Data scientists and technologists are trapped by hedge funds' horrible non-compete agreements

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As we reported last month, Point72 has parted company with David Loazia, its former chief data scientist. Loazia left the hedge fund at some point in the past few months. Don't expect him to turn up anywhere else anytime soon though - he's said to have a massive 18 month non-compete agreement which prevents him from working for a rival firm. Loazia will be tending his garden well into 2019 and maybe into 2020.

Point72 declined to comment on Loazia's contract and Loazia himself didn't respond to our request for information. However, he's not the only data scientist locked out the market. Hedge funds are well known for their non-compete periods, and the more that hedge funds come to rely upon data and technology professionals, the more people with these profiles are being compelled to sit at home along with portfolio managers before starting a new job.

"Non-competes are standard with almost all hedge funds and non-bank market makers and proprietary trading firms," says one headhunter who works in the quantitative finance market. "But you hardly ever see them in banks any more."

The longest and most punitive competes are typically to be found in North America (where Loazia is based). Here, funds like Citadel routinely impose two year non-compete periods on key staff. Remember Yi Zhang - the quantitative researcher who left Citadel after four years in May 2017? He's still sitting at home, babysitting, and won't be back at work until May next year. Samuel Livingstone, a former data scientist at Citadel left the London team in August and has a non-compete until December 2018. Conor White, Citadel's former head of technology for the UK and Asia, left in May and has already been on a non-compete for six months and counting.

It's not just Citadel. Two Sigma and Jump Trading are among the perpetrators too (accordingly, Lin Sun, a U.S. quant at Two Sigma has been out since June). Brevan Howard once attempted to impose a five year non-compete on star trader Christopher Rokos - but settled out of court following a legal dispute The British macro fund is also busy imposing non-competes on its tech staff: Razvan Moisa, the former lead technologist for its systematic investment group left in June and has been engaged in enforced recreational travel ever since. It's a hard life.

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