5 Ways From Quants Who Want to Change Systems

A growing number of quants want to change the underlying systems that keep risk managers awake at night.

This post has been inspired by this article of FastCompany and I recall the insights we get from quants that want to change their systems radically. We speak to them in feed back workshops, UnRisk Academy courses, workouts, co-creation projects, ...

What can make quant work more systemic?

It's more strategic than operational (as outlined in an antifragile system concept)

1.  Analyze the system you want to change - but not too much

If you dive into the current system too much and understand every detail, you tend to optimize instead of changing it. You don't need to be a passive recipient of a history.

2. Prototype and experiment - expect to be wrong

You gain insight with trial and error - tinkering is not a bad idea if you want to make something new, but radical experimentation and tinkering are not necessarily twins.

3. Organize a feed back cycle  - and learn

Changing is hard work, but if you do not present its interim results you will be unlikely successful. Presenting also helps you to understand what you did.

4. Don't do it alone - cooperate. cooperate. cooperate.

If you want to change, you need connections and alliances. This goes far beyond the agile development and reflection cycles.

5. Make it resilient - to recover quickly from difficulties

You want to do the difficult work and master all complexity. This may let you forget that there are traps, side effects, external influences, unintended consequences …

On the development side there are a few approaches that help:
  • develop the bottom up fashion and use a symbolic declarative language - that drives evolutionary prototyping and explorative, constructive learning 
  • for resilience organize financial objets, models and methods orthogonally and build engines that implement your languages 
  • with computable documents you can make convincing presentations
  • provide a framework for financial data and a universal deployment system.
It is our strongest business principles to help quants leverage their change processes.

Remark: If your idea is so agreeable that everybody is going to support it immediately, it's not going to change ….