Read any compilation of the 50 top performing hedge fund managers and the absence of females on the list is glaring. Women are unquestionably active in the hedge fund industry. However, a woman has yet to be named to the top 50 … at least thus far.

Few professions come to mind that sport a similar “zero” percentage of top ranking female performers. NFL starting quarterbacks spring to mind but, the reasons for that are easier to grasp.

This inspired further research and resulted in the discovery of organization called 100 Women in Hedge Funds which was founded in late 2001. Boasting a membership of 13,000 women representing 2,800 hedge funds, the very existence of this organization demonstrates that women enjoy a substantial presence in the hedge fund industry.

With an estimated 11,000 hedge funds operating around the globe, these numbers imply that only one-quarter of hedge fund firms employ women who have a 100 Women in Hedge Funds affiliation. Of course it would be unfair to assume that all women working in the hedge fund industry are members, but it is, at the very least, an indication that women may be under-represented.

Where Is This Going?

If you are a woman interested in pursuing a career in hedge funds, it might appear that the odds are stacked against you. While this may or may not be true, there is a contrarian view. It is entirely possible that as an under-represented woman, one’s opportunities are actually enhanced.

There certainly are many women in the hedge fund industry that have distinguished themselves. For example, Leda Braga, 48, manages Systematica Investments, based in Geneva, Switzerland. With about $8.2 billion in assets under management, she is undoubtedly one of the most powerful female hedge fund managers on the planet.

Jane Buchan, the Managing Director, CEO and co-founder of PAAMCO, has also enjoyed stunning success in the hedge fund industry. Incidentally, this past March, Jane Buchan was named the 2014 recipient of the North American Industry Leadership Award, presented by the 100 Women in Hedge Funds organization.

There are countless examples of women in the hedge fund industry who have enjoyed tremendous success, earned the admiration of peers and succeeded in a male-dominated arena. A woman with aspirations to work in the hedge fund industry should not be held back by false perceptions and preconceived notions.

The Jobs Outlook

Because women are under-represented, they may actually have an advantage in securing a hedge fund job. If you are female, consider a membership in 100 Women in Hedge Funds. All the research suggests it is an excellent organization, offering education and networking opportunities to its members.

Given the importance of networking as a means of securing interview opportunities, it follows that membership with an organization like 100 Women in Hedge Funds may be worth pursuing.

Leda Braga and Jane Buchan represent the possibilities hedge funds offer to women. As a woman, you have every reason to be optimistic about a future in the hedge fund industry and no reason to buy into the notion that hedge funds are not for females.

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Not everyone is suited to the hedge fund industry. The intense competitiveness, high risk, and a secretive culture combine to create a work environment in which only persons with certain personality traits can survive and thrive. Generally speaking, hedge fund jobs fall into one of these three broad categories:

1) Analysts

In many respects, analysts are the beating heart of a hedge fund. They have well-developed skills in following the stock and bond markets. They must be adept in spotting the direction of the market as a whole or the trend for individual securities.

Analysts are responsible for conducting the exhaustive research and thorough investigation necessary to render an investment decision. They perform a critical supporting role to senior analysts and portfolio managers to build investments into the funds’ portfolios.

2) Portfolio Managers

The portfolio manager wears a number of hats, chief among them is shouldering the responsiblity for exceeding the clients’ expectations for return on investment.

Additionally responsibilities include but, are not limited to:

  • Implementing new financial products and strategies
  • Collaborating with analysts to ensure that trading strategies are properly executed
  • Networking with clients and potential investors to grow assets under management
  • Reviewing the fund’s performance reports
  • Keeping abreast of industry policies and regulations as set forth by the SEC

3) Administrators

Administrative roles, although vital, are “behind the scenes”. These are largely back office functions, focused on client relations, accounting, reporting and other related issues. Administrative functions are being increasingly outsourced, in part or in total, by many hedge fund firms.

Four “Must Have” Traits/Skills

A.)   Networking skills are critical to landing an interview with a hedge fund. Developing contacts with the ability to open the door a crack by identifying hiring managers is crucial. Successfully networking at your current job or internship will allow you to meet people who can further your career goals.

B.)  Problem solving skills are a high priority asset for the successful candidate. So much so, that many managers will actually give an interviewee a case study to review and resolve as part of the interview process. The interview process with a hedge fund is more extensive than one might imagine. Interviewers are looking for individuals who can spot and resolve problems.

C.)  Previous experience, especially in reviewing mountains of data and drawing accurate conclusions from it is important. In short, analytical ability and experience. This ability can be demonstrated in fields of endeavor other than hedge funds.

D.)   Initiative is a key trait coupled with a large dose of tenacity. In short, always proceed with an eye to exceeding expectations.

About Hedge Fund Jobs

Getting a foot in the door for a hedge fund job is not easy. The competition is nothing if not stiff. The prepared candidate is the successful candidate and, what has been discussed here is only a primer. Developing sound networking skills, doing focused internships and having some investment experience on your resume will provide you with the best opportunity for a positive outcome.

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