CERN physicists going to work for Goldman Sachs

Reading based on a news story I read that physicists work for banks and financial houses I did a search and was amazed to find that physicists who at one time had worked at CERN, left CERN and then went to work for Goldman Sachs. What is a particle physicist doing working at Goldman Sachs.

Goldman Sachs hires particle physicist from the Large Hadron Collider

by Sarah Butcher

15 May 2013

particleForget a PhD from Imperial College or the doctoral programme in finance at Wharton – the hottest people in quantitative finance come from the world’s most powerful particle accelerator at CERN in Switzerland. In fact, Goldman Sachs has just hired one of them.

Ryan Buckingham, a particle physicist with a PhD from Oxford University, spent three and a half years at CERN before joining Goldman Sachs in London as an associate in the credit and mortgage structuring team earlier this month. He declined to speak to us and Goldman didn’t return our request for comment, but it seems that the path from CERN to investment banking is a well trodden one.

“CERN is the place to find top PhDs in physical sciences and computing,” said Dominic Connor, head of quantitative finance recruitment firm P&D Quant Recruitment. “Working at CERN is one step up from having any old PhD. There a lot of people who have doctoral degrees, but you know that if someone has worked at CERN they will be very good indeed.”

Buckingham isn’t the only CERN alumni working in finance. Alexey Afonin, a vice president in strats and modelling at Morgan Stanley used to work there too. So did Anne Richards, the chief investment officer at Aberdeen Asset Management. So did Nikolaos Prezas, a quantitative researcher at J.P. Morgan and plenty of others. Most people seem to work at CERN early in their careers, and then move into finance.

We asked CERN whether it has a problem with losing staff to the financial services industry and we didn’t get a response. CERN’s own recruitment website, showing a relaxed man with a goatee beard riding a bicycle through bucolic Swiss countryside, makes you wonder why anyone would ever leave to work in an investment bank. However, one ex-CERN employee turned banker said working on the Large Hadron Collider isn’t as exciting as you might think.

“CERN can be a very interesting place to work with a lot of cultural diversity, but it’s also highly political and very bureaucratic,” said the ex-scientist turned bank technologist, speaking on condition of anonymity. “Basically, you’re a high level international civil servant – a fonctionnaire. And a lot of the jobs are quite boring.”

Full article at efinancial