Landing a job on the buy-side immediately out of school is a difficult climb. Those seats are typically saved for Ivy League graduates with otherwise flawless resumes. However, a new trend may be brewing that provides students who likely wouldn’t be on a hedge fund’s narrow radar an avenue.
Point72 Asset Management is the latest hedge fund to offer an online competition that gives a few select winners the chance to enter their recruitment channel and potentially earn a full-time offer. The Point72 Investor Semester Challenge is a ten-week simulated competition hosted on investment web app Tiingo. Students who enter will essentially play the role of a hedge fund manager by cultivating a simulated portfolio, including buying, selling and shorting market assets.
Contestants won’t only be judged on their ability to generate hypothetical returns, but also their capacity to research and effectively manage risk, according to Jonathan Jones, head of investment talent development at Point72. Tiingo will track an array of data to identify top performers, including how often competitors log in, research and utilize resources on the investing platform.
The idea behind the third iteration of the competition (including one pilot run) is to provide Point72 with an alternative recruiting pool that it otherwise wouldn’t have access to. “We’re not a huge firm that can visit 250 campuses around the world,” Jones said. “It’s our belief that exceptional investment talent exists in a wider array of places than we can look.” This includes students from non-target universities and those spread overseas.
The five top performers in each region (U.S., Europe and Asia) will be invited to one of Point72’s 2020 global summits in either New York, San Francisco, Hong Kong or Singapore, plus they’ll win a Microsoft Surface Go. To be eligible, you’ll need to be on pace to graduate in 2021, though Jones said students of any year are encouraged to participate and get on the hedge fund’s radar.
The summits are the first step in Point72’s student recruitment. Those that show well are offered summer internships, which are the main feeder for Point72 Academy, a nearly year-long paid training program aimed at molding recruits into investment professionals. Those who “graduate” from the program are then offered full-time analyst positions at the firm.
If nothing else, the investment challenge can help potential applicants cut the line. This year, the academy received 12k applications for around two dozen spots. Meanwhile, roughly 82% of the 2018 summer internship class received offers to join the academy after graduation, according to Jones.
While still in its infancy, the investment challenge has borne fruit for Point72. Three winners from the previous contest have been offered and have accepted internships for the coming summer. Two were well off Point72’s traditional radar; one a student at the University of Western Ontario in Canada and the other a former junior college student who transferred to a state school in Texas. The third fit the traditional mold – an Ivy Leaguer who was participating in investment clubs. But Jones said she only became aware of opportunities at the firm through the competition. The contest is currently running but participants have until Oct. 22nd to enter. Click here to register.
Meanwhile, Point72 isn’t the only hedge fund to create a game of sorts to try to expand its pool of candidates. Earlier this year, several fintech companies partnered to launch the Stocks Debate Challenge, an online video-based competition that granted three top performers job interviews at New York hedge fund Apex Capital Holdings. Like Point72, they plan to put on more challenges.
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