Hedge Funds - the Australian POV (uni student)


Hi WSO and thanks for taking the time for reading my first post.

There aren't too many posts on here about Australians looking for HF careers and it's no surprise. In my city the scene for HFs is close to nonexistent and there is virtually no word of them at all at universities around here or in my financial services job.

The thought of active management makes the lecturers' skin crawl and many students are subsequently dissuaded from potential careers in active management.

From what I can gather, the most common career path into HFs globally appears to be via IB. Though as mentioned above, this isn't really talked about in Australia - at least the major city where I'm from.

Q1: Are there any other practical career path options or well-known, trodden paths for an Australian soon coming out of uni - without any internships - aiming towards HFs?

Q2: For the WSO veterans, those currently working at a HF overseas, or those who know a guy who knows a guy...at a HF: How would you plan a HF career progression from the Australian POV?

Q3: Should I also be look at applying overseas before I graduate? I've looked a little bit into this idea but don't know where to start overseas since the scope is enormous and I would be competing with the best uni students other countries - with populations much larger than Australia - have to offer.

Thank you for taking the time to read my post and your shared insights are appreciated.

Comments (7)

Aug 9, 2018 - 11:57am

AussieChimp, pure crickets, that's where I come in. Any of these useful?

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  • More suggestions...

Or maybe the following WSO members have something to say: YungValue Cat0987 @F. Ro Jo"

Hope that helps.

Aug 14, 2018 - 1:05am

Hey mate.

From the way your post is written, I'm assuming you're in Brisbane? If so, QIC is the only major player I’m aware of.


I’ve never lived or worked in the USA, so I’m not sure if it is a cultural difference or just the internet being misleading, but there are no “pathways” in the Australian market. There is no concept of “do IB for 2 years, then do MBA, then do this”, etc. Most people do a job, do it well, and then find an opportunity - rinse and repeat. Obviously you need prior experience before you can move up the chain, but my point is it is significantly less formulated than the internet will have you believe. The truth is, a lot of it is who you know, and just being in the right place at the right time.

The chance of getting a job overseas will be near impossible. From the funds perspective, they have to sponsor your Visa, so you are already way more costly and annoying to them. Beyond this, group of 8 means little when you are competing with top American Ivy students. You would have to be seriously impressive to break this barrier, otherwise you add no value over a domestic candidate.

If you want to work in the USA, dominate here then move across. You Australian experience will trade at a discount, but it’s possible.

As someone that once fell victim to the same trap, my advice is to focus on the next step – not 8 steps ahead. Get the best possible job you can in Australia and kick-ass at it. If it isn’t want you wanted, who cares, its the best option you have. Drop the grandiose expectations, work hard, and build a network. I know people who haven’t gone to uni, and are making mid 6 figures at insto with the big 4 just from doing well (9-5 hours keep in mind, this isn’t drowning themselves with work). I also know people with law/commerce duals from G08 unis with near perfect grades, stuck in a low-tier and dead-end role.

Hope that wasn’t too preachy, you just remind me of myself at that stage of my life.

Aug 14, 2018 - 5:25am

Thanks for your response. My initial post gave much more context where much of what you've said corroborates with my suspicions; however, I edited all my context out while impatiently waiting for a first response. I was scared nobody would reply so I edited it bit by bit until it became as bare bones as it is now.

About the US opportunities I agree about all the aspects you mentioned. With the IB path, perhaps MBA, then HF, also didn't seem so fleshed out here. With trying to get an entry role on the buy side and excelling at it, then taking it one step at a time; this seems like the best way to go.

You've taken a lot of time to respond to my post, lived through it and I thank you for your quality response. It's been great to hear some perspective when I've found it hard to come by.

Most Helpful
Aug 14, 2018 - 6:05am

I understand that this is WSO so I'll skip the bitching about working in high finance and why it is sooo pointless.

To OP, it is near impossible to be working in the US at a top BB due to the level of competition there is out there, and you're not going to get sponsored. If you do want to work internationally, opt for Singapore/HK in CF roles.

Also, why do you want to work at a HF? A lot of university students make the mistake of planning their lives ahead so much, following the standard career progression but not even knowing what it is like to work in finance. Typically though, IB --> ER --> HF or S&T/Prop --> ER --> HF. Australia doesn't have a strong HF exposure.

I recommend you to get more experience in finance, network with industry professionals worldwide, and then make a decision on whether you wish to aim for a role at a HF.

Aug 15, 2018 - 8:50am

I've worked on the sell-side longer than I've been at university and I don't see myself staying in this side of finance. From the mutual fund PMs I've met through work, they've helped pique my interest in financial markets, appreciation for investment theses and appreciation for the coordination of good/great funds.

Why then work at a hedge fund?

There are multiple qualities I like about L/S equity and market neutral strategies.
Having the ability to short allows for more interesting strategies and opens up more opportunities than not having that option at a mutual fund. In contrast, mutual funds are more dependent on market cycles to generate returns than HFs.
I've networked with many people from mutual funds through work and although it doesn't confirm my belief about wanting to work for the buy-side as much as working there would, I see HFs as potentially the more challenging and interesting place I want to be.
Singapore and Hong Kong are closer to the Australian timezone which is a good thing.

I haven't put much thought into working in Corporate Finance because the buy-side has appealed to me for years through work and (speaking without CF experience) I don't think the roles would adjust to the business cycle / market cycles with the same flexibility as a HF can. I have seen HFs struggling in recent years though that doesn't deter me.

Aug 15, 2018 - 7:14pm

I am from Australia, personally have seen a lot of graduates gunning for graduate positions in Singapore/Hong Kong/Shanghai. Good luck to you, if you have more experience working in finance than studying at university (must be connections), then you're already standing out from the rest of the crowd in an unique way.

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