Mod note: This comment was in response to this thread: Best Entry Level Job for Running Future Hedge Fund
Wait...you think b-school is going to teach you 'in depth modelling skills'? B-school teaches you advanced undergraduate-level finance. It does the same for marketing, accounting, organizational behavior, etc. It definitely does not teach you advanced modelling skills that are beyond what you're going to learn on a desk.
If you're a sales professional within S&T, maybe b-school adds some quantitative skills you wouldn't have picked up on the job. But so would the CFA. If you want to run your own fund, I'd say the best background is in research, not S&T.
Historically, there were but a few paths to becoming a portfolio manager. Firstly, you could start within S&T (as a trader, not as a salesman), move from a market-making desk to a prop desk, and then take your track record with you to the buy-side. Or, you could start as a trader, move to a small hedge fund or asset manager, convince them to let you run a small portfolio, and take your track record with you to a larger fund (or use it to start your own fund). Or, you could start within the portfoilio management group at a large asset manager and work your way up, eventually having P&L responsibility on a fund of your own. And finally, you can start in research (on either the buy-side or the sell-side), publish your ideas, run a shadow portfolio based on those ideas, keep track of your own performance, and parlay your track record into a junior portfolio manager position on the buy-side.
There are ups and downs to all of the paths. There are definitely more entry-level trader and research positions than there are entry-level. If you're taken onto the buy-side immediately, you're going to be doing more menial work than your peers on the sell-side. You will not be running a portfolio or making any decisions within JPMAM, , , or for several years. You're going to start out doing portfolio attributions, portfolio construction, and (maybe) some cash management. On the other hand, you don't have to leave your team or find a new job to eventually run money yourself. It's a slower (but safer) path.
Prop desks are largely dead now. Dodd-Frank killed them or molded them into something entirely different. You're not going to be sitting on a Goldman prop desk any time soon. That doesn't mean you cannot take proprietary risk as a market-maker. But how do you capture that? How can you prove your Sharpe Ratio?? Your ? It's going to be difficult. And there is a real difference between understanding liquidity constraints in the market, managing flow, and taking real proprietary risk based on solid fundamental or technical research.
That's why I suggest the following: start in S&T as a trader. Try to rotate onto a couple of different desks in your first two years. Learn the business as fast as you can. And then, transition to research. Specifically, aim to become a 'desk strategist,' whose responsibility is to create fundamental or technicalideas for the desk on which they sit. Be a good strategist, and circulate your research amongst traders on several different desks. Make your salesmen aware of your ideas. Have them promote your thoughts to their clients. Have them introduce you to their clients, and you might find yourself on the buy-side sooner than you think.
That would be the ideal background for a macro PM. For an equity long-short PM, research is better than trading. If you're going to learn trading, though, be sure to sit on both the long and the short desks. Learn how to fund yourself. Stock lending is the more esoteric field. Pretty much everyone knows how to buy stocks. Did you notice how you never mentioned a cash equity trader becoming a PM? That's because they're not stock-pickers, and that's what is required of a long-short manager. Research requires that skill set. So does strategy.
Everyone focuses on S&T because Goldman's traders made a fortune leading into the crisis. Is that going to continue? Perhaps at some banks, but not all. The real money in finance is to be made on the buy-side, but only if you're a competent risk-taker. If your skills are 'hand-shaking' skills, be a salesman. That's what all partners at consultancies and law firms are. That's what all MDs in IBDs are. That's what capital raisers within PE funds or hedge funds are. You can make a lot of money as a salesman if you're good at it, so don't disdain the profession because you simply do not understand it.
It took me longer than I would have liked to learn these things. No one told them to me in any case, so don't get so fixated on a particular field. It's not really possible to plan 5-10 years out. Not really. Think of what you'll do for the next 3 years, no more. Your life changes a lot between 20 and 30. Be open to what comes to you, position yourself for success, and see what happens. That's all you can really do.