Hedge fund vs. Big Bank offer for quantitative finance internship

Hello - I am facing a decision for where I would like to accept a Summer internship (summer before senior year), and am not sure what is best for me in terms of a career development perspective. I am a Computer Science major looking towards quant finance, and am deciding between Balyasny Asset Management, and Morgan Stanley.

The BAM offer is a Long/Short Equities internship on a Quant team working closely with a Portfolio Manager who is also a Partner. Rather than being a project based internship, this program would have me operating as a member of the team getting hands on experience.

The Morgan Stanley Offer is for the Cross Desk Strategies team in the Quantitative Finance division (which I believe is in the Fixed income dept.), and is more of a traditional internship as you would expect at a big bank.

While the prestige of MS as well as the prospects of their education program are alluring, I also think that skipping banking and getting straight into a Hedge fund is a great opportunity, especially if it means getting hands on experience working closely with the team and PM.

Please also keep in mind that I do not have prior experience in Finance, and that it is possible I will decide that Finance is not for me and recruit elsewhere next year for full time. Any advice is much appreciated!

Comments (12)

Nov 29, 2021 - 1:01pm

I have heard that the Quant Finance Fixed Income dept. is not that good at MS, but I am not really sure how true that is. Aside from that, isn't it very difficult to get internships at large Hedge Funds? I don't want to pass up a big opportunity

Most Helpful
Nov 29, 2021 - 7:28pm

I'll dissent with the above and instead say you should be leaning strongly towards Balyasny on this one, conditional on a few factors:

  • The internship is in a research role within a quant pod (ie not fund level / performance reporting or analysis / etc)
  • You enjoyed your conversations with the existing team at Baly and they understand there will be training needed / a ramp up (and have expressed a willingness to train

In my experience, Banks are not a good place to start out as a quant anymore outside of a few very specific seats - We've gotten to a point in time where banks are second rate at best in every area of the quant "stack". They cant market make liquid products as well as the prop guys, cant execute as well as the HFTs, and and cant produce alpha as well as the slower quant managers. While you do get a household name, it's not going to be as impactful in the quant space as being in a true skin in the game seat

You will get looks from plenty quant finance seats if you have a research internship (assuming an offer is not received) should you want to stay in finance, and frankly better experience should you decide to go elsewhere. Velocity of ideas / executing on them is slow at banks now, and as a result you will likely complete much more work at the Fund -> more to talk about in future interviews.

My 2c.

"one for the money two for the better green 3 4-methylenedioxymethamphetamine" - M.F. Doom

  • 9
Dec 2, 2021 - 11:15am

I agree with all of Undercover Meme's points. Another reason to go with BAM is that Balyasny is currently investing a lot in building up their quant business. There are a lot of advantages to being in a place with a lot of growth.

Dec 2, 2021 - 6:01pm

Hard to say, it really depends on the particular pod and your interests/skills. I don't know much about Schonfeld but I know BAM does some alpha capture and that they recently hired someone to build up their NLP capabilities.

I think the best way to compare the offers is to ask them about what they do and how you could contribute. If you can tactfully probe their recent performance that would also be good to know.

Dec 2, 2021 - 7:45pm

I would seriously entertain schonfeld - its a name I dont hear enough on here. From a quant POV, I know for a fact they take care of their quant pods very well, and have a rep for being more "patient" with different teams when things dont look great. 

Also, schonfeld is much closer to a "quant first" firm than a "Equity L/S firm" like baly is.

"one for the money two for the better green 3 4-methylenedioxymethamphetamine" - M.F. Doom

  • 2
Dec 21, 2021 - 8:26am

Schonfeld is another great firm; I wouldn't say that one is definitively better than the offer (at least for an internship) so I'd go with whichever team you felt more comfortable with.

Just remember: it's not a lie if you believe it.

Dec 20, 2021 - 2:44pm

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