It’s been a really busy time for us at ipub with all the staffing quant finance projects that we have had, like for example this one. R job here, Python there. For example, in the last year alone, we contributed to 6 projects in the quant finance area. In addition, we have two skilled R contractors working as quants with major financial institutions.
And while the whole concept of R experts seems to be a long shot to stardom, specialized job boards like r-users seem to suggest that R is gaining more importance in the job market every year, and moving more and more from academia to the private sector. A fact that can be enforced by the data science trend in the economy, where R seems to have a fairly good stake in relation to R jobs. Microsoft’s backing, for instance, is helping R to gain credibility, even with IT departments.
Shiny as a Differentiator
Another trend I have been observing is the impact of Shiny: rapid prototyping with R suddenly is very attractive, and accessible to non-web programmers.
R Jobs: The Strong Side
Having actively engaged in recruiting R specialists for a number of years, now I can say that I have come to the following conclusions:
- R is often used in smaller companies
- R is widely used in pharma
- R is used for risk management and financial modeling groups in banks, i.e. wherever IT departments have no reach
- It is safe to say that R is replacing Matlab in some front units
R Jobs: The Weak Side
On the flipside, however, it is also true to say that:
- For larger hedge funds, you will find Python being more widely used as opposed to R
- For quantitative groups in systematic trading (investment banks, top hedge funds, etc.), Python is often preferred because that space is crowded with physics PhDs for whom Python happens to be king in
- Whenever optimizers are used, R falls short because it simply cannot keep up with Python
As a side note: Though everybody speaks highly of Julia, there has not been a single requisition mentioning Julia. R jobs win this battle by far.
However, most job descriptions neither qualify purely as R jobs or as Python jobs. Often, financial institutions expect from candidates skills in both languages, and more.
In conclusion, I highly recommend that you lay off the strictness when it comes to technology. All you really need is the best tool for the job. Nonetheless, it is okay to have and to know your opinions because it will help you avoid switching programming languages every single passing day.
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