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Buy-siders look down on bankers as plebian.

COMMENT: After a career in banking, the buy-side seems full of snobs

After 20 years in banking I'm ready for a change. I've run whole markets businesses. I know how to extract costs and how to implement a strategy that works. I'm a good catch for a hedge fund or a fund manager looking for someone to run the business while they focus on raising new funds and generating profts. Except no one will hire me.

As a banker trying to move to the buy-side, I have several things against me. I'm too senior. I'm a woman. And I don't know that many people on the buy-side because my career has always been in banks.

If juniorization is a thing in banks, it's an even bigger deal in funds. All the big players - Blackrock, Fidelity - are trying really hard to reduce their senior people right now. It seems they want to hire in juniors instead: it's all about VP-level and below. As far as they're concerned, the future of finance is Millennials with great grades from top schools who are prepared to work hard. Who cares that these juniors don't have any experience?

Then, I'm a woman. If you think banks are bad at promoting women, you clearly know nothing about hedge funds. These places are almost all men. And those men almost all know each other: they hang out together; their wives hang out together; their kids have play dates. Most of them used to work in banks (together) back in the day and they look at someone like me skeptically.

I've proved my worth over and over in 20 years, but to these buy-side guys I'm still an outsider. In a lot of buy-side firms there's kind of a culture of being an arrogant asshole: of only valuing the revenue earners and looking down on the people providing the support. When you're not in the front office, the pay isn't even that good. You're supposed to be in it for the prestige of working for a big name, the culture and the perks.

Did I not mention the perks? Well, there are plenty of these at top funds. At the right place (any big prestigious fund) you're going to get breakfast, lunch and dinner. There's basically going to be free food all the time. There are going to be parties - not just small parties, but renting a private jet and flying the whole staff to Jamaica with their families parties. You're going to be living the life with all these elite guys.

It'll be different at a smaller fund. There, there aren't any perks. It's all about being entrepreneurial and rolling up your sleeves, making do and problem solving. You're supposed to buy-in to the whole idea of the, "journey." That's your perk.

I'm actually happy to work for either kind (yes I want to get out of banking that much). I see it as a challenge: they're going to want to hire me. I'm just what they need.

Alice Fischer is the pseudonym of a senior banker in NYC

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AUTHORAlice Fischer Insider Comment
  • sh
    21 July 2017

    Atrocious. The value at HF is with those making the investments and taking the risks. If you've been in banking (whatever markets means), for 20 years, I'm willing to bet that you haven't been successful at either and therefore do not have what it takes to be successful at the business.

    HF is an incredibly meritocratic business as are the paths that lead to it. Stop pulling the gender card to compensate for your own short comings. The industry has a very short life span and is incredibly stressful. There are very few women who genuinely want this, and especially not someone who has worked in banking for 20 years. They have every right to be skeptical of your abilities and your motivation.

  • To
    12 July 2017

    It's not that she can't get a job in the buy-side, it's that she can't get the job she expects and wants. If she even knows what that stellar job she so deserves actually is, given that she thinks she can 'run the business' while other people are doing such non-businessy things as 'raising funds' and 'achieving high returns' ...

  • Ad
    11 July 2017

    Surely if you have run a markets business, part of your job (at least on the way up) was dealing with and managing clients. If you really have run markets businesses, then there should have been no shortage of opportunity to network with buy-side clients. #confused

  • Ma
    11 July 2017

    Your attitude is atrocious. What do you expect to achieve with this post?

    Why do you want to transition to the buy side? Why so late?

    If you project the kind of attitude and tone in person I am not surprised that you got a cold response.

    I will always be an arrogant snob to people with your attitude.

  • Ya
    Yash Shah
    11 July 2017

    Dear Alice,

    I'm glad you're making the move even after having spent 20 years as a banker.
    I am unaware of your financials, but if I were you I'd have saved up some money by now (being an Indian) and this is what my strategy for landing a hot seat in a hedge fund would be.
    It's simple (but not easy), execute proprietary trades on your own account for a couple of years and have the performance audited by a reputed firm. This would help you create the much needed track record and help you get meetings at the funds that you are looking to join (ofcourse, the performance should be good).
    During the course of the meeting, all you need to convince them is that you'd be able to better or at least replicate your performance deploying a much larger pool of money.
    To my mind, all that a hedge fund cares about is how much money you can make. They don't give a damn whether you are a cultural fit or not, whether you are male, female, transgender, straight, gay, lesbian. Nothing at all matters.

    Hope this helps!
    Yash Shah

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