Point72 Asset Management made headlines in 2015 when it launched its own school of sorts – a nearly year-long paid training program aimed at molding college graduates into investment professionals with the hope of bringing them on full-time, if they impress. The first program of its kind, Point72 Academy was met with some initial skepticism. Traditionally, hedge funds fill their analyst classes with former sell-side bankers that come pre-trained, usually with at least two years of experience under their belt. “At the time, even we didn’t know if it was going to work,” said Jaimi Goodfriend, director of Point72 Academy.
Fast-forward three years and Point72 is increasing its position in the academy – adding more classes, more seats and expanding the program internationally. Goodfriend attributed the planned expansion of the academy and the summer internship program that has become its main feeder for talent to the success of recent graduates. She said that 33 of the 35 people who have been hired from the academy since 2015 remain at the firm, representing a much higher retention rate than non-academy hires.
Beginning in 2019, Point72 Academy will run three different classes for its 10-month program, with anticipated starting dates of April 29, July 15 and October 7. The move will increase the number of available seats to around 45, up from 10 in 2015 when it only ran one class, with seven graduating to full-time positions. Goodfriend expects more than half of the firm’s roughly 60 annual analyst hires to come from the academy moving forward.
Point72 Academy is also looking to increase the diversity of experience within its classes. In 2017, the program began accepting a small number of candidates who had some professional experience. This “young professionals group" was trained separately from the undergrad students. Come 2019, the two groups will be mixed together with the idea of creating additional learning opportunities, according to Goodfriend, a former hedge fund analyst and professor.
Back to school
In the very beginning, the academy is much more a school than an internship. The first few months are literally spent in a classroom learning all the fundamentals necessary for a career on the buy-side: accounting, financial modeling, business operations and data analysis, among others. During the second part of the program, students are taught how to leverage those skills to research companies and stocks. In addition to learning from Goodfriend and her staff, students will hear from current Point72 investment pros as well as subject matter experts from business schools like Wharton and Harvard. The final third of the program is more hands-on, with students rotating across desks of portfolio managers with the hope of finding a match.
The top 1%
If you want to attend the academy, you’re likely to face some stiff competition. In 2015, Point72 received around 400 applications for the program. That number increased to roughly 12k this year, meaning well less than 1% make the final cut.
The hedge fund formerly known as SAC Capital is also keen on bringing people into the academy through its 10-week summer internship program, which is expanding across the firm's Asian office locations in 2019. Excluding the young professionals group, the academy “almost exclusively” hires undergrads from its internship program, according to Goodfriend, who said the firm has never been turned down by an intern in the four-year history of the program.
One item of note for those who are interested: brush up on your accounting skills. “For some reason, some really smart, intellectually-curious people look at accounting and can’t get over it,” said Goodfriend. “It tends to separate the wheat from the chaff.”
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