At WorldQuant, we’ve long debated the question of quality versus quantity when it comes to alphas — the mathematical, predictive models for the theoretical performance of financial instruments, and the heart of our alpha factory. “Quantity is quality,” Founder, Chairman and CEO Igor Tulchinsky likes to say.
In September, both quantity and quality were on display in Singapore at the 2018 International Quant Championship Finals, hosted by WorldQuant’s Virtual Research Center (VRC). The two-day event was the culmination of a six-month, three-stage alpha-building competition that attracted 11,000 participants representing more than 1,000 universities in 80-plus countries. “The IQC is the largest quant finance competition in the world,” VRC General Manager Nitish Maini said in his opening remarks, as the 47 finalists, seated in teams at tables decorated with the flags of their respective countries, waited anxiously for their final assignment. The 15 teams at the IQC Finals had spent months building alphas; that afternoon, they would have just three hours to try to create the most effective combination of those alphas. The teams would be scored on both the performance of their alpha combinations and the quality of their presentations the following day to explain what they had done.
The eight WorldQuant judges, who included President and COO Michael DeAddio, Chief Investment Officer Geoffrey Lauprete and Chief Research Officer Chalee Asavathiratham, were impressed by the professionalism of all the teams and the novelty of their ideas. “It continues to surprise me how around the world there are these great talents at very young ages who can participate in something like this at such a high level,” says DeAddio.
The finalists didn’t have to wait long for the results of the competition. The winners were revealed during a gala dinner and awards ceremony held at the S.E.A. Aquarium on Singapore’s Sentosa Island. The all-women team of Mrs. MIPT, representing the Moscow Institute of Physics and Technology, took the title of International Quant Champion home to France, where they were living, edging out teams from China, Vietnam and the U.K. “It’s the best feeling in my life,” exclaimed Mrs. MIPT’s Elena Tverdokhlevova, who grew up wanting to be an actress. “It’s not an Oscar; it’s even better.” (Impressively, seven of the 11 people on the top four teams were women.)
Participants in the 2018 International Quant Championship enjoyed more than just awards and trophies. More than 400 have gone on to become research consultants with the VRC, with the opportunity to earn compensation based on their productivity and the performance of their alphas. Among the IQC finalists, 16 were offered internships and five were offered full-time positions with WorldQuant.
The 2019 International Quant Championship is expected to be even bigger than last year’s inaugural event. The competition will again take place in three stages, running from March through September, culminating in multiday live finals in Singapore. As a bonus, members of the teams that make it to Singapore may get the opportunity to test their analytic skills in a simultaneous chess exhibition against World Champion Magnus Carlsen during the finals.