Hype or fact: Do fundamental analyst need to learn Python, R, MATLAB, etc.??

I wonder what people’s thoughts are on this. Seems that the use of ML/AI is gaining traction but also that there is hype around it. Nonetheless, in order to manage career risk, I wonder if anyone has taken this seriously as has devoted efforts to learn any coding (Python, R etc.) and visualization software (Tableu). I work for a traditional long only fundamental shop so we don’t use much if any of that.

And then, what is the best way to acquired those skills? After MBA and CFA, I do not know if I can enroll in school again.


In my opinion, programming skills in Python, SQL and Tableau are more than enough to complement your fundamental analyst skills. What were you thinking of using the programming skills for?

My current role is a buy-side equity analyst and I use SQL and Tableau quite a bit. SQL is a base language that I would recommend for anyone starting. I integrate it a lot in Google’s big query tool in their cloud platform. Then tableau obviously for visualization. I built a screening dashboard for my firm using tableau. Basically allows you to filter based on a bunch of standard metrics across multiple markets. Tableau is quite nice as the visual component really makes it easy to perform quick screens.

I learnt everything through course era. I don’t really think there is a need to do a formal course. But then again depends on how technical you want to get - the CQF course is very technical and integrates finance plus the programming side and goes quite deep into ML and AI.

No one cares if you have “learned” Python, R, MATLAB, as in you know the syntax or something. You must have accomplished some function using those languages. “I learned Python” = no meaning. “I made a program that sorted 1000 stocks based on some criteria” = useful.

I work in Front Office tech for a very large asset manager. If I were you, I’d focus on some Python and SQL first. R is a nice to have, but unless you’re doing hardcore stats stuff, Python statistical libraries will suffice for your needs. R is better suited to quants and people doing real applied math stuff.

I agree with Ohai. You bump into people all the time talking about how they learned python or whatever from some online course when it comes up. It means nothing, everybody has printed “hello world” at some point. If you’re going to learn it and gain anything material from it, you need to learn and then find ways to implement it. I think there’s a lot of hype, but I also think that over time, this skill is going to continue to grow. If you have a long career ahead of you, you might as well embrace it. It’s a bit of work at first, but once you get the base in, it’s a lot more fun just doing implementations.

If you learn python thoroughly as a base you can pick up R in a few weeks. I find python more useful and enjoyable, it’s also the more robust language.

Can you work with these languages without high math knowledge?


I would recommend build a little project first and write about the process and the utility of it. This will get you talking points in the interview.

Most programming doesn’t require math. I tell people to learn Pandas before Python. Of course Pandas isn’t really a language, but most people can start off replacing Excel with Pandas and never use a single loop or assert statement. Once you get used to interacting with data via text, then learning how to do the programming stuff comes in handy. I started just replacing Excel with pandas but now I have written custom modules to automate a lot of analysis we do at my employer. Once you start building an infrastructure, it is very cool how easily it scales vs a bunch of spreadsheets.

There are plenty of datasets online you can use for practice. There are stock APIs, you have loan data from LendingClub/Prosper, real estate data from Zillow, and all the competition on Kaggle.

I am confused, are you referring to the Pandas python package (which requires python) or some other Pandas.

Yea the pandas library

I mean, if you can use pandas comfortably in python in my mind you are basically doing python. Ifs,fors, whiles doesn’t take much to learn.

In the L2 Quant reading on big data they gently suggest Python and R. I plan to improve my VBA then Python. In my work I don’t have much use for the heavy statistical stuff. I do a lot of stuff in excel and in my planning software.

I agree of course, but that’s not much different than learning the programing language of excel (not vba, the actual functions in the cells). Actual programming is learning how to break a problem into parts, turn those parts into functions and objects, and perform it in a logical way. To use an Excel comparison, That’s when you get to the point where you are building the excel add ins and functions instead of just relying on others and pre-built things like average ifs

Imo vba would be a waste of time unless that’s the only way you can start using programming. It has a reputation of being one of the least favorite languages

Even for financial modeling? I’m really just building models for personal finance and small and medium businesses. I want to standardize some of the things that go in the financial plan reports for efficiency. I’m not committed to VBA. I’ve been playing around with Python (beginner basics) for years. I never went beyond making Christmas cards for family though. Yes, I literally just play around with Python.