Are high paying hedge fund technology jobs worth the hassle?
You can get paid very well in a hedge fund technology job. According to some of the most recent H1B visa salaries registered by Citadel in the U.S., senior software engineers at the fund are on anything from $120k to $225k in salary. Levels.fyi suggests this is supplemented by roughly equivalent bonuses - the median total package for a Citadel software engineer is $330k. In London, even new graduates working as engineers at the fund say they're on $170k.
But that kind of compensation isn't handed out for nothing. Both Glassdoor and Blind are also littered with complaints with engineers at the hedge fund who say they're working long hours.
"70+ hours per week. Insane meeting times, 7am, 10pm," wrote one Citadel engineer on Blind recently. "Work hours depend on the team, time of year/quarter, and the demands of the business," said another. "In good times it hovers around 50ish hours per week. In rough times, it can be closer to 80 or higher."
Citadel isn't the only hedge fund struggling with technologists' complaints about hours. They are echoed at DE Shaw, where Levels.fyi puts the pay of a New York data junior at $200k and a more senior coder at $400k. "Absolutely no work life balance. You might even have to work for 12-13 hours straight," says one reviewer of the fund on Blind. At Millennium, there similar gripes about intensity and burnout.
Long working hours are part of the territory in finance, but hedge funds also seem to suffer from the other curse of the finance sector - legacy technology. The code at Citadel is "quickly but poorly written" according to one anonymous Blind reviewer, adding that it's unstable as a result. "There are so many legacy code no one really understand," (sic) says another. "The work at Citadel is a constant struggle with legacy technology and management," says another reviewer, writing on Glassdoor. Code review is seemingly minimal. "If you're a software engineer on the wrong team (most of them), your time will be almost 100% consumed by either migrations or production support," writes another complainant.
Citadel declined to comment for this article, but technologists contemplating the fund - or hedge funds in general - should know that there are also upsides beyond pay. Citadel purportedly offers excellent "intern swag" and "will spoil you". Most of the technologists who work for Citadel praise the extreme smartness of the people they encounter there.
Irrespective of short-term considerations, though, a technology job at a top hedge fund could set you up for life. After you've spent time at Citadel you can "get interviews wherever you want," notes one engineer: both banks and technology firms value top hedge fund experience. Think of it as an investment.
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