Who could say no to a good job that comes with great pay, a reliable future, and a chance to move up the corporate ladder? That’s part of the reason why financial services has become one of the fastest growing and most desirable sectors for job seekers in the United States, particularly on the buy side. According to a recent survey of roughly 1,000 workers in the finance and technology field by Options Group, a Wall Street recruiting firm and strategic consulting company for the financial-services industry, hedge fund workers as a group were the happiest and most satisfied with their jobs—and it is no surprise why. Working for a hedge fund can be very lucrative for savvy investors and financial analysts, even for those starting out in entry-level positions.
What to Look for in a Hedge Fund?
Finding the right hedge fund is about more than base salary. This is obviously a very important consideration, but it does not tell the whole story about the company you are applying with. Just like evaluating a company prior to purchasing stock, you should look carefully at a prospective hedge fund firm to determine its long-term health, viability, and success. After all, you do not want to start out your career as a financial analyst or portfolio manager at a firm that goes belly-up shortly after you assume your new role.
One of the best ways to evaluate a hedge fund is its AUM (assets under management), a measurement of the total market value of all the financial assets a firm manages on behalf of its clients. You should also evaluate a hedge fund based on employee satisfaction, job perks, and future growth indicators such as exploring new markets for investment. For this list we also considered results from the 2016 eFinancialCareers Ideal Employer rankings, which lists the most desirable employers among financial service professionals.
Top Hedge Fund Firms for Finance Professionals
Although getting your foot in the door with the best hedge fund companies requires experience, expertise, and education (in addition to persistence and determination), knowing which firms are the most desirable can help you develop the skills top employers are looking for. For example, you might research openings at Bridgewater Associates or BlueCrest Capital Management and find gaps in your resume that you can address with an advanced degree or professional finance credential.
Whether you are just starting out in finance or planning the next phase of your career, here is a look at four of the top hedge fund firms that attract the top finance professionals from all over the world.
- AQR Capital Management – Managing an estimated $29.9 billion, AQR Capital Management is one of the largest hedge funds in the world. The firm employs about 650 employees globally with offices in Boston, Chicago, Los Angeles, London, and Sydney. According to the 2016 eFinancialCareers Ideal Employer survey, AQR Capital Management is the #4 most desirable hedge fund in the United States for finance professionals seeking employment with a money management firm. Associates at AQR Capital Management report an average salary of $109,819.
- Bridgewater Associates – This independent, employee-run firm is one of the most desirable hedge funds for finance professionals. In fact, the 2016 eFinancialCareers Ideal Employer survey ranked Bridgewater Associates as the #1 hedge fund in the U.S. and in the top 50 firms globally. Bridgewater Associates manages over $150 billion in global investments and is considered to be a top thought-leader in the financial services industry. Daily Observations, Bridgewater’s flagship research publication, is a “must-read” for investors and policy makers around the world. Investment associates at Bridgewater Associates report an average salary of $125,046.
- Citadel – The #2 most desirable hedge fund firm in the United States according to the 2016 eFinancialCareers Ideal Employer survey, Citadel is one of the largest and most successful money management funds in the country. This tech-savvy firm is a model for how to run a hedge fund, and it shows in the number of financial professionals looking to get their start or advance their careers here: Citadel reportedly receives 20,000 resumes each year. The firm offers positions to about 2 percent of the pool, but considering that quantitative research analysts at Citadel report an average salary of $181,609, a long shot is better than no shot at all.
- Millennium Management – This firm might not be one of the most desirable destinations for finance professionals, at least according to the 2016 eFinancialCareers Ideal Employer survey, but Millennium Management is poised to be one of the biggest players of them all. Millennium Management has a healthy $32.7 billion AUM and more than 1,800 employees throughout the United States, Europe, and Asia, but it was what the firm did last year that has finance pros taking notice. In one of the worst years in recent history for raising money, Millennium raised $3.8 billion, a figure that represents almost one-tenth of the net inflows for the entire industry. Sources familiar with the firm say Millennium Management is looking to expand its workforce and add to the 180 teams it already has.
As you evaluate your career options, think about what you bring to the table. If more training or education would make you a more attractive candidate for the lucrative finance career you really want, consider expanding your knowledge and skills through Creighton University’s online Master of Investment Management and Financial Analysis. Call 866.717.6365 to learn more about the program and what a graduate finance degree can do for your career. Creighton’s MIMFA program is a CFA Program Partner with the CFA Institute.