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"I worked 80 hour weeks to deliver a platform for a hedge fund. Then they fired me"

I built a systematic trading platform for a hedge fund. I delivered an excellent platform ahead of time, but then they fired me, and now I can’t find a new job in what's a very difficult employment market.

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I shouldn’t even be looking for a job right now. I’m only on the market because I became surplus to requirements. Effectively, I was “fired” for being too effective in my previous role.

I joined the startup hedge fund last year. In the short period while I worked there, I built an order management system which allowed the firm to make its first eve trades. A typical week for me included working between 70 and 80 hours a week. I worked almost every weekend, and almost every day for the entire time, without a single day of holiday.

 

I did this for two reasons. Firstly, I was told repeatedly that the faster the firm was able to start trading, the faster I would start earning bonuses from the firm's PnL, assuming that the strategies indeed were profitable. (It is my understanding that they are highly profitable.)

Secondly, I loved my job. Every day, I got to build really cool stuff, all while learning a new language which was unfamiliar to me – Rust. Every day, I was learning more about Rust, Kafka, and the range of other technologies which we were leveraging. It was pretty great.

After months of hard work, the system finally went into production, and trades started flowing around the system. Two days later I was let go. I arrived in the office the morning after 48 hours of profit making, and was called into a private office. I was told it was “with regret” that my contract would be terminated that day, and that the “substantial bonus” which would be paid to me was “thanks” for the critical role I played in starting the company.

While I in no way regret working for the fund, as I gained a fast amount of experience in a relatively short period of time, I do regret not being more tactical with my work. I could have simply worked 40 hours a week. Had I done so, it is likely I would still be employed, still building the platform today.

Since the day I left, I have been relentlessly job searching. But so far I have found nothing. I was told in an interview for a junior quant position that it was “a bit of a red flag” that I worked somewhere for such a short period of time. 

So is that it? I know the job market is tough right now, but have I snookered myself and made myself unemployable for working too effectively during my last role? 

I think I have applied to every hedge fund and investment bank in London. My applications either received an automatic rejection, or simply no response in the majority of cases. In the handful of cases where I have been offered an interview, most have been initial conversations, followed by radio silence – not even a rejection email.

It seems that during such a dire economy, the dream of a junior quant role is out of reach, for now. Any advice would be greatly appreciated. 

Milan Gill is a pseudonym 

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AUTHORMilan Gill Global Editor
  • ni
    nice(ish)_hedgie
    24 April 2024

    I disagree with some of the harsher comments put out there. Seems like you did a good job and were cut. There are some, including the bigger guys out there who are a bit like that, but I don't believe this is the norm. I do agree that reading the room, or even before that, reading who you are employed by can help you avoid this sort of stuff. I'm sure you will be fine. Techwise once you have done something real, then I am sure there are others who will be interested.


    Of course, some might wonder why you were cut, I have no reason to doubt your story, but again it is usually in the best interests of these guys to keep people they respect and think can continue to add value.

    Good Luck

  • OT
    OTS Capital
    29 March 2024

    We are deeply sorry for your current situation. But let me introduce you to a new idea, we are a group of companies, smaller but agile and working on the forefront of the data driven quantitative strategies. We are building some really cool stuff and looking for people like you - if you read this and want to talk further please contact OTS Capital on LinkedIn.


    If this is not allowed please remove this comment, we just had to offer help to this skilled individual.

  • TW
    TWP
    18 March 2024

    I can empathize. After reading your story and the replies, a haiku came to mind:


    I’m a herbivore

    In a pack of carnivores

    called startup hedge fund.

  • Bo
    Boffin
    9 March 2024

    I have sympathy but it doesn't surprise me, anything involving money is cut throat, they should have paid your bonuses even if they ended your contract. The word "discretionary" bonus pops up all the time in contracts. Learn from it. I've worked for people who honoured all my bonuses commissions etc months after I exited the business but I've been ripped off too.

  • bo
    bolshiye-yaytsa
    1 March 2024

    I'm going to say a very similar thing, I don't have any sympathy here. I think you have to understand being in this type of industry that you're doing one of two things when you're building software. You're building efficiencies which are going to eliminate jobs, and you're also always working yourself out of a job. you have to understand going into this that you're building a product and that product at some point is going to mature. once the product matures it goes into a state where yeah it may need some features but it's mostly in a support mode and it needs to generate revenue at that point. if you're always enhancing the software and building new features there's never a point where you're going to have a company that is able to profit off of their product. yes I do understand that you do not want your company to stagnate and have massive tech debt and a crusty product line. but in this game every company typically has some sort of life cycle. unless you work for a company that just has unlimited money, consider yourself a hired gun with an endpoint. just like a tradesman that builds a house you put a foundation in you put all of the structure up you finish it, you polish the door knobs you plant the grass you put the driveway in you move on. you don't hang out and drink beers for the rest of your life at the same place. you move on....

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