Managing traders is hard work, particularly if you haven’t ever been a trader yourself, but even more so if you have a passion for aphorisms found in management self-help books (unless written by Nassim Nicholas Taleb) as your guide. Unfortunately, no one seems to have told this to Kevin Turner, ex-Microsoft COO and now ex-CEO of Citadel Securities, the market making arm of Ken Griffin’s $25bn global multi-strategy hedge fund.
Turner left Citadel after just five months at the end of last week. His departure was described by Citadel as “amicable,” although no one yet knows what he’s doing next. Bloomberg‘s portrayal of Turner’s 150 day stint as Citadel Securities CEO suggests the departing executive developed some interesting ideas about management and borrowed heavily from self-help publications. “Good to Great” was reportedly a pre-Citadel favorite, along with “The Soul of Leadership: Unlocking Your Potential for Greatness” and “The New Psychology of Success.” Such was Turner’s hunger for the wisdom, that Bloomberg says he read these tomes faster than Amazon prime could deliver them. Within 100 days of Turner’s arrival, copies of ‘The New Psychology of Success’ were distributed to all Citadel Securities’ senior management.
As a self-described “lethal auditor,” Turner spent also his time at Citadel developing and implementing a “common definition of success” by which to gauge the performance of the firm’s employees. It’s not clear how well received this was by Citadel’s traders, many of whom would likely argue that they already have a common definition of success – P&L. Either way, Turner is now out. His replacement, Peng Zhao, has worked at the firm since 2006 and is steeped in the firm’s quantitative culture. It takes a trader to manage a trader. Ex-finance professionals might be able to move to tech firms, but the opposite move doesn’t always apply.
Separately, beware hedge fund application processes. Specifically, beware the application process at London-based GSA Capital, where the partner responsible for recruitment tells Financial News he sometimes speaks to 1,500 candidates a year and hires none of them. Equally, the graduate recruitment process at hedge fund Systematica Investments doesn’t sound the most pleasurable experience: candidates are asked to complete a complex coding test which can take two to three days, followed by four one hour video interviews, followed by an eight hour assessment in either London or Geneva where you’ll have to solve further maths problems and go through further coding tests…
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