1/9/13

Andy note: Here's the final installment of the 3-part interview series with SirTradesaLot. See Part 1, Part 2.

Bio: He has worked in the finance industry for almost 15 years in a variety of roles at global investment banks and asset managers. A few years ago, he left a senior management position in the equities division of a large asset manager to start a hedge fund/asset management firm with former colleagues.

Becoming the "Boss"...
If you have a goal of managing a team or moving into senior management, there are steps you can take to increase your odds. Many people think that you need to be given a formal leadership position before you can start managing or leading people. I think most people have that backwards.

You start training, mentoring, and guiding other people on the team and senior management will start giving you more and more management responsibilities. If you do a good job, you will be given more management responsibilities and will start managing progressively larger teams.

Easiest ways to get managerial responsibilities
In my opinion, the easiest way to get the first managerial position is to be a technical expert in your field and be willing to share your knowledge. Most people starting out in their career value their potential to learn more than anything else (the" learn in your twenties to earn in your thirties" mantra).

Another way to garner more managerial responsibilities, is to become involved in recruiting, both for experienced and inexperienced hires. Volunteering for things like on-campus recruiting, will allow you to hone your interviewing skills. If you can build a reputation for selecting and retaining the best people, you can imagine that senior management will likely give you more responsibilities in this area. Once you bring someone in to the firm, it's natural that they will seek you out for guidance and training. If you aren't their boss initially, you at least set yourself up to be in the future.

If people can learn from you and you take their input, people will gladly follow you. However, taking the input of the team is very difficult for many people to do. I'm sure many of you have had bosses that have taken your work product and tweaked it in a way that made no substantive difference to the final product. When that happens, most people significantly decrease their commitment to the product/project. In other words, the boss has increased the value of the product by 1% and reduced the team's commitment to it by 50% by undermining the team's efforts. Good luck with getting the most out of your employees on the next project. They're going to half ass it, knowing that you are going to make significant changes to whatever they do.

Fair Treatment
Good managers do not treat people equally, in the sense that everybody takes a proportional share of each portion of the workload. Good managers dole out assignments fairly, but give people things in which they have a comparative advantage. People will naturally have different abilities and some people will simply be more effective than others. You need to make sure you maximize the team output and reward the top performers, take your chances with the average performers, and let the laggards know they are laggards. Once you get the managerial responsibility, your job is to make sure your team is fully engaged by challenging each team member and giving them responsibilities that play to their strengths.

Feedback
I am a big fan of immediate feedback. Nobody should be wondering if they are doing a good job or how their year end discussion will go. If someone is killing it, you need to tell them they are doing a great job and specifically what you like about what they are doing, so they know to keep doing those specific actions.

If someone is performing poorly, you need to figure out what is wrong. Don't start off with accusations. People are usually pretty receptive to feedback. Often times, they don't know they're doing something wrong, or you have done a poor job of communicating what the goals are and what their role is in achieving them. If you determine that they understand all of that, but they just aren't cutting it, you need to tell them what they are doing wrong, what your expectations are going forward, and if the problems persist, what the ramifications will be for not improving (i.e. -- prepare to get nuked). The important thing is that you are measuring output, not input. One time I had a problem employee who was telling me they were the first one in and the last one out every day. My response: "Why is it that you are getting the least amount done?"

Often, it sucks to be the "Boss"
If you really want to be the boss, you need to be prepared to fire people and tell them they are not doing a good job. You also need to be prepared to give people disappointing bonuses even though they did a great job. None of these things are fun, trust me. You also need to be willing to go to battle with those above you to make sure your team is getting treated fairly for things like compensation and promotions. Managing people can be both very rewarding and very painful. You should figure out if it's something you truly want to do and position your career accordingly. There are a lot of ways to make money on Wall Street without managing people, should you choose to do so.

Comments (31)

9/26/12

Good stuff, Sir. Not as easy as it sounds being "The Boss," is it?

Metal. Music. Life. www.headofmetal.com

9/26/12

Great post. You are absolutely right when write that you don't need a formal leadership position. If you assert yourself in the correct way and you are proficient at what you do then people will look to you for advice and help.

9/26/12

I don't know why, but whenever I'm on my laptop it always double posts. Sorry.

9/26/12

Best series on here at the moment. Thanks again.

"That dude is so haole, he don't even have any breath left."

9/26/12
FeelingMean:

Best series on here at the moment. Thanks again.

encore encore

WSO's COO (Chief Operating Orangutan) | My story | My Linkedin

PM me if you're traveling to Buenos Aires in 2016 (I live here) :-)

9/26/12

"I am a big fan of immediate feedback. Nobody should be wondering if they are doing a good job or how their year end discussion will go. If someone is killing it, you need to tell them they are doing a great job and specifically what you like about what they are doing, so they know to keep doing those specific actions."

I couldn't agree more. One of the best posts I've read on here.

9/26/12

Good job el hefe

9/26/12

Managing people can be both very rewarding and very painful. You should figure out if it's something you truly want to do and position your career accordingly. There are a lot of ways to make money on Wall Street without managing people, should you choose to do so.

That's the best conclusion you could have made to this ITW series. Very good job sir.

9/26/12

Excellent post, thank you!

Get busy living

9/26/12

For people that want to understand Wall Street culture and risk management culture in general I recommend you read How the Trading Floor Really Works by Terri Duhon

I was wondering if SirTrades could perhaps elaborate on their hiring, or more interesting, on their firing practices. In other worlds, how many times do you review performance in Asset Management. If monthly, say is it three strikes you're out kind of thing, how many times do you have to get it wrong and get fired.

"I like money (as do most females) but love is...great :)"-student
Is the Bull Chasing a Bear

9/26/12
Financier4Hire:

I was wondering if SirTrades could perhaps elaborate on their hiring, or more interesting, on their firing practices. In other worlds, how many times do you review performance in Asset Management. If monthly, say is it three strikes you're out kind of thing, how many times do you have to get it wrong and get fired.

Our portfolio management teams had a lot of autonomy. We would obviously review performance every day, but not with the teams. We would do that twice a year.

As for staff, feedback would be real time (as I mentioned previously) and we would have annual reviews shortly before bonus discussions. People who were problematic we're generally asked if they were clear about what expectations were of them, what was preventing them from meeting expectations, and how they planned on rectifying the situation. If all was clear, we would schedule a time to follow-up on progress. Some people improved dramatically and there was no need to change much from there. If some progress was being made, you generally got more time. If problems persisted, they were told they had X amount of time (usually a month) to improve or they would be asked to leave. Since we were dual registered, people would generally quit beforehand so as not to have a mark on their U4.

Then there were layoffs/restructurings, generally, you would get a call from upstairs and you would go into the office and you would be told you were being laid off or sent to another area of the firm.

Fun stuff.

9/26/12

How much you making, seriously, all in? PM me if you prefer.

9/26/12
Interest.ed:

How much you making, seriously, all in? PM me if you prefer.

Thanks for giving me the option to PM you...but I think I'll pass thanks.

9/27/12
SirTradesaLot:
Interest.ed:

How much you making, seriously, all in? PM me if you prefer.

Thanks for giving me the option to PM you...but I think I'll pass thanks.

I understand, I wouldn't want to broadcast that too if I am making what u making when I turn 35.

9/27/12

.

9/27/12

Great thread, thanks for the insight.

9/27/12
Interest.ed:
SirTradesaLot:
Interest.ed:

How much you making, seriously, all in? PM me if you prefer.

Thanks for giving me the option to PM you...but I think I'll pass thanks.

I understand, I wouldn't want to broadcast that too if I am making what u making when I turn 35.

The problem is, the thought of a bunch of college kids whacking off to a number they read on the Internet is just too much for me.

9/27/12
SirTradesaLot:
Interest.ed:
SirTradesaLot:
Interest.ed:

How much you making, seriously, all in? PM me if you prefer.

Thanks for giving me the option to PM you...but I think I'll pass thanks.

I understand, I wouldn't want to broadcast that too if I am making what u making when I turn 35.

The problem is, the thought of a bunch of college kids whacking off to a number they read on the Internet is just too much for me.

I'm sure you can send him a picture if that makes you feel better. haha, jk bro

1/10/13

Interest.ed:
How much you making, seriously, all in? PM me if you prefer.

Ha just saw this and it makes me chuckle.
Interest.ed, if you really really want to know, perhaps you can somehow find out the name of Sirtradesalot's firm, pull up their fund(s) performances, come up with a guesstimate of the profit shares of a managing partner for a team of that size (in points, out of 20 perhaps?) then do the arithmetic and BOOM, there is your answer right there.

Too late for second-guessing Too late to go back to sleep.

9/26/12

Great read, thanks Sir.

Under my tutelage, you will grow from boys to men. From men into gladiators. And from gladiators into SWANSONS.

9/26/12
SirTradesaLot:

Andy note: Here's the final installment of the 3-part interview series with SirTradesaLot. See Part 1, Part 2.

... Fair Treatment
Good managers do not treat people equally, in the sense that everybody takes a proportional share of each portion of the workload. Good managers dole out assignments fairly, but give people things in which they have a comparative advantage. People will naturally have different abilities and some people will simply be more effective than others. You need to make sure you maximize the team output and reward the top performers, take your chances with the average performers, and let the laggards know they are laggards. Once you get the managerial responsibility, your job is to make sure your team is fully engaged by challenging each team member and giving them responsibilities that play to their strengths.

Feedback
I am a big fan of immediate feedback. Nobody should be wondering if they are doing a good job or how their year end discussion will go. If someone is killing it, you need to tell them they are doing a great job and specifically what you like about what they are doing, so they know to keep doing those specific actions.

If someone is performing poorly, you need to figure out what is wrong. Don't start off with accusations. People are usually pretty receptive to feedback. Often times, they don't know they're doing something wrong, or you have done a poor job of communicating what the goals are and what their role is in achieving them. If you determine that they understand all of that, but they just aren't cutting it, you need to tell them what they are doing wrong, what your expectations are going forward, and if the problems persist, what the ramifications will be for not improving (i.e. -- prepare to get nuked). The important thing is that you are measuring output, not input. One time I had a problem employee who was telling me they were the first one in and the last one out every day. My response: "Why is it that you are getting the least amount done?"
....

Sooo much truth in this! I have found that people respect your honest/frank feedback if you have developed a rapport with them and they know you want what's best for them or the company.

9/27/12

Nice trilogy, well done, Sir!

I want to be fired...my boss depends on me too much!

The Auto Show

9/27/12

Appreciate the advices put down on this thread ST.

But this;

huanleshalemei:

Nice trilogy, well done, Sir!

I want to be fired...my boss depends on me too much!

?

Death is certain; Life aint.

1/9/13

Whats the headcount rangewise at your firm? Be interesting to note alongside everything you've told us. Thanks for the three part series.

Frank Sinatra - "Alcohol may be man's worst enemy, but the bible says love your enemy."

1/9/13

yeahright:
Whats the headcount rangewise at your firm? Be interesting to note alongside everything you've told us. Thanks for the three part series.

Current firm: less than 20 people

Previous Asset Mgt firm: 1,000 to 5,000 people (intentionally vague)

1/10/13

Thank you, SirTradesaLot, for sharing your experience with us. I understand that you graduated in the early 90s. A lot has changed and the world is changing faster than ever, do you think your advice is still applicable for us young people nowadays?

1/10/13

FreedayFF:
Thank you, SirTradesaLot, for sharing your experience with us. I understand that you graduated in the early 90s. A lot has changed and the world is changing faster than ever, do you think your advice is still applicable for us young people nowadays?

Mid to late '90's......I'm not that old. I graduated college about 15 years ago.

It depends on which advice you are referring to, I guess. When it comes to managing people, the basics will always stay the same: hire good people, measure output not input of employees, reward good performance, give real time feedback, etc. As time moves forward, certain things change, but those that do are not core principles.

The thing that always changes is the technical side of the business. Information is dispersing more rapidly and the competition is stronger. So, you have to evolve to stay on top of your game. It doesn't really matter if you're in sales, you're a PM, or you're in ops.....you need to be able to react faster than you did 10 years ago to be competitive.

I think I mentioned this in one of the interviews, but the competition for entry level spots is much higher than when I graduated. It's a double edged sword: there is more information out there to help you determine what kinds of roles may be of interest to you, but that information is available to anyone seeking it. So, the competition for 'good' jobs is intense (and it was considered pretty intense even back when I started). I certainly don't remember interview guides you had to learn to get a job, which seems par for the course now. I worry about how use of interview guides (and the like) increase the conformity of thought processes within this industry, but that's an entirely different topic.

To answer your question as directly as I can: Yes, I think my advice is still relevant for young people. Of course, it's my advice, so it's not surprising that I think it's relevant. Even if you think it's good advice, you have to tailor it to your circumstances and goals which may not be the same as mine (just like advice from anyone).

1/11/13

SirTradesaLot:

Easiest ways to get managerial responsibilities
...
If people can learn from you and you take their input, people will gladly follow you. However, taking the input of the team is very difficult for many people to do. I'm sure many of you have had bosses that have taken your work product and tweaked it in a way that made no substantive difference to the final product. When that happens, most people significantly decrease their commitment to the product/project. In other words, the boss has increased the value of the product by 1% and reduced the team's commitment to it by 50% by undermining the team's efforts. Good luck with getting the most out of your employees on the next project. They're going to half ass it, knowing that you are going to make significant changes to whatever they do.

This is honestly the reason I no longer try at work... leave before 7... and don't ask for projects anymore... I have dealt with dick head project managers go into the woods on tangents and change shit and make me spend 3 days on something just to look at it.. say they don't like it or pretend they never said it and change it back.. Then change it again.

At one point I had to print a diagram in 15 different colors and go around the office to see what everyone thought and which color scheme "looked the best"

I had another MD decide 20 minutes before he was leaving for a meeting after he signed off on a book and we made 20 copies and bound them... that he doesn't like our formatting and lay out and wants to change it...

End OF RANT:

I really wish I could print up all 3 parts of this interview and hand them to my MDs and Directors.. as a guidebook for how managers are supposed to act. In fact I may print this out and attach it to my resignation letter in a couple months

1/11/13

SirTradesaLot:

Feedback
I am a big fan of immediate feedback. Nobody should be wondering if they are doing a good job or how their year end discussion will go. If someone is killing it, you need to tell them they are doing a great job and specifically what you like about what they are doing, so they know to keep doing those specific actions.

If someone is performing poorly, you need to figure out what is wrong. Don't start off with accusations. People are usually pretty receptive to feedback. Often times, they don't know they're doing something wrong, or you have done a poor job of communicating what the goals are and what their role is in achieving them. If you determine that they understand all of that, but they just aren't cutting it, you need to tell them what they are doing wrong, what your expectations are going forward, and if the problems persist, what the ramifications will be for not improving (i.e. -- prepare to get nuked). The important thing is that you are measuring output, not input. One time I had a problem employee who was telling me they were the first one in and the last one out every day. My response: "Why is it that you are getting the least amount done?"

This also... haha. I have been an analyst for almost 2 years and have yet to have an actual review. I had an annual review which didn't even have my name mentioned in it and didn't tell me anything to work on nor did it say anything I did bad... merely that I worked there for a year.. when I asked about it I was told "you are doing okay" and when I asked what my strengths and weaknesses are they said "get better"

1/12/13
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