The SQA played an important role in the birth of quantitative finance by providing a gathering point in New York City for quantitatively-orientated practitioners to exchange ideas. It has provided a forum for interactions between practitioners trying to apply leading research and leading academics creating that research. It has been a place for practitioners to exchange ideas with other competitor practitioners, in circumstances where this is generally not possible. Over its history, its members and speakers have included pioneers in the theory and practice of quantitative finance. Moreover, it has been an organization through which younger analysts can learn, network and gain valuable experience for the careers as quantitative analysts.
The Birth of Quantitative Finance
The SQA began in the mid 1960’s as a committee of the New York Society of Securities Analysts (NYSSA) for members excited about harnessing the newly available tool for analyzing investment data and testing financial theories: the electronic computer. At the time, Modern Portfolio Theory had recently been developed, data had recently become available on magnetic tapes (e.g., Compustat and CRSP) and early quantitative investors were beginning to have access to their firm’s mainframe computers or third party computer time-sharing. This committee met to discuss new financial theories and performance/risk management techniques and to find ways to apply computers to test hypotheses or calculate risk metrics.
In December 1965, the NYSSA newsletter announced:
New Group Authorized: The Board of Directors (of the NYSSA) has authorized the formation of a new group under the Society auspices. This group, to be called the Study Group for the Application of Computers to Investment Research, will be of interest to those working on the application of computers to investment analysis or portfolio management.
The group, which came to be called the Computer Applications Committee of the NYSSA, originally met at the first NYSSA headquarters at 15 Williams Street in downtown Manhattan. Monthly luncheon meetings were also held at members’ firms.
In the late 1970’s, the group separated itself from the NYSSA and altered its name. Over time, it became known as the Computer Application Symposium, followed by the Investment Technology Symposium, then as the Investment Technology Association and finally, by its current name: the Society of Quantitative Analysts.
Celebrating 50 Years
On May 10th, 2016, the SQA held its Fuzzy Day Conference and a gala to celebrate its 50th anniversary. The event brought together 21 past presidents of the SQA and notable speakers, including Andrew Lo, Steven Kaplan, and Bryan Kelly.
Honoring 50 Years of SQA Past Presidents
From the Computer Applications Committee of the New York Society of Security Analysts
…to the Investment Technology Symposium,
…to Investment Technology Association,
…to the Society of Quantitative Analysts,
celebrating a half century of bringing together theory, technology and practice.