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Hedge funds demand impeccable academics...even for techies

If you want to get into a hedge fund there are usually two basic prerequisites - flawless academics from a top university. It's slightly surprising, though, that this elitist attitude even extends to IT roles.

A move from an investment banking technology role to an IT position in a hedge fund is increasingly common. The selling points of such a switch are bigger bonuses and the fact that technology is generally more closely aligned to the business at a hedge fund.

"The first thing that hedge funds are asking for is impeccable academics - this means perfect A-levels, a first degree from a red brick university and, ideally, a Masters in computer science or a mathematical subject," says one IT in finance headhunter.

By contrast, investment banks generally ask for key technical skills programming languages like C++, C# and Java, and then experience in the particular product area relevant to the role.

While technical skills are, of course, important to hedge funds recruiting technologists they tend to take a back seat to academics, even for relatively senior roles.

"Hedge funds assume that top academics mean that a candidate is more likely have an analytical mind set, and be able to solve problems in the role more easily," says Nick Finlay, head of investment management at Hays Finance Technology. "Generally, this is something they test anyway, but unlike some investment banks that favour industry recognised assessments like Brainbench, hedge funds' tests are bespoke."

The key point, he adds, is that hedge funds are trying to find innovators for their IT roles, rather than technologists who have been institutionalised in larger financial organisations.

"Hedge funds want to see evidence of a passion for technology. For example, we recently placed a candidate who had written a Sudoku application in their spare time. It's these sorts of innovations hedge funds want to see."

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AUTHORPaul Clarke
  • le
    lemonsqueez@o2.pl
    30 July 2011

    I must say a lot IT people at large institution are squareheads. I have met plenty of people oputside industry who really should be paid twice what they currently are because... they CAN innovate. Defo London is the capital of overpaid IT people.

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