The hedge fund job market is robust in the Chicago area, particularly for mid-level professionals in due diligence, risk management and hedge-fund administration. Experienced professionals with Ph.D.s in sciences or math are also in demand.
"So far this year, there is still strong hiring," says Scott Ruoti, Vice President at Harmer Associates, a Chicago-based recruiting firm. His firm is seeing a "surprising amount" of hedge-fund hiring activity, he says.
Industry insiders agree recent announcements of massive write-offs by global financial powerhouses, coupled with 2008's intense market volatility, will likely lead to more layoffs among large financial services firms. But some see the unpredictable markets as an opportunity for candidates with strong management backgrounds or skills.
Scott Gerson, President of Focus Capital Markets, an international trading and technology executive search firm in New York that also serves the Chicago market, says, "Some hedge funds are looking to take advantage of that and are closely looking at the credit markets."
Hedge funds of various sizes report a need for mid-level analysts with quantitative skills and c-level risk-management executives. Brad Cole, president and chief executive of Chicago's Cole Partners and Cole Partners Asset Management, says his firm hired several mid-level analysts over the past year. Scott Sykora, president of LJM Partners in Hinsdale, Ill., added a chief risk officer and is targeting additional head count for 2008.
"Quant shops are hot," says Ruoti, "If you have the right skill set, you can always find a place."
Gerson agrees. "There's always a job market for very bright people with advanced degrees in the sciences of math, from entry level through traders, strategists or portfolio managers."
In addition to analysts, smaller shops report a growing need for hedge fund administrators. Andrew Cupps, president of Chicago-based Cupps Capital Management, says his firm recently added a fourth person in administration and support and is in the process of adding a research analyst. During 2008, the firm may consider hiring another analyst and account administrator.
Depending on the structure of the firm, the experience of the candidate and - more importantly - the role of the employee, compensation levels vary greatly. Salaries for mid-level analysts range from about $120,000 to150,000, with bonuses of 100 to 200 percent.
At all levels and compensation ranges, recruiters and managers agree that excellent formal education, the ability to contribute on multiple levels and a passion for the industry are characteristics of an attractive candidate.
"There will always be demand for people with superior intellects, people who have math backgrounds and can program," says Gerson.