From the category archives:

Hedge Fund Jobs

Contrary to popular opinion, earning an MBA will not necessarily earn you a spot in the hedge fund industry. According to the 2017 Hedge Fund Compensation Report, just 4 percent of those surveyed were hired by a hedge fund as students graduating with an MBA.

This is not to minimize the value of an MBA in the industry. In fact, the report revealed significant salary advantages for MBA holders, with MBAs earning about 17 percent more than non-MBA peers in terms of base pay. The size of an MBA’s bonus also exceeded his non-MBA peers, in some instances by 73 percent!

However, the MBA cannot be realistically portrayed as a path to a job in hedge funds.

What Is the Path?

While there is no single answer to this question, one thing is clear; experience is a major factor in landing a hedge fund job. Those with investment banking, asset management and sell-side experience accounted for 35 percent of the hedge fund professionals participating in the survey. In short, experience seems to trump the MBA.

While it is demonstrably true that experience in investment banking, asset management and the sell-side will increase your odds of securing a position in a hedge fund firm, the actual appeal of the hedge fund industry is the extensive variety of backgrounds that enjoy the opportunity to make it into the industry.

The report referenced earlier demonstrates that people enter the hedge fund industry from a wide variety of backgrounds, including proprietary trading, public accounting, information technology, management consulting and a host of other fields—including the legal profession.

One may correctly infer that the hedge fund industry is open to applicants with diverse backgrounds, and, while it is true that certain backgrounds are more likely to result in hedge fund employment, the possibility of work in the industry is open to all.

The Internal Career Path

Hedge funds are shining examples of meritocracy. Experience, successful experience, is the key to advancement within the hedge fund firm. For example, if you are successful at landing a position as an analyst, it will take around three to five years to become a senior analyst. To reach the level of portfolio manager will require, on average, another three to ten years…if the opportunity presents itself.

This period is fairly well established in large-sized hedge fund firms, but less so in small to medium-sized firms. Consider acquiring a CFA to accelerate the path to portfolio manager.

Hedge Fund Jobs

The competition for hedge fund jobs is fierce. For those a couple of years out of college, recruiters, job boards and, most critically, the ability to shine in the interview process are the shortest road to a junior role in a hedge fund. Go to your interview focused on developing long and short ideas. Demonstrate industry knowledge and, of course, an understanding of what is happening in the markets.

Hedge funds are packed with alums, so any failure to tap that networking resource will be to one’s detriment. This is especially true for MBAs.

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Although there are more than a few avenues leading to a job in the hedge fund industry, it can be argued that an analyst’s position is a typical entry-level position. Make no mistake; although the term entry-level often connotes the absence of a need for skills, education, prior experience or other attributes, this is not the usual scenario for an entry-level position in the hedge fund industry.

What They Do

An analyst is responsible for evaluating company financials, bonds, commodities, real estate, currencies and hard assets in the context of current (and future) economic and market conditions to ascertain their suitability as an investment in the hedge fund with a perspective to the fund’s strategy.

This requires the ability to analyze financial statements and prepare financial models to facilitate risk evaluation and alignment with a particular investment strategy.

What Are the Prerequisites?

The disciplines most valued are in the areas of accounting, economics, mathematics and statistics. It should be said that although there is a strong preference for these educational backgrounds, nothing is etched in stone. That said, aspiring analysts must demonstrate the ability to research, analyze and evaluate. The analyst must also possess excellent communication skills, an ability to work under pressure, meet deadlines, and multi-task in a fast-paced work environment. This requires a high degree of self-confidence, personal initiative and tenacity.

Apart from strong mathematical proficiency and quantitative skills, prospective applicants must be able to work effectively in a team environment. Analysts must also demonstrate flexibility and an innovative spark coupled with an interest in current affairs and insights on their impact on the markets. Equally important is a demonstrated commitment to further study, the pursuit of additional formal qualifications and a global mindset.

Clearly, computer literacy is essential, especially with respect to Excel, which is required for financial modeling and projection work.

Small vs. Large Hedge funds

Small hedge funds, generally speaking, seek candidates with broad knowledge bases. Large hedge funds are much more likely to seek a candidate with an industry specific or regional knowledge base. One example would be a knowledge base specific to the pharmaceutical industry.

What They Earn

According to the 2017 Hedge Fund Compensation Report, analysts in hedge firms with assets under management (AUM) of less than $100 million, earn a mean base pay of $110 thousand annually. In contrast, analysts in firms with an AUM greater than $1 billion earn a mean base pay of $157 thousand. The report also reveals mean bonus pay of $62 thousand in small firms as compared to mean bonus pay of $176 thousand in the larger firms.

Analysts are also going to earn a great deal of unpaid overtime, untold hours of telephone calls, endless meetings and inescapable amounts travel time in the bargain! These are the elements necessary for success.

For those willing to make the needed sacrifices, a hedge fund career can be extremely rewarding, which is doubtless the reason for the incredible level of competition encountered by anyone pursuing a job in the hedge fund industry.

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Hedge Fund Hiring in Quarter One

May 16, 2017

Many have the preconceived notion that jobs in the hedge fund industry entail hundred hour work weeks that wear down employees in a matter of months, not years. While it is true that a small percentage of firms may have this view, it is equally true that there are multiple roles in a hedge fund […]

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Hedge Fund First Quarter Gains Are in the Black

April 17, 2017

Hedge funds posted an aggregate 2.3 percent gain through the first quarter, which marks the strongest start for the industry since 2013. Long/short equity strategies lead the pack with composite returns of 3.2 percent. Back to Reality At first blush, this sounds terrific but, realistically, the industry is beating a very low bar—its own performance […]

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Hedge Fund Numbers Shrink as Assets Under Management Soar

March 20, 2017

The suggestion that assets under management are soaring is admittedly a bit Trumpian, but the fact is that the number of hedge funds shrank to 9,803 (including funds of funds) while 2016 industry assets under management climbed to just over $3 trillion according to the HFR Market Microstructure Report. What Can Be Inferred From the […]

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Surprisingly Investors Remain Bullish on Hedge Funds

March 5, 2017

After an inglorious 2016, many pundits jawbone about a continued investor exodus from the so-called overpriced and underperforming hedge fund industry. However, the facts are in stark contrast to the rhetoric. January 2017 redemptions total $5.2 billion, about one-quarter of the $19.3 billion outflow the hedge fund industry experienced in January 2016. Furthermore, a substantial […]

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Hedge Funds Face-Off with the 4 Horsemen of the Apocalypse

May 31, 2016

Who are these four horsemen? Pitiful performance, available alternatives, reduced fees, and impatient investors. Abysmal hedge fund performance has been the norm for the past five years. Hedge Fund Research reported the global hedge fund composite to be down almost 1.2 percent when averaged over the past five years. Contrast this with the S&P 500, which is up […]

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