Morgan Stanley's hot young trader ditches fintech after six months for Bridgewater Associates
Fintech is not for everyone. Six months after quitting his trading job at Morgan Stanley to launch a financial technology start-up, Jonathan Birnbaum has returned to finance by taking a role at Bridgewater Associates.
Birnbaum is now head of fixed income trading execution at Bridgewater Associates, having quit his role as COO of Morgan Stanley’s U.S. credit trading group in January to get two fintech firms off the ground.
He was singled out as one of the hottest young talents at Morgan Stanley by Forbes magazine last year, making into 2016’s 30 under 30 in finance list. Birnbaum was a VP at the bank, but still led a team of 100 people across investment grade, high yield and distressed debt trading, all at the tender age of 29.
Despite this fecundity of responsibility, Birnbaum left Morgan Stanley in January to launch the Vistia Group, a fintech platform that allowed homeowners to share equity in their property with investors. He also founded Crumb, a social payments app. He has since left both firms and returned to the financial sector.
Birnbaum is an example of the tech-savvy millennial traders that investment banks are attempting to keep hold of as they juniorise their trading floors. Before his last role at Morgan Stanley, he worked as an emerging markets trader and later moved across to an electronic trading role, working on technology projects to improve its platform and workflow.
He completed an MBA at Columbia Business School, which may have prompted his move into entrepreneurship.
Birnbaum was named by Forbes alongside some other fast-tracked young traders like Darren Dixon, the 29-year-old Goldman Sachs managing director who focused on Latin America credit trading. Other Goldman traders to move up the ranks quickly include Dan Avery, a 28-year-old index trader and Sam Berberian, a high yield credit trader, both of whom were promoted to managing director last year.
Birnbaum replaces Tom Zychinski at Bridgewater. The former head of fixed income trade execution at Bridgewater Associates joined Citadel in June as head of portfolio analytics and monitoring within its equity quantitative research function.
High profile hedge funds have proven to be alluring landing spots for young traders on Forbes' list. Jonathan Bensoussan, who worked on BlackRock's credit enhanced strategies team in Europe and was also named on the 30 under 30 in finance list, left in April to joined Steve Cohen's family office Point72 Asset Management.
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