experience but wait until the banks and insurers demand perfection and ways to lower risk. Will the machine learning help the employees then? It all depends on what is programmed in…it’s like this picture I have here called “The Algo Fairy”.
Now let’s talk about those who want to be professional modelers and I urge you to watch this video here and listen to the guy who’s paying over 60k in New York to become one…yes the money is good but the nerds don’t get to make the big decisions or get the real big money, they end up being grunts at times while the CEOs and front offices rake in the money. Remember Jamie Dimon when he was asked about their models …”I don’t know” was the most quoted answer:)
Anyway, I see this as a focus here with spending the big bucks to train new employees so they can dump those spreadsheets into these new SaaS web programs and become “mini modelers” with no boundaries. Granted there will be some use here, especially with small data mining and analytics but in no way will this solve huge complex algorithmic issues of banks and insurance companies. One thing that I do question though is the integrity of being a fully qualified Quant with a lot of responsibility and then seeing the mini modeler as a comparison? Who will be accountable here when models are made just for making money and no concern for how it plays out to the end consumer, anyone? Will the fact that the automated models can be sold have an impact? We will just have to wait and see.
Analytics help make us smart and make better educated decisions but again will the wholesale marketing of this process, relying on machine generated technologies really pay off….or will our entire business intelligence process end up like the stock market to where algos run wild and flash crashes appear? It will be interesting. Off the cuff here, an old post of mine from 2010 that I think has reached it’s fruition and with a few more flash crashes, well…BD
Newly minted university graduates who have landed coveted jobs on Wall Street may have impressive résumés and sought-after references. But often, nuts-and-bolts skills like spreadsheet building and database extraction are not part of university curriculums.
When millions of dollars can be won or lost on one calculation, firms are finding it essential that their new hires can tell the difference between a pivot table and a header row.
Enter specialized boot camps where — for fees that sometimes exceed $1,000 a day — would-be masters of the universe can perfect Excel modeling techniques and financial analysis. Each year, tens of thousands of students at the nation’s top business schools, and scores of new hires at financial firms, including Goldman Sachs and the Blackstone Group , now take courses run by companies like Training the Street and Wall Street Prep.
Nineteen of the country’s top 20 business schools now use Training the Street to teach an estimated 20,000 business majors every year in how to interpret financial statements, value corporations and run spreadsheet analyses.
As boot camp training becomes more common, a saturation effect could occur. If everyone is taking classes like Excel Best Practices and Restructuring Modeling, doing so may not make one candidate stand out in job interviews.