How to get a technology job at a hedge fund in Singapore
Landing a technology job at a hedge fund can often feel like the sort of lucky break that tends to happen to someone else. Better pay, bigger bonuses and a chance to work in a multitude of areas involving capital markets – not to mention the sense of being valued by the organisation – are just a few of the perks for technology workers who can secure a job in these institutions known for pooled investment funds and complex trading strategies.
Although there’s no easy pathway into a hedge fund, this is a great time to make overtures to the fast-growing industry in Singapore, according to Thomas Chapman, director of the technology team at TENTEN Partners.
“We are surprised how resilient the market has been in the last few months,” says Chapman. "It is a bit of a perfect storm for the region and specifically for Singapore because of the fact that people want to invest here because it’s a more immature market and there is a lot of opportunity and wealth here."
If you want to get a technology job at a hedge fund in Singapore, here’s how to go about it.
1) Brush up on fundamentals over specific tools
One of the first things to keep in mind is that hedge funds are different from technology companies and tend to put more emphasis on fundamental skill sets. The idea seems to be that hedge funds are inclined to apply technology skills in ways that might be unfamiliar.
“It tends to be more on fundamentals,” says Chapman, referring to the hiring assessments by hedge funds. “They often assess candidates based on algorithms and data structures, logic and problem solving – that’s quite a lot different from how a tech company would approach it.”
In general, hedge funds and high frequency trading firms are looking to hire roles relating to site reliability engineering development operations, data engineering and core software development.
Much of the demand is coming from hedge funds with offices in New York or London that are opening their first offices or expanding their existing offices in Singapore. In a sign of the times, many hedge funds in Singapore are rolling out regional data technologies that will compliment their head office systems, a trend that breaks from a past model of satellite offices that looked overseas for tech support.
Thomas says he recently placed a local candidate into the role of chief technology officer at the global asset manager Point72. Other hedge funds expanding their headcount in Singapore include Citadel LLC, Millennium Management, and Blackrock.
Thomas says it can be “difficult” to place local candidates into high level tech positions if they have not worked abroad in another financial hub such as London or New York.
However, not all technologists find it necessary to work abroad to boost their careers. Eng Jin G joined Balyasny Asset Management in May as a senior engineer, according to his LinkedIn profile. Eng joined the firm after leaving Point72 after three and a half years, having achieved the post of vice president of trade execution and support.
2) Understand the hedge fund business before applying
Thomas says most hedge funds will interview aggressively on a candidate's reasons for joining the firm. “It's an industry that wants to hear why you want to work in that industry,” says Chapman.
For the most part, it’s not good enough to say that you are a technologist and are happy to work in another role or industry, he says. Another idea is to build up relationships by attending talks, conferences and other speaking events that provide an opportunity to hear an asset manager’s view on the global outlook, or insight into the firm’s culture. “Research on the company and the products that they are involved in," says Chapman.
3) Play golf
In Singapore, as is the case in financial hubs the world over, it’s not uncommon for financial professionals to get together over a round of golf. Getting invited along to join the right group can add up to an invaluable networking opportunity. Socialising can be done on and off the golfing range, but keep in mind that playing well tends to leave a positive impression, says Thomas.
“You’ve got to be respectable [at golf],” he says, adding that it's not important to be the best player, but rather to not hold the group up. "It gives you time with senior people who wouldn’t normally have the time to have those conversations."