How many hours do you work?

How many yours do you work a week on average? I'm at a MM and average 75+ per week consistently (without really taking any time off for long weekends / vacation etc.) I like the job in general, but it's just not sustainable for me - is it crazy to think about moving to a different fund (i.e. single manager)? 

 

I don't think i'll be able to maintain this for more than a few years, but i don't want to switch and end up in the same position again. 

 

Would appreciate any thoughts 

 

Cheers 

Comments (56)

 
Sep 21, 2020 - 10:03pm

Not me, but one of my best friends is joining a new pod as a quant trader that's launching at a MM. Historically he averages ~80 hours a week and expects to sustain ~70-80 hours on average in this new gig. For reference his pod is credit focused and at least anecdotally I've heard that means longer hours than equities since you're not restricted by market hours.

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  • VP in HF - Macro
Sep 25, 2020 - 4:43am

Interesting. Do you know if he is fully systematic? Is it fast trading?  Not saying that the numbers are wrong, but it sounds a bit high for a quant trader. Could imagine this workload when building up the infrastructure,  but once systems are built and it is mostly maintenance  and researching new stuff should be less.

 
Sep 25, 2020 - 11:37am

If I'm being perfectly frank I do not understand everything he does. I don't believe he's fully systematic because he works on both execution and idea generation. When I asked him about it he says the easiest way to think of him is as a quant trader since he learned python and R to augment his workflows and his previous fund used various quantitative researcher-built models to screen and analyze ideas. I think the hours are more a factor of him being a workaholic than inherently part of the role to be honest, the dude wakes up at 5am to log into his bloomberg and reads reports before bed.

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Sep 22, 2020 - 10:31am

70hrs on the weekdays + 5-10 on the weekends on average for me.  I also haven't taken a vacation day in 2 years.  Had asked whether this was par for the course a bit back and it seems it's more of a cultural issue, plus some people here seem to think if you're a "star" then you shouldn't be afraid to take time off.

 

 
  • Analyst 1 in ER
Sep 22, 2020 - 10:56am

Do you work in the US or UK and are you at a MM? Is the lifestyle sustainable for you?

 
Sep 22, 2020 - 12:09pm

Totally, "Friday afternoon syndrome" is real. 

Follow me on Instagram: @dickthesellsider

 
Sep 22, 2020 - 1:24pm

Absolutely.

Lucky to have found a group that allows more junior employees to make their own judgement calls. Don't get me wrong there's been plenty of "well fuck we're grinding through the weekend" days, but more often than not it's "turn it to me for feedback by tomorrow / day after, etc".

Whether I do it at 10pm or 6am the next morning, push to weekend and have it sitting in inboxes by 8am Monday doesn't matter much. Culture is really a "if you get it done IDC how you get it done" mentality and I'm loving it.

 
Most Helpful
Sep 22, 2020 - 3:09pm

I firmly believe that if you're working an insane amount of hours in this industry to the point of  burn out, then you're not doing your job right and if anything signals to me that you're not following a repeatable investment process and won't last long.

There is no direct correlation between the hours you work and where the price of a stock goes. The whole point is to consistently run through ideas in a timely manner and leave sufficient time for those ideas to generate alpha before cycling through to a new one. If you're working 80+ hours plus weekends to diligence an idea than it is likely not a good one. 80% of the thesis is known within 20% of time. You should leverage Analysts or Associates to help with the remaining 80% that deals with nuance and smaller details.

I am not saying if you work insanely hard you won't perform well. I know many successful PMs who work 9-5 and others that work 7-7. Mileage obviously varies. But I absolutely disagree with the notion (held by many analysts/PM on the buyside) that you need to work extra hard and long to generate alpha. You need to revisit your investment process and methodology if the only way you can make money is by working 80+ hours a week.  

 

 
Sep 22, 2020 - 3:25pm

really depends on your investment time horizon...if you are actively trading the portfolio intraday....where the avg time horizon is measured in hours...then working (trading) more hours = more P&L.

 

If however your avg time horizon is days to weeks (or months).....then yeah...working more the 40-50 hours a week is a waste

 
Sep 22, 2020 - 3:53pm

I agree with you, but I am cognizant of the fact that a fair portion of monkeys on this platform work at MMs who don't subscribe to what you said or how you and me think about investing. 

Follow me on Instagram: @dickthesellsider

 
Sep 23, 2020 - 1:39pm

I'm not the most experienced person here, but I 100% agree with this. On a side note, I am genuinely astonished by the lack of emphasis WSO forums place on getting regular and adequate sleep. I realise this is not always feasible in certain roles/industries/time periods, but the evidence on the short and long term effects of even mild sleep deficits on cognitive and decision making ability is pretty damning. I imagine that a good investor would also know how to invest their time well to support peak mental ability on a consistent basis...

 
Oct 12, 2020 - 8:45pm

Man, I have ALWAYS had an issue with those sleep studies. If you have a control group and force people awake for 20 hours straight, of course they're going to be thinking about sleep, out of sheer boredom. But I've also gotten so lost in what I was doing sometimes, I would push a 100 hour week without noticing it. I seriously think it's just hard to remove the placebo from those studies. 

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  • Senior VP in HF - Other
Sep 24, 2020 - 11:50am

100%. Especially if you cover the same sectors, compound knowledge is real and should be leveraged. 

My favorite is on earnings calls when people really dig in deep into details of a non-growth oriented business unit that does sub 5% of revenue/ebitda (or whatever hyper focused random yet meaningless topic). Guy/gal is probably cranking 80-90 hour weeks with at least 50% of time being on spent on research/tasks the add no incremental value. 

 
Sep 24, 2020 - 2:34pm

Well, don't blame them, the analysts before them already star-1'ed and exhausted the quality questions one could ask, but then they still need to mark their presence on the call, hence the shtty q's. 

Follow me on Instagram: @dickthesellsider

 
Oct 22, 2020 - 11:45am

KingAlpha

There is no direct correlation between the hours you work and where the price of a stock goes. The whole point is to consistently run through ideas in a timely manner and leave sufficient time for those ideas to generate alpha before cycling through to a new one.

I thought about this a lot. The argument is that there is always a component in the investment process that can be improved. Everything can be analyzed and tweaked to tilt the probability of +ve alpha higher, even if only marginally. And this comes from my experience working in two ~1b quant HFs

 

Consider this, say you already have the idea. Do you trade on 5 tickers, or 10? Do you trade during Asia or London? Do you hold when the stock hits the daily high or unload? Now if you answer all those questions, how about execution? Passive or aggressive? Wait for spreads to tighten or just hit to get into the rally? Go to well informed venues or primaries to prevent leakage? Execution done, what about portfolio construction? What weights to put into each asset?

 

The belief is that the extra 3 hours of the day can go into analyzing any of the above by running a simulation, if done correctly, that suggests to you a decision that gives a higher expected return. That 3 hours could inch out 0.5bps on average everyday giving you 1.25% more returns for the year. Does additional 15 hours of work a week justify a 1.25% increase in annual return? That's another question.

 

I found your special case of leaving time to let a fully risked portfolio realize its alpha interesting. You've done the research and need the market to evolve. My belief is that there is still the search for a better candidate to swap into the portfolio, a better risk management framework during events, a better beta hedge should the broader market reverse in direction.

 

The question becomes will one spend the extra 3 hours a day to find something that will inch out a tiny improvement in the performance. Tiny, but still an improvement.  

 

 

 
Sep 22, 2020 - 3:52pm

8 AM - 7PM most days = 55 hours

"Off-hours" don't exist if you're awake so it's just the same scanning (2-3hrs on top, though mostly scanning so discounted by 1/4) = 3 hours

Weekends minimal news to catch up on (2-5 hours) + Sunday futures open (first few hours of trading) = 5.5 hours

 

Average ~ 63.5 hours?

 

I legitimately think working past these limits (as I have for some time) is completely over the line in terms of being profitable vs. losing your s***.

 

 

 

 
Sep 22, 2020 - 4:25pm

the 4pm-7pm hours seem like a waste of time and should be cut....and should be replaced with 2am-5am (lots of great opportunities in the futures market from the Europe open)

 
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  • Research Analyst in HF - EquityHedge
Sep 22, 2020 - 5:39pm

i gotta say you have some of the worst/least helpful/most out of touch posts in this forum and you post all the time

we get it, you trade futures in your $200k pa, no one cares.

 
  • Research Associate in HF - Event
Sep 23, 2020 - 2:42am

7am to 7-9pm at night weekdays but ends early Fridays so probably ~60-65 hours all in. Have reached point in career where I work less weekends, there will always be time for new ideas and spending that extra hour on it but I came to conclusion it's not worth it especially if all your coworkers are not working on weekends, why bother trying to to one up them. There's enough hours in a regular working week to get done what you need to do. Have no idea what people who spend 80-100 hours a week do, just sounds like they are inefficient.

 
Sep 23, 2020 - 7:58pm

Bit of a tangent but would an event-driven fund like yours consider someone with a 1-2 years BB ER background?

 
  • Investment Manager in HF - Other
Sep 23, 2020 - 8:03pm

I would say about 50-55 now, more when I was more junior. 
 

That being said, I am usually thinking about work, mostly because I enjoy some of the problems. Rarely work on weekends, usually looking at markets before going to bed, and will have calls at off hours depending on what is going on. 

 
Oct 5, 2020 - 10:47am

My career was front loaded with hours, and they tapered off as I became more trusted in my organization. Anyone else have this experience? Might help those starting out with crazy hours to see the light at the end of the tunnel.

I started in front office of a big bank working 7-9 plus ~6 hours on weekends (so around 75ish hours / week). After 3 years of this I was promoted and started working 8-6 in a prop trading unit. No more weekends (unless something went haywire).

Unfortunately there is a hazing element to the hours; there certainly are diminishing returns. Management wants to see your commitment, but hopefully once you make the cut you can get to some sane hours.

 
Oct 8, 2020 - 9:46am

Honestly, I'm surprised at how relatively low some of the numbers here are and how negatively people are viewing working ~70-80 hrs. Yes, there are diminishing returns but presumably returns should continue to be positive until you hit the burnout stage, correct? 

Assuming you do not burn out until ~80 (arbitrary marker that will change for everybody), why would you not straddle the line to maximize the area underneath the curve? I totally understand that some analysts that work these hours get too caught up in the weeds on a given name, but after the "saturation point" on a certain name, what's the downside in allocating your excess hours towards a new opportunity? One would presume that there's a positive relationship between stones turned and performance.

Am I missing something and just trying to rationalize my own hours to myself?

 
  • Research Associate in HF - Event
Oct 8, 2020 - 10:09am

Because if we wanted to maximize incremental hour-dollar margin we'd go be VPs at a bank

 
Oct 8, 2020 - 6:30pm

Less productive than I'd like to be :) but my point is even those less productive hours have some positive benefit.

Let's say if you worked 40 hrs/wk, those 40 hrs would be at 100% productivity and after that your productivity falls by 50% for each incremental hour. So if you were to work 80 hours per week (which is 60 "net" hours), you're still doing 50% more work than baseline, which for us, means you'll be churning through 50% more ideas... and that should hopefully result in better performance. Again, this doesn't hold if your productivity actually becomes negative after a certain point (ie: making bad decisions bc too tired, stressed, etc). 

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