Q: What is your current role? Can you describe your working experience on the sell side before making the jump?
G: I am currently working at a Global Equities L/S Fund, primarily as a Trader covering the US and European markets. My responsibilities also include optimal margin usage and FX hedging of the fund’s portfolio positions. On the Sell side, I worked with Deutsche Bank as a Funding Trader where I learnt about the Prime Brokerage business.
Q: How did you make that jump to the Buy side, and what did you find most challenging in your Buy side job search?
G: During my tenor on the Sell side, I was fortunate to have been involved in two of the most important aspects involved in a Hedge Fund – Research and Cash/ Liquidity management. While I was working in my funding role at DB, I started to read up about the investment strategies used by successful fund managers. While I was doing this, I came across the Henley Executive Hedge Fund Program which I will talk about later.
There are a few challenges to get into the Buy side:
- The teams are very small. Performance is critical to keep one’s job. The culture to “continuously improve and deliver” forms the basis of most funds and the fund managers want to see someone who can add value from day one. With no relevant experience in the industry, it becomes very difficult to get into a hedge fund.
- Even though Recruitment agencies are helpful to make an introduction to the Hedge Funds, the Hedge Fund managers generally go through their own networks, a) to have a trustworthy candidate as he/she comes from a known reference, and b) to save the recruitment commissions. This is where my own network and network from the Henley course helped me tremendously.
Q: How do you think the Henley Executive Fund Program assisted your jump from the Sell side to the Buy side?
G: I joined the program so that I could learn what a potential Hedge Fund employer would need. The program was very detailed in aspects like Portfolio Management, Risk Management, Prime Brokerage, Risk Controls etc and delivered by passionate industry experts.
Furthermore, I got opportunities to meet various Fund Managers through the networking sessions organized as part of the program and separately through my classmates and program administrators. This was as important as the learning sessions as I was able to speak to some fund managers and industry experts who were able to introduce me to some of their connections and it went on till I found my job.
I was also able to speak to the founders, Steve Bernstein and Anna Stephenson throughout my search. They gave me valuable advice at various points and tried to steer me on the right path and this is something I appreciate immensely.
Q: How much do educational credentials matter on the Buy side?
G: From my experience, education credentials do matter on the Buy side. If you are from a renowned university or a B-school, it definitely helps as a hygiene factor.
Q: Can you evaluate the effectiveness of the Program based on content, delivery etc.?
G: The program was effective from the very fact that the content was delivered by professionals actually working in the hedge fund industry. The content was full of real-life stories – successful as well as unsuccessful. It was up to the candidate to pick up the modules they were interested in and dig deeper into the details. The candidates had access to the experts and could ask questions from a practical point of view. My class was made up of people with diverse backgrounds and nationalities – specialties including portfolio management, trading, legal, compliance, technology etc. were all represented and my fellow students were from Hong Kong, China, India, the US, Taiwan and the UK.
Q: Can you suggest some concrete advice on how to switch from the Sell side to the Buy side?
G: Be truthful to yourself and recognize your strengths. Work on those strengths so that you can use them from day one in a fund. Do not say something you do not know. Hedge Fund managers are very smart and are able to see through it. See if you can quantify the benefit you can potentially bring to the fund. You also have to build your own network and Henley Program helped me in achieving that industry network.