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How to get ahead as a graduate at hedge fund Point72

Point72 isn’t the only hedge fund that hires graduates and interns, but it’s possibly the most prolific.

That’s due to the Point72 Academy, which takes on interns and graduates, mostly to be molded into Point72 juniors. That academy has a podcast, which recently interviewed two academy graduate analysts, Vanessa Ma and Ryan Robinson, both of whom hedge fund’s TMT coverage team. They shared what they say as the most important ways they developed through – and after – the academy.

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For one, the business requires patience. “If you're sprinting to the finish line, you think after one year, you're going to be the best analyst in the world, I have bad news for you,” Robinson said. Being a good analyst is more about training “like an Olympian” as opposed to brute-forcing your way through something. No matter how much willpower, or intelligence, you think you have. Everyone there with you is as selectively chosen as you were in the first place.

Slow and steady, therefore, is how the race is won. Ma, for example, is a neuroscience graduate, values the soft skills of the role much higher than the technical ones. Whilst technical skills are very much coachable for most people, “soft skills are more behavioral,” with the ability to understand your own biases the most valuable.

Robinson agreed. The modelling and data analysis are “almost the easy parts of the job. Anyone can learn that,” he said. “Intellectual curiosity, pattern recognition, and hard work” are arguably more important. “The actual modeling of it, that's not the hard part, it's the thinking more critically, that I think is valuable, and can only be learned over time. And it takes a certain personality to have that.”

Divorcing your expectations of the job from the reality of the world is also critical. Jaimi Goodfriend, Point72’s program director, told new faces that they had to simply accept uncertainty That can be a difficult mentality shift. “I tend to be a perfectionist,” Robinson said. “So I like to know 100% of the answer. That's often not possible.”

Staying realistic (for lack of a better term) is something that Ma concurs with. She tells herself that she has to read “at least” one fiction book and one non-fiction book every quarter. The fiction book “not because it actually helps me my job, but because it reminds you that there is a world out there that doesn't work the same way as it does today.” The non-fiction book has a similar, if more corporate train of thought. “I think that's very important as a diagnosis of if you like doing these things - if you like reading about stuff like this, that's 80% of this job,” Ma said. 

It’s also worth pointing out that, if you’re moving from the sell-side to the buy-side (as many people do), your transferable skills might not be as wide-ranging as you think. Robinson said that he went from covering 12 stocks at Stifel to “over 50” at Point72. “It's very quickly information overload. It feels as if you're drinking from a firehose.”

The Point72 academy pays an annualized salary between $100k and $120k for “students” (summer interns) in the USA. Graduates earn way, way more, depending on the jobs they do – the hedge fund has applications open for an “entry level” quantitative researcher paying between $150k and $200k in base salary, for instance. It offers the same salary bracket to analysts in its fund flow research team.

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AUTHORZeno Toulon

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