It’s not easy to find exceptional 20-somethings to join a hedge fund nowadays. Admittedly, Steve Cohen’s Point72 isn’t strictly a hedge fund (it’s a family office managing Cohen’s own money), but it suffers from this problem all the same. Last year Cohen publicly bemoaned the lack of decent talent. Since then, Point72 has ramped-up a machine-learning program to try automating trading decisions, while its Academy – which trains up its juniors, has set about attracting more fish into its hiring pond.
The Academy wants more women. It’s just launched a $20k scholarship for women in the sophomore year of U.S. university courses. Female students have until October 20th to apply and must do so alongside an application for Point72’s New York City summer intern program.
Jonathan Jones, Point72’s head of investment talent development, says the applicant pool for the Academy has typically been 70% to 75% male, and the fund wanted to do something about it.”Our objective is to be the destination of choice for the brightest talent in the industry,” says Jones. “It was important for us to seek to expand our appeal to women specifically. You could argue that one of the afflictions our industry has in general is sameness or group-think: too many people of similar backgrounds.”
Ultimately, Jones says the Academy wouldn’t mind having 50% of its Academy recruits as women (rather like Evercore’s UK analyst program). However, he admits it’s not easy to find this proportion of women in hedge funds’ traditionally preferred academic disciplines of finance, economics, mathematics and computer sciences, which tend to skew towards men. For this reason, Jones says the Academy is also focused on hiring people from liberal arts backgrounds.
Liberal arts students aren’t typical hedge fund applicants, particularly when the hedge fund in question has seemingly been going all out to hire quants and specialists in machine learning. But Jones says it’s wrong to assume that a liberal arts degree is no preparation for an investing career. “We already have people with backgrounds in history or music. Our natural applicant pool skews towards finance, but Jami Goodfriend – who runs the Academy, has a particular preference for people from a history background. She believes they have a better ability to understand the overall story that accompanies the numbers on a spreadsheet.”
Needless to say, Point72 isn’t just keen to hire female historians. Male historians can apply too.
It seems fair to wonder why the fund wants more women and liberal artists to apply. It already has far more applicants than it can handle: there were 1,500 applications for around five places in Europe last year. It’s all about diversity, says Jones: “The best teams are comprised of a diverse set of members. We perceive that difference makes a difference.”