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Point72 starts new Asian hiring spree “with Steven Cohen as head coach”

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Point72 Asset Management is ramping up its recruitment in Asia and increasing its office space as it poaches senior talent from struggling competitors and launches a new graduate programme.

The family office managing the assets of hedge fund billionaire Steven Cohen plans to hire more investment staff in the region, having already taken on 31 people in Asia this year.

“We’re expanding our headcount in Hong Kong, Singapore and Tokyo,” says Hong Kong-based Marc Desmidt, CEO of Point72’s international business. “We’ve already doubled our office space in Singapore and want to take a similar approach in Hong Kong and Tokyo.”

Desmidt isn’t setting a timetable for the new Asian recruitment.

“We don’t have time-sensitive hiring targets – instead we’re casting the net very broadly for investment professionals at all levels of experience,” says Desmidt.

“Hiring in Asia can be challenging, so if we find great people, irrespective of when that happens, we’ll want to speak to them. Our growth model here is talent led and doesn’t have capital constraints,” he adds.

The current job market in the Asian hedge fund sector is turning in Point72’s favour, however, because several of its rivals have recently trimmed staff.

In September, Tudor Investment shuttered its Singapore trading desk, as part of wider global cuts, and TPG-Axon Capital Management closed its Hong Kong office. Earlier this year Pine River Capital Management closed its Asia multi-strategy hedge fund.

“The fact that some of our peers are retrenching in Asia allows us to talk to even more people to see if we can find the right ones,” says Desmidt. “I want to take advantage of the opportunities presented by the market downturn to capture top talent.”

But Point72’s Asian expansion isn’t just based on poaching from competitors. As we reported last month, the firm has now launched its graduate ‘academy’ training programme in Asia.

Desmidt says a key objective of the year-long academy is to broaden the pool of junior talent available to Point72. It received more than 2,100 applications from Asia for the programme, but less than 1% of these people will make the cut and start with the firm in June.

“In Asia the hedge fund industry is much younger than it is in the West – there are significantly fewer people available, so you must be more creative with your hiring,” says Desmidt. “If we want more diversity of skills, we have to recruit students from a range of backgrounds. It’s hard to improve as a firm if you’re always hiring from the same pool.”

Point72 interviewed students with science and liberal arts degrees, for example. “But for arts students we put less weighting on the financial case study during the recruitment process as we don’t expect them to perform as well as those who’ve been studying finance for the past few years.”

Once in the academy Desmidt says students from non-finance background are given the technical skills they need. “I like to think we can coach them like at a sports franchise, with Steven Cohen as the head coach.”

“As an industry we need to get more creative in how we attract the skills we want. In the past we’d hire prop traders from investment banking, but this model is now being challenged as the sector matures in Asia,” he adds.

Asian academy members complete eight months of training in New York, then rotate between the firm’s offices globally for another four months before returning to work full-time in their home countries.


Image credit: portishead1, Getty

 

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