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If you’re looking to break into the exciting world of hedge funds and alternative investing, but you’re not sure where to start, here is a great jumping off point: check out a conference!  Here are a few tips to make your conference experience both enjoyable and worth your time and money.

To choose which conference you go to, think about the following:

  • How much can you afford to spend?  Take into account the sometimes-outrageous conference fee plus travel costs.  Keep in mind you don’t have to stay at the hotel the conference is held in if it’s not in your budget.  Since most conferences are held in large cities, you can generally find a less expensive place to stay.
  • Is there anything in particular you’d like to learn about?  Search for a conference that interests you, or has at least one panel or speaker session that really intrigues you.
  • Is there anyone in the hedge fund world you’d like to meet?  If they’re a bigwig at one of the larger funds, there’s a good chance they’re speaking at a conference in the next year or so.
  • Is there a firm you want to work for but can’t get your foot in the door?  Take a look at both who’s speaking at the conference and who’s sponsoring the conference.

Once you’ve signed up for a conference, contact the conference organizer and let them know your situation, i.e. if you’re a student, recent graduate, or otherwise unemployed.  Ask if there are any invite-only events going on, and ask for an invite.  Many times, various firms or vendors will sponsor invite-only happy hours or dinners, and you can meet a great variety of people at these events.  They’re also generally more fun than the conference itself.

At the conference, dress appropriately.  Feel free to contact the conference organizer and ask about the dress code.  If in doubt, wear a well-fitting suit.  Make sure you look professional without your suit jacket so you can remove it at the conference if you look overdressed.

Also, be sure to check out the vendors.  You may meet one you’d like to work for, or you may meet someone that will help you later on in your career.  Treat everyone you meet as if they’re just as important as the CEO of the hedge fund you’re dying to work for.

Last important tip: watch your alcohol consumption at the conference, at any happy hour or dinner, and at the conference hotel.  If you’re new to this world, alcohol and finance go together like bread and butter.  Set a limit and stick to it.  If you don’t think you can do that, drink soda so it looks as if you’re drinking a mixed drink.  As fun as it can be boozing with important people, you don’t want to be remembered as the kid who yakked on the plant at the fancy restaurant.

Check out the following for upcoming conferences:

Enjoy your conference (but not too much)!

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Hedge funds have grown substantially over the past decade as an alternative investment class for those that want returns not necessarily correlated with the overall market. These funds do not face the same restrictions as traditional funds such as mutual funds, and this freedom allows hedge fund managers to pursue a variety of unique investment strategies. Some of these investment strategies include long-short funds, relative value funds and commodity funds.

The freedom to short equities and trade in derivatives sets hedge funds apart from traditional mutual funds. Many investors believe that these exposures make hedge funds more risky, and in many cases, they are correct. However, the careful application of derivatives and short positions in a portfolio can yield solid returns that are not tied to any existing index, giving the investor instant diversification.

Hedge Fund Industry Affected by Overall Climate

The hedge fund industry is intimately tied to the overall investment climate. In times of high economic risk like we are seeing today, investors tend to avoid riskier investments such as hedge funds and equities in favour of fixed income alternatives such as Treasury bonds. The redemptions caused by this shift in capital allocation impact not only the size of hedge funds, but also the fees that hedge fund managers collect. This then impacts the resources that hedge fund managers are able to bring to bear in the management of the portfolio.

The New York Times captures this trend in a May article, discussing the slowing in hedge fund inflows. While overall hedge fund asset growth has been on the decline since May of 2010, the article indicates that one of the bright spots in the industry has been fixed-income funds. Leon Mirochnik, an analyst at TrimTabs Investment Research, said “investors see these strategies as offering the best defense against unpredictable geopolitical issues.”

Other niche markets such as funds in Japan and macro based funds are also experiencing growth in light of the overall decline in the industry. This has been despite negative returns in the Japanese market in particular.

Hedge Fund Jobs Outlook

Opportunities in the hedge fund industry will be limited moving forward unless a reversal in the flow of funds occurs and assets under management begins to grow again. Quite simply, there isn’t enough money moving into the funds to justify the addition of resources. The exception to this trend is of course the niche market and the fixed income funds that are experiencing growth. Individuals with experience and knowledge of these niche markets may find some success in the hedge fund industry over the coming years.

With that considered, until a robust economic recovery gets underway, investors will continue to avoid risky assets and hedge funds certainly fall into that class. This will continue to be a drain on hedge fund assets under management for some time to come.

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Hedge Fund Industry Sees Signs of Recovery

July 23, 2012

Over the past several years, the hedge fund industry has struggled to grow, with market uncertainties pushing investors towards safer and more liquid asset classes. In many cases, investors are scared away from hedge funds by media sources that paint all hedge funds with the same brush, labeling them as speculative investment classes. Redemptions Down […]

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Niche Market Hedge Funds

July 9, 2012

Hedge funds have grown substantially over the past decade as an alternative investment class for those who want returns not necessarily correlated with the overall market. These funds do not face the same restrictions as traditional funds such as mutual funds, and this freedom allows hedge fund managers to pursue a variety of unique investment […]

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Hedge Fund Career Opportunity Regulatory Compliance

June 11, 2012

Globally, regulators have been working towards a G20 agenda of introducing new registration and reporting rules for hedge fund managers. Both the Alternative Investment Fund Managers Directive (AIFMD) in the European Union and the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act in the United States are seeking to enhance the flow of information from […]

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Hedge Fund Quant Jobs Have Their Rewards

September 23, 2009

Hedge fund and other financial professionals who toil away on highly complex and sophisticated financial models have their “Academy Awards” too. Recently, The CME Group, which bills itself as the world’s largest and most diverse derivatives marketplace, and the Mathematical Sciences Research Institute (MSRI), awarded their fourth annual grand prize for innovation. The award recognizes […]

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A Hedge Fund Giant Every Job Applicant Should Know

September 21, 2009

The financial meltdown sank some of the most storied names in banking and brought the world financial system to the brink. But John Paulson earned nearly $6 billion betting against the mortgage market and banks, and earned himself a place as one of the savviest hedge fund managers in history. Motley Fool profiles Paulson in […]

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