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How a hedge fund trader quit finance and became a high-powered creative digital music guru

What people look like in the digital music industry

What people look like in the digital music industry

Financial services careers are not cool. The only people now who want to wed themselves to a life staring at spreadsheets or Bloomberg terminals are the people with a seriously intense interest in finance. All others are dropping away according to senior careers advisers at universities and business schools. 

If you work in finance and are feeling the pull of something more aspirational, you may want to let Marc Langsman be your guide. Like millions of others, Langsman went into finance out of university. He spent five years in the industry and then quit. He’s metamorphosed into a DJ/Producer and digital innovation manager at Universal Music in London.

“I worked in finance for a few years and then I just left,” Langsman tells us. “It wasn’t a difficult decision – I put some money aside and went back to university and retrained.”

Langsman spent four years at Lehman Brothers as a technology associate and one year at De Putron Fund Management as an execution trader. “I was at university and banks sent around information saying that they were interested in people who’d studied scientific and mathematical subjects. I didn’t have anything lined up and had studied technology. I thought banking would be an interesting thing to do – I just fell into it really,” he tells us, “It was never really a passion.”

Langsman says working in finance was ok until he left Lehman (in 2003) for De Putron. “I didn’t have a bad experience at Lehman, I just didn’t find it very fulfilling. But working for the hedge fund was very highly-pressured and the hours were difficult – we were trading a number of different markets in different time zones. One week I’d be doing nights and trading Australasia, another I’d be doing early mornings and trading London.”

Lacking sleep, Langsman left, retrained in media and got a whole new job as a studio assistant. “I was a definite pay cut after working in banking,” he says. Thereafter, he got various jobs in and around London’s Soho before becoming head of development and digital production at Virgin Digital Publishing in 2011 and a digital innovation manager at Universal late last year.

In his current position, Langsman says he’s ‘responsible for the creative development and product management of new digital music products and services’ at Universal and is at the forefront of the future of the music industry.

Langsman has some advice for other non-passionate financial services professionals who have fallen into the industry by accident. “Seize the day,” he suggests. “Change is always scary. The unknown is always scary, but you have to try these things.”

He also says that leaving finance isn’t as final as some people make out. “I left nearly 10 years ago and I still get called up by recruiters asking if I’m looking for work. You can always go back – it seems there’s no lack of opportunities.”

Comments (2)

  1. I’m sorry but this article is VERY misleading. For starters (with all due respect), this guy is not a hedge fund trader, he is an execution trader, which means he executes trades (and also the highly irritating job of booking and ensuring confirms etc) on behalf of hedge fund managers, who are the real hedge fund ‘traders’ at any hedge fund.

    Successful hedge fund traders don’t quit – they don’t quit because they typically make 10% or more of their P&L – which is usually always 7 figures. They either stay and keep making that sort of money until they cant, at which point they are fired. Working hours for a hedge fund trader are NOT set. No one even asks them if they are coming to office or not – you are either making money or you are not. There are many portfolio managers at big hedge funds who have much better hours than ops and IT.

    All due to respect to this guy for finding what he likes, but the reason he did not find his job very fulfilling was because he always worked in a support function (i.e. IT, ops, trade execution) which do not require any creativity or innovative thinking.

    Successful hedge fund traders don’t quit. Its because they make too much money. Unsuccessful ones cant quit because they are fired before they think about quitting.

    AHedgeFundTrader Reply
  2. @AHedgeFundTrader – It depends on what your definition of success is – I had an enviable job with great money at a cutting edge fund. We were analysing the markets and working with proprietary algorithmic trading models and execution engines, not booking and confirming trades. I believe many people in city institutions would love the opportunity to work somewhere like that with which was small, collegiate, innovative and had no dress code.

    If financial careers didn’t pay as they did, I’d wager most wouldn’t give them a second thought and its very easy to get trapped by the money. Since leaving finance I’ve worked in places where financial reward isn’t the primary thing that gets people out of bed and its refreshing.

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