Having spoken to a number of recruiters and hedge fund managers it is clear that generic CV’s which include boring statements give you no chance of landing a job. For example, “I am really passionate about the hedge fund industry” & “I will work for free to gain access to the industry” will simply not cut it. The hedge fund market has taken a big hit during the financial crisis and employers can therefore afford to be more selective in choosing from a wider pool of candidates. The obvious answer is to create your own personalised Unique Selling Point (USP).
I have attempted to achieve a USP by utilising my work experience to date in order to position myself above the crowds:-
- For instance, running a renewable business has given me a unique insight into the renewable industry and the day to day issues which small businesses face. Given hedge funds are essentially small businesses and many are now focusing exclusively on green stocks these are two good differentiators to build my USP.
- In growing a small business I have also had to sell products to clients, build relationships and actively participate in marketing and selling. Since hedge funds rely on attracting new investors by actively selling their investment strategy through several different marketing channels these are also useful qualities to bring into my USP.
In conclusion its not always about what work experince you have done previously but how you position that experince in a way that becomes relevant and attractive to the hedge fund employer.
There appear to be three main ways into a hedge fund:- 1) Trader 2) Analyst 3) Marketing.
I have never done trading which just leaves the analyst and marketing roles. Looking at my experience to date I could go down either path but based on my accounting background and analytical experience the more sensible move is to go for the analyst route. This should give me a good base to develop into a portfolio manager and to my eventual goal of becoming a hedge fund manager.
The only slight problem is which analyst role to undertake! The following roles could all be described as a hedge fund analyst:- financial analyst, business analyst, investment analyst, equity analyst, buy side equity analyst, sell side equity analyst etc . . . Fortunately there are clear differences between each role and since the buy side equity analyst lets me analyse individual companies and interact with portfolio managers this is the obvious choice.
I heard being a chartered accountant with a big four accountancy firm would give me a good chance of landing a job in the hedge fund industry. However, just to be sure and push the odds further in my favour I decided to undertake the following exams:-
Investment Management Certificate (Unit 1 and Unit 2)
The starting point for learning about the financial and ultimately hedge fund world. Each unit requires about 50-75 hours of study time depending on your experience and fondness for learning facts. Both exams are taken on really old computers at an independant assessment centre where the security would give Fort Knox a run for its money. Emptying my pockets and asking for permission to go to the toilet were two of my highlights.
Certified Hedge Fund Professional (Level 1 and Level 2)
I found this qualification searching on google and it is run by the Hedge Fund Group, an organisation started by Richard Wilson. The qualification is split into two levels, the first on the hedge fund industry (75 study hours) and the second into capital raising (75 hours study). Richard is a leading voice on the hedge fund industry and I found the entire program really well structured and beneficial. It appears to be the only hedge fund specific qualification out there so hopefully a key differentiator.
Chartered Financial Analyst (Level 1, 2 & 3)
This is the bees knees of all the hedge fund qualifications out there, especially if you are looking to move into an equity analyst role like I am. This qualification is split over 3 years as you can only take each level at certain times of the year and you need 3 years work experience to become fully chartered. I’m taking level 1 in December 2012 (300 hours study) so will update the blog on my progress. There are 6 large books to read through but compared to the dull accountancy books in my earlier career its honestly like a comedy sketch.
After leaving Durham University I was employed by Ernst and Young LLP where I qualified as a chartered accountant within the Corporate Finance Team. After a six month secondment at the Pensions Regulator working as a business analyst I decided to setup my own renewable energy business called Ultimate Green Energy Ltd (www.uge.uk.com). The basic idea of the business is to reduce the energy bills of domestic and commercial properties by installing energy efficient technologies such as solar panels, wind turbines and LED lighting.
The business is profitable and has a bright future but my dream job has always been to run my own hedge fund. I’m 28 now and feel the time is right to change career direction for the last time and focus on reaching my full potential in the hedge fund industry. In light of the need for transparency following several financial scandals I thought the best way to achieving this was to document my journey, be completely open about my experiences and hopefully keep everyone entertained along the way! I couldn’t have picked a tougher time to enter the industry but I do love a challenge.
I have set myself the ambitious goal of becoming a hedge fund manager and want to document my journey in this blog. There is lot of secrecy around the hedge fund industry and not all of it is justified. I want to be as honest as possible about my experiences, try to entertain, make some new friends and eventually help as many people as I can get involved in this exciting industry.