[LONG POST ALERT] What should I do? I am kinda lost

Hi all prospective monkeys! Hope you are doing well! I am feeling lost in my career path and confuse of what should i do next. Any input will be appreciated!

BACKGROUND

I am from Hong Kong, just finished the first year of study in the top 3 local university (i don't think there's anything like target school in HK, but there're quite a few openings here and there) with a major in Economics and Finance. Have been doing quite well and attained a pretty decent GPA, think ~3.7, while also trying to network with alumni / industrial experts by cold mailing or so. I believe I am competent and competitive at least among the same age group.

MY INTEREST

I have found my interest in the market, mainly in love with its fast paced nature and the adrenaline rush while trading. The performance-related comp is also one of the incentive as well. After knowing more about different position, I feel like I prefer to have more freedom on investing so ultimately I have the preference as follows.
Hedge Fund PM = Prop Trader > some kind of Asset Management > Market Making (BB Trading)
I fully understand the difficulty of breaking in and no one can be a Hedge Fund PM right out of college. What I meant is that I would love to be a PM/ Prop trader as an ultimate aim for my career.

So now..... Here comes the questions

  1. I am actually considering having my career in US / UK given that the current situation of HK. (pls refer to those reddit front page post for whats happening) For those people who has been working in US/UK, would you give me some insight on what should I consider while choosing on where to develop my career and what are the fundamental differences between the two, lets say NY and London (i know there are many financial hubs apart from the two, but just keep it simple for now)
  2. Back here in HK, it is common to have a semester exchange in the penultimate year. I am thinking (hoping) to go the Ivies / G5 (choices below) and network as hard as I can while exchange. Obviously, Wharton is a great choice but the quota is very very limited, not sure if I can get there. What will be the best alternative for that?
    Choices available: Wharton, NYU Stern, Michigan Ross, Warwick Business School
  3. As I have mentioned, I am aiming for either PM/Prop Trade. So now I am having an internship which is not market-related. What internship should I be applying for next summer? Is MM Trading's skillset useful? or relevant? What about Asset Management? Or just whatever trading / market related stuff will do. Should I not care too much about the skillset but learn as much as possible (as broad as possible).
  4. Last question, is it possible to break into the Finance in either US/UK as an outsider? not a perm resident for both country

Woah, can't believe I have written that long. For who have read the whole post, I would like to thank you for your time. And once again, any inputs will be appreciated. Sorry for the poor English....

Comments (7)

Jun 21, 2019

Don't know how much input I can provide, but since no one else is even posting, I'll give my 2 cents. Exiting to HF out of undergrad is really bullish - only a handful of students from the best universities (Wharton/Columbia/Harvard/LSE/etc) do it. Even then, it's debatable if it's the right decision since the classic IB route provides the learning experience.

  1. Can't speak much to London, but NY is definitely the hub. Greenwich, Connecticut also runs many of the top funds (think distressed) in the U.S., but if you're looking to start and build a career, NY is definitely the place. From a standard of living POV, I hear London is actually more expensive, but you're paying a lot for housing regardless. NY is most likely busier, but from an opportunities standpoint, neither is lacking.
  2. Look into the other ivy league schools outside of Wharton - you don't need to have an undergrad business school to network well. Columbia comes to mind first just due to its location as well as MIT Sloan, but NYU Stern is also a great choice. Other choices that I would also consider are USC (Marshall) and Berkeley; I don't know if either take exchange, but both are great business schools. I would still argue to try your hardest for Penn/Wharton just because the talent production and networking is incomparable. If you're thinking London FT HF, then look into LSE of course.
  3. I would follow the learn as much as possible mindset, but you also want relevant work. Asset Management doesn't seem like a bad idea, but classic investment banking will also be helpful. There are many hedge funds that do offer programs for summer (Point 72, DE Shaw, Bridgewater), but they're obviously hard to break into. I would say those internships are the most beneficial and most similar to what you want, but other choices include IB, AM, and S/T.
  4. Tough question, but I would say the hard reality is yes (at least for the U.S.) I can't speak from personal experience, but some of my friends from Canada and HK have had it rough with recruiting - even if a firm can sponsor, it's a lot of paperwork and documentation. One of my friends recently had to transfer to London for one reason or another, and it's just hard these days. That being said, top firms will always take people that are worth it so stand out.

These are my thoughts, but someone else pls add on because this seems like a heavy discussion

Jun 22, 2019

Really appreciate the input, I guess I am going to aim for Wharton while taking Stern as the alternative for now (due to the proximity to the Street).

Actually, I would like to have some clarification on Hedge Fund if possible. As originally, to my understanding, Hedge Fund deploy different strategy (L/S, Long only, Macro, Event-driven, etc) and take a relatively longer position. However, I went through a post these days (cant find it again lol) stating that most HFs are intra-day (not HFT) while the rest are longer positions. Is that really the case? IMO, if the position is shorter, then S/T sounds more relevant and AM sounds more relevant for longer position? Correct me if im wrong.

Thanks again for the time and input!

haha just an ordinary kid with enthusiasm in the market
-- market-enthusiast/ Hongkonger

Jun 21, 2019

You're based in the hub of the fastest-growing part of the world and you want to move to mature economies that are actively cutting down on immigration because why?

    • 1
Jun 22, 2019

Well.... I'll try to explain that without getting too political.

I am a Hong Konger and I am proud to be one. I love my city and will not try to leave unless I have to. Undoubtedly, Hong Kong is now one of the greatest city and an international financial hub together with NY and London. However, the unique characteristics, that make HK the top financial hub, are fading. I believe you guys have been seeing HK a lot in the newspaper these days and thats not a good sign. I am, just like many HKer, not optimistic about the future of HK. Unless miracle happens, HK's prestige will gradually fall and become one of the many ordinary cities.

With all that being said, I, in the bottom of my heart, hope that I can stay in Hong Kong for my career. As nobody would love to leave their friends and family and immigrate to a brand new place and start all over again, given they have a choice. So... yeah, I'm still young, I will make decision when time comes, but I have to be prepared so that I am able to make decision but not forced to accept one.

IMHO, HK now is pretty similar with London back when Brexit just start (no offence). No one know what is gonna happen and generally not that optimistic due to uncertainties. Thats why I am preparing for the worse now.

haha just an ordinary kid with enthusiasm in the market
-- market-enthusiast/ Hongkonger

Jun 21, 2019

In the end it's a life choice. But frankly, I think you might be getting too dramatic about the future of HK, and in all honesty this might be due to your youth. Many 20yr olds would have also believed London would implode right after the Brexit vote. So would New Yorkers after 9/11. Parisians thought they would turn their town into a commune in 1968. Even HKers probably feared the worst in 1997, and you dont seem unhappy about things up until now.

All these cities are still standing, and not much has changed in terms of career opportunities ir their global attractiveness. My point is, due to your youth you're probably exaggerating the significance of recent events in HK. Most likely, this will all be a footnote in history books 5yrs from now, and little will have changed. It would be foolish, in my opinion, to make a life-changing decision based on just this. If you want to move to NY or London because of different culture or lifestyle, then thats an entirely different story.

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Jun 22, 2019

Really appreciated your input! You have given me another sight for the incident. Perhaps it is just me worrying too much. And just then I realize there's no use worrying as things will go in their way. Just keep improving myself then I will be ready for whatever change. Thanks Sir!

And on the other hand, saw ur title as a HF PM, mind to clarify some of my doubt listed above? Or even better, if you don't mind to chat via pm, and we might talk more about it.

Anyway, really helpful input there!

haha just an ordinary kid with enthusiasm in the market
-- market-enthusiast/ Hongkonger

    • 1
Jun 22, 2019
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haha just an ordinary kid with enthusiasm in the market
-- market-enthusiast/ Hongkonger