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Morning Coffee: A powerful letter from a refugee seeking an analyst job. The ‘cancer’ killing hedge funds

Sometimes a compelling personal history can trump a lack of traditional qualifications.

Most recruiters are used to reading cookie-cutter cover letters that lack personality. However, the unsolicited letter of interest that boutique investment shop Broyill Asset Management received from Jay, a refugee who escaped a secret military prison camp in civil-war-torn Sri Lanka, doesn't fall into that category.

Jay’s letter is extraordinary because it starts and ends by stating his desire to join the North Carolina-based registered investment adviser as a junior analyst, but in between recites his remarkable personal history in a matter-of-fact tone, which makes it that much more impactful.

After acknowledging that he does not have the typical profile of an investment analyst, Jay shares the details of his astounding story, starting with his childhood in Sri Lanka:

“The longstanding civil war (which had been waging since 1983) began to escalate while I was in high school. In response to the rape of female students by military officers, I began organizing nonviolent demonstrations beginning in 2004. These protests evolved into 150,000 people rallies against the militarization of the Sri Lankan government.

“Seeking to quell protests, I was kidnapped and interred in a secret concentration camp located in the northern part of the country in 2006. Peers in the camp were blindfolded and executed. Sensing that I was going to be killed as well, thirteen weeks into the incarceration, I escaped from the camp and had to find a means to flee the country, alone, at age 19. In hiding, with no internet or other outside access to the world, I self-studied for the SAT and SAT II Subject Tests (Math Level 2, Physics, and Chemistry), motivated to secure a student visa with admission to a university in the United States…. I subsequently received a student visa and graduated with a degree in Engineering. I have also since received a green card.”

While Broyill isn’t hiring at this time, if the letter goes viral or at least gets in front of the right person, Jay should be working as a junior analyst in no time.

Separately, the $2.9 trillion hedge fund industry has generated average annual returns of 2% over the past three years, which is significantly below the three-year returns of most low-cost index-tracking funds, Bloomberg reported.

Those disappointing returns – and the downward fee pressure and $51.5bn in redemptions over the first nine months of this year stemming from them – have led many hedge fund managers to experience an existential crisis, wondering if they will ever be able to generate the level of profits that made so many of them fabulously wealthy.

Around 530 hedge funds – including high-profile firms such as Chesapeake Partners Management and Nevsky Capital – went under in the first six months of the year, which was on pace for the most closures since 2008. Perry Capital, one of the oldest hedge funds in the world, liquidated last month.

Some hedge fund managers have equated the industry’s current malaise to a slowly spreading cancer, with one founder saying that half of the 8,400 existing funds will have to bite the dust for surviving firms to return to profitability again.


Lloyd Blankfein revealed which presidential candidate he supports, even though he previously had declined to endorse either one publicly. (Bloomberg)

Deutsche Bank shares are up 14% this month and have already surpassed their level just before the U.S. DoJ announced that it was seeking a $14bn fine. (FT)

Much of that may be attributable to the fact that the German bank is a lead financial adviser and sponsor on British American Tobacco’s $47bn attempt to takeover Reynolds American, which would easily be Deutsche’s biggest deal of 2016. (Bloomberg)

AT&T has reached an agreement to buy Time Warner for $86bn. (New York Times)

A former Wells Fargo employee who did whatever it took to meet the bank’s aggressive sales goals said that he “thought he was having a heart attack,” while another said that the stress caused her to drink hand sanitizer. (New York Times)

Wells Fargo employees did with a series of laugh-or-cry YouTube videos well before the scandal broke. (Bloomberg)

The DoJ is apparently getting ready to sue Moody’s, the world’s second-largest ratings firm, over it’s pre-crisis ratings of bonds and more complex securities. (WSJ)

The co-head of investment banking for Latin America at Goldman Sachs will retire at the end of the year. (Reuters)

Can London – a city of almost 9m people who consider it to be the “soft power capital of the world” – sustain its ability to attract international talent under a hard Brexit scenario? (Bloomberg)

The head of the British Bankers’ Association warned that major banking executives’ “hands are quivering over the relocate button.” (The Guardian)

U.K. financial services regulators want to strengthen individual accountability at banks and insurers, so they are increasing scrutiny on heads of operations and information technology. (WSJ)

Note to millennials: To retire by age 60, you’ll have to earn high pay, have few expenses or significantly scale down expectations for your standard of living both before and after retirement. (Business Insider)

The technology revolution, exemplified by Silicon Valley, has delivered innovation in many areas, but it hasn’t really created many jobs in the U.S. (WSJ)

How concerned are you, on a scale of one to 10, that a robot might take your job? (CityAM)

Five ways that algorithms will improve the recruitment game. (Harvard Business Review)

Why everyone, especially women, should ask for a raise in the very near future. (Bloomberg)

Photo credit: SasinParaksa/GettyImages

AUTHORDan Butcher US Editor
  • Sh
    Shanti Singh
    24 October 2016

    This is awesome-- as a career coach, I often encouraged my clients to think and write "outside the box"-- non cookie cutting letters-- this is a perfect example!!-- way to go-but remember, you also have to network to get pass the non-readers!!!

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