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hedge fund salary

When you are finally offered a position at a hedge fund, whether it’s entry level or beyond, you have to look beyond salary and decide what other compensation you want as part of your package. This can include signing bonus, health and dental insurance, paid vacations, paid sick leave, retirement or 401k plans, tuition reimbursement, even things like flextime or remote work options. Have a complete picture of what you hope for.

When you go in to negotiate (and it’s always best to do it in person, where you can read the other person’s body language and respond immediately), talk in terms of what you can do for their firm. Quantify your skills if possible. Talk about the contributions you have made elsewhere, the performance you’ve achieved, awards and other recognitions and how you can bring that achievement to their firm.

Never be afraid to ask for something. Employers are prepared to negotiate, and often feel more comfortable hiring someone who knows his or her professional worth. And while entry-level jobs may be more restrictive on salary range, there are many other perks and benefits, from signing bonuses to an early salary review, that can be negotiated upfront. There is no harm in asking, and they will respect you for a thorough approach.

Negotiating your compensation should be a win-win situation. You are trying to find common ground where you both feel like you are getting maximum benefit from the arrangement. Keeping things positive and you can move forward towards starting your hedge fund job, even if you have to give up a concession or two.

It helps to negotiate from a position of strength. Knowledge about the market and compensation for similar jobs is one way. Whoever can walk away from the table also is in a strong position. If you have more than one offer at the same time this obviously gives you a tremendous bargaining position. You are able to mention that you are comparing compensation plans from both. Of course, this must be done diplomatically. You may want to indicate that you would prefer one firm if they could match the compensation offered by another.

Finally, when you have an agreement on salary and compensation, always get the offer in writing. Follow up with a letter to your employer mentioning how enthusiastic you are about working for them, when you are beginning your job, at what salary, and summarize all the other benefits you talked about. It’s crucial that you get it all in writing soon after finishing the discussion.

Keep in mind that this is an ongoing process. After you have worked at the firm for a year or longer, you will be thinking about negotiating for increased compensation. So if you truly want to work for a particular hedge fund, view your initial negotiations as the beginning, not the end, of an ongoing process.


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If there’s one thing that makes people uncomfortable, it’s setting a value for what they think their skills are worth, and negotiating compensation with a new employer. In the hedge fund world, this task is even tougher given the wide range of jobs and salaries in the industry. Nevertheless, there are a number of principles that can help you do a better job at it.

First, welcome the process. If you have made it through rounds of interviews with various people throughout the firm, possibly even a presentation or case study or two, and are still seated in front of an interviewer, then you know they are interested in you. Employers want quality employees, so they expect you to know what you’re worth and to negotiate for it.

There are two critical steps you must take during the interview process. First, nearly every expert suggests avoiding any discussion of salary or compensation. By all means, don’t be the first to bring it up. If the person across the desk mentions it, deflect the topic with a polite, “we can work out the details of compensation at a later date.” Or “I’m sure my compensation package will be within the accepted range for someone with my skills and experience.” Avoid the topic entirely for now.

Whoever mentions a salary range first loses, in a sense, because they have set a firm stake in the ground that will be more difficult to move from. If you aim too high, you could disqualify yourself from the running. Aim too low, and you devalue your worth to the firm or open the door for a “low-ball” offer.

Next, you must do your research. Check out various online sources such as Job Search Digest’s annual Hedge Fund Job Compensation Survey. Take a look at the many hedge fund job listings on our site and compare salaries for jobs similar to the one you’re applying for. Create a range of salaries that represent: 1) what you’d really like to earn; 2) what you’d settle for; 3) the least amount you’d be willing to accept. Back this range up with data from job listings for people with similar skills and experience to yours.

Wait until they give you a firm offer to begin your negotiations. And above all, never, ever accept the first offer you are given. Recruiters suggest you thank them for the offer, express enthusiasm for the job and the firm and how much you’d like to work there, and ask for a few days to think it over. Most firms will gladly agree. 

This gives you time to build a case for your compensation package. If you have specific skills that you’ve acquired, a successful investment track record, awards or recognitions, experience with “brand name” schools or employers, or some extra edge or unique ability such as sales, asset gathering, IT skills, or quantitative modeling, then you can build a strong case for a higher salary range.

Next time, we’ll look at how to add value to your compensation package without discussing salary.

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