Hedge fund detractors, never weary of bashing the hedge fund industry, will see 2015 shaping up to be a substantial source of frustration. Why? Because hedge funds are a galaxy away from being down and out.

The number of hedge funds has grown from a post financial crisis low of 6,845 in 2009 to a total of 8,377 at year-end 2014, roughly a 22 percent increase over the past 5 years.

This is a remarkable revelation in light of articles such as this one in Business Insider, which decidedly failed to take into account the number of hedge funds that opened their doors in 2014, preferring instead to report on just one side of the balance sheet, an oversight which Alpha Calling addressed promptly.

Other financial reporters predicted CalPERS highly publicized decision to withdraw from hedge fund investments signaled the decline, if not quite the demise, of the hedge fund industry, citing high management fees and questionable performance as CalPERS basis for choosing to redeem.

However, on the heels of the CalPERS announcement, CalSTRS (California State Teacher’s Retirement System), made an equally public announcement affirming its intention to remain invested with hedge funds, a sentiment later echoed by many other public pension funds across the country. This positive news failed to gain the same level of attention given the CalPERS decision.

This May Be the Best Year in a Decade

Those seeking a career in the hedge fund industry may be entering the strongest hedge fund job market seen in a decade … and here are some of the reasons behind it.

1) The diversity of hedge fund strategies has broadened the field of talent and expertise needed to execute them. The range of hedge fund strategies, which include appraisal arbitrage, litigation finance, mergers, acquisitions and spin-offs, to name a few, requires individuals with knowledge and proficiency in areas previously under-explored by hedge funds.

2) Market uncertainty is reaching epidemic proportions, driving huge numbers of apprehensive investors into what is widely viewed as the relative safety of hedge funds.

3) Increasing numbers of hedge funds will be testing the retail frontier opened-up by the repeal of the general solicitation ban.

4) Large hedge funds with appropriate resources will expand into liquid alternative funds in an effort to tap into the multi-trillion dollar mutual fund market.

Don’t Allow a Flood of Negativity Drown Your Dreams

The media seems to have an axe to grind with hedge funds. While the reasons for this may not be entirely understood, evidence of it is no further away than the search button on your browser. If you aspire to work in the hedge fund industry, this flood of negativity can be daunting.

However, careful analysis and a little research reveal that the hedge funds are not only alive and well, but are enjoying something of a renaissance. In fact, 2015 may be the best year in a decade to pursue a career in hedge funds. Landing jobs in this field has never been a “cake-walk” but if you have the desire and skills to match emerging innovative strategies, 2015 could be the year your dream of a hedge fund job is finally realized.

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By now, everyone has heard something of the theft allegations the SEC has leveled against New York hedge fund manager Moazzam “Mark” Malik. This thirty-three year-old is alleged to have stolen about $850,000 from 16 investors, foreign and domestic, beginning in 2011.

New York’s Attorney General Eric Schneiderman has filed criminal charges against Mr. Malik, alleging the theft of one-quarter million dollars from five investors. Reports fail to clarify if these are five additional investors or a subset of those referenced in the SEC’s complaint.

Malik’s Qualifications

Mark Malik’s credentials consist of a stint as a former New York Police Department traffic agent, waiter, and security guard. According to Malik’s LinkedIn profile, he has managed Wolf Hedge Global since January 2009. Prior to his noteworthy accomplishment of becoming a hedge fund manager in his mid-twenties, his LinkedIn profile reflects a 4 month job with Merrill Lynch as a research associate between March and June of 2009 and as an investment advisor for JP Morgan Chase & Co. from December 2008 to March 2009 after stepping down from the portfolio manager position he held with John Thomas Financial for one year.

John Thomas Financial’s founder, Thomas Belesis, enjoyed no small amount of notoriety and, if Mr. Malik was indeed employed with Belisis’ firm, one can’t help wondering what he learned while in its employ.

How Does this Happen?

In the Internet age it is relatively inexpensive to construct a slick web site, create a social media persona, and spin yarns that few take time to vet. Hindsight is 20/20 but that said, anyone examining Mr. Malik’s LinkedIn profile should have occasioned a number of red flags brought about by several overt inconsistencies.

The fact that BarclayHedge recognized Malik’s fund with a Best Performance Award in June, 2011 (per his LinkedIn profile) and that Bloomberg once referred to him as a “rising star” almost excuses his victims from further criticism—but not quite.  No one should invest with a hedge fund firm until reasonable due diligence has been performed.

While there is no evidence that Bloomberg or BarclayHedge were among Malik’s alleged victims, monetarily speaking, both have lost a measure of credibility with investors and the financial community.

It is also possible that the SEC, with its high profile targeting of hedge fund firms, has given investors an inflated sense of safety. Naturally, the impression any reasonable person would have after reading the near daily parade of press regarding SEC actions against this hedge fund or SEC investigations of that trader, is that the regulators are on top of this industry. However, a hedge fund must have at least $25 million in assets under management  before it is required to register with the SEC.

What Bearing Does This Have on Jobs?

Primarily this … the pursuit of employment opportunities in the hedge fund industry must include a vetting of the firm and its principal(s). There is no upside to securing a position with a firm that operates outside the bounds of the law and common decency. If one’s name becomes associated with the likes of Wolf Hedge Global, for example, the career path is likely to suffer.

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Women May Enjoy Enhanced Job Opportunities in Hedge Funds

February 23, 2015

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 […]

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Have You Got the “Right Stuff” for a Hedge Fund Job?

February 9, 2015

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 […]

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Do Hedge Funds Need to Outperform the Market?

January 26, 2015

Hedge funds, and those who manage them, have been under relentless media attack for the past 5 years for failing to outperform the market. But, outperforming the market may not be the principal objective institutional investors and high net worth individuals (HNW) expect from an investment in hedge funds. If That Were True Alternative investing […]

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What Keeps Hedge Fund Managers Up At Night

January 12, 2015

Hedge fund managers confront countless economic variables as they pursue twin goals of preserving and growing capital. Of these sundry economic variables, two of the top ten keeping them up at night are undoubtedly declining oil prices and the Asian/European economic slowdown. Shrinking Oil Prices As oil prices continue to tumble, the impact on the […]

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Hedge Fund Closures Approach Record Rates But There Is a Silver Lining

December 29, 2014

Pundits are quick to pounce on the near record numbers of hedge fund firms that have folded their tents in 2014. However, it is necessary to consider the alternate side of the balance sheet. New hedge fund firms are cropping up at near record levels as well, with less than the equivalent amount of fanfare. […]

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