GSA Capital that bad

What is your opinion and experience with GSA Capital? Where would you rate them relative to other hedge funds?

I had an interview with them and I'm absolutely shocked by the people I met. First, all apart from one were totally antisocial. One fidgeted each time I looked at him. Another would not look me in the eyes during the whole conversation unless I looked away from him - the only time I saw in my peripheral vision he looked at me. The most senior person I met was an equities expert who is now trading options which seemed to be above his head - I had to explain to him a concept he'd never heard of before.

All of them, barely interviewed me and were basically just trying to find out details of how we did things at my current employer. When I asked them how they did things they were reserved but from what they said, I wasn't impressed. At one interview with one guy, at some point I though we should probably talk about a consultation fee if we are to continue considering the time went in him telling me how they do stuff and me telling him why they shouldn't do it this way.

What really put me off was that I left with the impression that this is an office where if one was to make a joke, either nobody would laugh or you'll end up with an HR case. I've always held GSA capital in high regard but when I think about it, this high regard is really based on nothing more than them being the first hedge fund that approached me out of uni. I've also heard similar stories from colleagues including one who walked out of a shambolic interview and another one who was asked a question which the interviewer got wrong himself.

Is GSA that bad? Are they doing well past few years? They looked a bit desperate to find out how to do stuff but I've always thought they are a great fund.

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Comments (64)

  • Quant in HF - Other
Mar 16, 2020 - 5:04pm

What I know about GSA is: they had a department which traded FX. This department is now called XTX Markets. Performance of GSA less XTX is almost vanilla from what I heard.

  • Analyst 3+ in HF - EquityHedge
Mar 16, 2020 - 10:30pm

Didn't realize XTX was part of GSA. They are a market maker in forex tho right? Apprently they have been very aggressive in taking market share and flow last couple of years.

  • Quant in HF - Other
Mar 17, 2020 - 7:20am

Nowadays they trade much more diverse products than FX. But AFAIK it all started with FX. Actually, it was easy to realize -- just look at LinkedIn of their CEO Alex -- he started in DB out of PhD, then moved to GSA to run HFT group and then morphed this group into XTX markets.

Mar 16, 2020 - 5:17pm

Smart shop (I know some people there), but given the Citadel fiasco..its reputation has not been so great.
Sounds like a typical prop/quant interview where they just try to figure out a competitor's strategies

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Mar 16, 2020 - 5:25pm

yeah, it seems to be great for people coming out of phd programs or banks.
But otherwise, not worth the lawsuit haha

  • Analyst 3+ in HF - EquityHedge
Mar 16, 2020 - 10:31pm

What was the citadel fiasco? Are you referring to the lawsuit on one of the senior traders? When I read that I couldn't believe how stupid it was. Also smacked of desperation.

  • Analyst 3+ in HF - EquityHedge
Mar 16, 2020 - 10:29pm

Had interview with them too. Blanket online test mostly focused on stats / ML. Frankly they did not impress me much either. I think a lot of these MMs are trying to copy Citadel's model.

Also had similar experiences with Engineer's Gate, Squarepoint. These shops are only as good as the teams they have there. Which in turn is a function of how attractive their contract is. If you are a good PM why would you choose to go to a smaller shop over Citadel or Millennium that gives you a higher cut of PnL?

As for the social aspects, very similar experiences but with other teams at other shops too. I think a lot of PMs that don't end up building large teams have very poor social skills. Also its a huge red flag, it means they are bad managers, poor at team-building, and are very short-term focused and looking at you for what strategies you can bring online as fast as possible.

  • Quant in HF - EquityHedge
Jun 29, 2020 - 11:04am

Squarepoint in my circle is notorious for interviewing to dig info and strategies. It was the only place I interviewed with that did not bother putting me through a technical test. Should have raised an alarm.

  • Quant in HF - Other
Oct 10, 2020 - 8:57am

If you are a good PM why would you choose to go to a smaller shop over Citadel or Millennium that gives you a higher cut of PnL?

What would you choose -- have a higher payout on a relatively bad platform, or a slightly worse payout on a high-end platform? The idea is that the second option could earn you much more money. Also, there are certain type of strategies to be fit for each platform. I am not sure Citadel would be so interested in a 100M strategy with relatively high Sharpe, while the "smaller" platforms like GSA, Tower, Jump would be. 

Mar 17, 2020 - 11:08am

I've seen this type of interview multiple times at other firms. If a small shop is constantly posting jobs and interviewing people, it's a sign that they are fishing for strategy ideas. Even if you get hired in these places, there is a decent chance that they will have you write strategy code and kick you out after the code is checked in, and you have to go in expecting that. A small firm that is actually performing well should not need to be interviewing or hiring often, if at all.

  • Quant in HF - Other
Mar 17, 2020 - 1:49pm

> to tell people enough information to know you got an edge and you know how to build models but at the same time they cannot do it without you. This skill itself is essential to the survival of this industry.

This is so true unfortunately.

Mar 17, 2020 - 5:17pm

1. Does not surprise me. You are interviewing with quants/maths/ML people and should keep that in mind. They are not there to make friends, and certainly wasn't hired because they are the most pleasant conversationalist. So you shouldn't judge them based on that.

I disagree with you on this one. Nobody wants to work with antisocial types or in an antisocial environment and there are few businesses where such people are useful. In any case, I disagree that maths/engineering/physics background implies poor social skills or that if you come from a quantitative background you shouldn't be expected to have good social skills. Good firms attract the people with both good professional skills and good social skills. If you're lacking in one department, you settle for lesser firm.

Anyway, the rest I fully agree with.

Jun 29, 2020 - 7:51am

Yeah I disagree too. The best folks in quant fields, academic or otherwise, know that to build anything of value you need to collaborate and scale collaboration.

My feeling is that when you see a firm showing signs of sickness at the interview process, there is something deeper going on.

Successful and good firms will leave you feeling good even if you don't get the job, don't want the job. They are selling and they have pride. I've spoken to Goldman many times for example and never ended up there (turned them down, they turn me down or something else) and always felt it involved great conversations. Same with a lot of hedge funds and quant firms.

  • Analyst 3+ in HF - EquityHedge
Mar 17, 2020 - 8:56pm

Even telling them enough so that they need you is not enough, they can always hire and fire once you've coded up the strategy.

Mar 21, 2020 - 3:35pm

I once talked to them and had a very good impression. Clever people who seem to know what they are doing.

From what I read the whole citadel lawsuit seems to be ridiculous. Of course they need to know something about the strategy you are proposing to run. I can guarantee you that every serious firm, including Citadel, will ask some details about this when they interview experienced hires. It is up to the interviewee to decide how much to tell them and of course if you are worth the money they are going to pay you, you know how to convince people in an interview that you know what you are talking about without enabling them to copy your strategy in a few weeks.

My impression of the firm and the people I know there is that this is one of the top places in London

  • 1
  • Quant in HF - Other
Jun 29, 2020 - 10:37am

What do you mean by "recent loss"? Difficult to find public information about their performance, but from what I have heard performance of the two flagship funds was decent over the last five years. It seems they were down 2018, but in line with most quant funds as this was in general a horrible year for the industry. They have some low fee "smart beta" products, so AUM might have dropped due to redemptions here.

No idea about 2020 performance. If anyone knows about this, I'd be interested...

Jun 29, 2020 - 7:48am

Thanks for sharing this. I am getting a bad small about them. Maybe not quite fraudulent but something definitely seems off on the way they represent themselves and run their hiring ops. Aware winning is a weird thing to advertise. They seem to have had some serious losses in the past too.

GResearch is known for pretty low-commitment hiring (kind of a sweat shop style entry exam) but they have none of that bad smell and I think generally are collegial and friendly.

  • Analyst 3+ in HF - EquityHedge
Jun 29, 2020 - 9:40am

G research in UK?

Their hiring is definitely not low commitment. You have to sit a 3h exam at a designated location.

Also they are very siloed and have a weird structure where the strategies are run on some island and is separate from their research unit.

No idea about performance recently either

  • Quant in HF - Other
Jun 29, 2020 - 10:47am

I am a bit surprised about the comments here. I interviewed with them some time ago and had a very positive impression. Only reason why I didn't move there was that my employer promoted me while I was in the process with GSA and therefore it would not have been a good time for me to change. Actually had good conversations during the interviews and found the majority of people there easy to talk to (of course there are always one or two people with whom you can't connect that well). Sure, they ask about your strategies, because in the end this is the only way in which you can differentiate yourself as a senior hire. I told them clearly what I could tell them and what not and they were fine with this. There are other well known places that I found way more pushy in terms of asking me to disclose information.

They seem quite innovative and serious about talent. Also it seems they can attract people from top tier places like Citadel, so pay and incentive packages must be competitive.

Don;t know about recent performance though

Aug 5, 2020 - 3:47pm

+1 to 'There is something Off with GSA Capital'

They do have some smart PM's working there but at the management/partner level something is definitely wrong - they give off an unprofessional/not-on-point vibe that is not consistent with the level of the PMs they have. Also note that I have heard from more than one person they have been known to do things that are flat out unethical/disingenuous (more than the usual hedge fund) so proceed with caution. And I am not talking about the Citadel fiasco either.

Note that yes Alex Gerko used to work there but since he left their overall volumes are way down...

I would steer away from them unless you have a team of ten of the best employment attorneys that money can buy...and even then its not worth it.

Aug 6, 2020 - 4:45pm

not sure what all this GSA bashing is about. I talked to several of their partners and top management and they are far from unprofessional. In general the place seemed pretty well organised and they are definitely quite innovative. I also talked to some people who left the firm and while of course everyone who leaves has some individual issues the general tone was positive.
This was in the course of evaluating an offer, by the way, so I did not take my research lightly. I ended up not taking the offer, because the firm I worked for promoted me into a very attractive role, but very likely would have taken it otherwise.
There are places that are very aggressive to leavers in terms of legal threats etc. but from what I have heard GSA is not one of them. Statements like "not worth the lawsuit" or "have your employment lawyers ready" don't sound like they are backed up by any actual facts.

Aug 7, 2020 - 9:11am

Haha...sure man. Whatever you say.

The lawsuit of Citadel suing GSA Capital is not a "fact" ??

Aug 7, 2020 - 9:43am

they are getting sued for standard practices in interviewing potential PMs, from what it seems. I interviewed at a few places and of course you need to disclose something about the strats you want to run. It is always up to you to decide how much you want to tell them.
By the way, Citadel got countersued by GSA for having interviewed one of their employees pretty much the same way.

Aug 7, 2020 - 12:40pm

Standard Practice is for a hf to encourage the use of WhatsApp to hide plans??

Strongly disagree. Yes, the hf industry can be shady and some hiring practices can be on the aggressive side, but encouraging the use of WhatsApp, even in the Quant space, is certainly not "standard practice"

Further, I can think of several prominent hfs that have overstaffed their compliance departments so much that they bend over backwards to make sure new hires/candidates would not do this type of thing. At the very least they certainly would not encourage it or be complicit in it like GSA Capital was.

Feb 8, 2021 - 12:05pm


Whatsapp uses end-to-end encryption.  So by definition it is not "standard communication software".  Unencrypted platforms could arguably be called "standard communication software."

Generally when people want private communication they used encyrpted messaging platforms.  The use of such is not proof of ill intent, yes, but it also not standard communication when the issue is sending protected IP and source code etc...

Feb 10, 2021 - 9:32am

Sure man whatever you say.

"And then Cologlu handed over a plan that Citadel argues was based on its own confidential model, including the way the algorithm made predictions."

"In May 2019, GSA's head of recruitment Douglas Ward emailed a junior employee saying that the job interview questions be "Kept off e-mail."

But you are totally right man - GSA Capital has a super awesome reputation on the street.   Not.

Feb 11, 2021 - 5:31pm

I interviewed with their NY office early last year. I spoke to two people, had some fun conversations and overall I thought things were very professional. They didn't make me an offer, but the were polite and responsive. Perhaps things are different in London, just my 2c.

Mar 25, 2021 - 11:12am

I had an interview with a pm (Yassine Matmoura) for a quant position at GSA in London. Basically the whole interview was about to get my strategies. He asks every step in details and when you say that you cannot tell more, he keeps begging. It looked pathetic. No technical question at all. 

I told a good part of the story without providing the most important ingredients without which he would not manage to cook the pie. I think I should have said even less. When I asked broad questions about his strats, he got very closed and just repeated his intro that he runs macro strats.

The whole interview I had a feeling that there was no professional interest in me, it was all about getting as much information as possible.

Jul 10, 2021 - 10:01pm

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