Musings of the Recently Unemployed

Longtime WSO user who has recently discovered a significant amount of excess free time after my fund effectively closed. Have been playing around with a bit of writing to fill the time and thought I would create a dummy account to elicit feedback from the forumn. Would love any and all feedback (negative or positive) and am happy to continue positing is feedback positive.

One week after learning my fund was returning outside capital and my position as the fund's sole analyst was to be eliminated, I walked out of the office for the final time. As the office door shut behind me, I thought I would feel something - happy, sad, relieved, wistful nostalgic, angry - but nothing. Maybe I had already accepted my fate in the intervening week and somehow subconsciously processed these emotions bit by bit over the prior seven days. Or perhaps that I was racing out the door to catch a bus the Hamptons preoccupied my thoughts. Either way, at the moment the sound of the door latching hit my eardrums, it's hard to say whether I truly internalized this chapter, albeit a brief one, forever closing.

I walked out of the building into the sweltering July Manhattan heat, threw on my Ray-Bans and the began the crosstown trek to my bus. There was a lot on my mind as I traipsed from Madison Avenue to Lexington. How do I avoid sweating in the over 90 degree heat? Did I need provisions for the three hour trek to Bridgehampton? Can I drink on the bus? Where is the nearest liquor store? What's for dinner? I'm hot. Can everyone see the sweat bleeding through my shirt?

Noticeably absent from my bouillabaisse of thoughts were musings on markets, investments, and stocks. All potentially work-related reflections were conspicuously non-existent. Like a bad memory, I had repressed the ruminations that would normally be swirling around my head. No longer did I have a master to serve and without a master, my cerebral cortex shut down.

My nine months in the hedge fund industry ended very unceremoniously. I spent the final week winding down a couple projects, organizing old files, shredding superfluous papers, and cleaning my workstation. On my final day, after a good scrub with industrial strength cleaner, it looked as though no one had worked at my desk for the past nine months. Before departing, I shook my bosses hand, looked him in the eye, and thanked him for being a coach and mentor. And for employing me for nine-months. I can't leave out that minor detail. And while we'd all like to think we leave a lasting mark on the organizations we work for, I have no qualms saying that I will in all likelihood soon be forgotten. All that was left was an imprint of my bottom on my office chair.

There were no seven-figure bonuses, no trades that broke economies, no raiding corporate pension plans. I was not the swashbuckling hedge fund manager depicted on television or in the movies. Maybe I deluded myself into thinking I eventually could be that, but no, I was the grunt; an amalgamation of characters depicted the in the TV show Billions, but only the ones given very limited screen time. The ones used as plot devices to create weekly fodder for the audience as the main story arc moves through the season. Don't get me wrong, I was well-compensated. Maybe even in excess of the value I contributed (perhaps a debate for another time). It's just that my story is not a tale of great fortunes won on the battlefield of high finance.

To be laid off, regardless of the underlying cause, is a less than ideal way for one's employment to end. That said, I harbored no ill will towards my boss. His decision to shutter the fund was economically rational - utility maximizing - and for that, I could not fault him. He had conducted himself as a gentleman and for that, I respected him. I'd like to think that respect was mutual, but I don't know. I don't know if I'll ever know his unvarnished views towards me.

But on this day, all those thoughts became secondary to the present. Secondary to living in the moment. Secondary to looking forward to the freedom afforded by no immediate responsibilities. For the first time in my life, I could inhale the New York City summer air without having to worry about what happens once the intoxication wears off.

I now have the freedom to step back for a just a moment, hit the pause button, and simultaneously reflect on all that I've done and all that is yet to come. I don't know if I yet fully appreciate the reverberations this event will have on my life and my career, but I'm sure like ripples on a pond, they will be far and wide. And only time will reveal the ultimate impact.

Comments (11)

Jul 10, 2018

I'll be the first to say that this is great, and I look forward to hearing more.

Jul 11, 2018

Thank you, monkey_brah. Appreciate the feedback.

Jul 11, 2018

More scattered feedback:

1) You already know this, but this is written in novel-type language vs. bullets/straightforward language. Makes it maybe slightly tougher to digest, but more exciting to read.

2) Without outing yourself, what led the fund to return outside capital (and presumably close)?

3) In the two months I had between jobs, I had a similar realization of how little I generally actually care about the day-to-day. See my thread here for my own thoughts and also a ton of reflections from WSO: Link -- if some of this resonates with you, let's grab a beer.

4) Obvious cliffhanger here: what's next for you?

Jul 11, 2018

You're an excellent writer. You should write a book about being a regular person who happened to work in finance. Use this experience as evidence of that, but breakdown your dreams in a way where main street can understand better. That'd be interesting and refreshing. The opposite of Michael Lewis' epics of finance gods who feel no mortal consequence.

Jul 17, 2018

agree, @Sword of Damocles we hope you decide to write more

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Jul 17, 2018

finance is a scam and the only thing that keeps the desperate desperately clinging on (myself included) is delusions of grandeur.

Interesting if not cliche write-up. I keep coming back to a resonating thought that people outside of the industry are far less interested in the inner-workings than we on the inside think they are.

    • 1
Jul 18, 2018

Nobody outside of finance cares. It's like the finance instagram accounts - some of the memes are sort of funny but the user-submitted sled and hardo shit is straight up embarrassing and lacking in self awareness.

  • HFT
  •  Jul 18, 2018

Let's start a commodities hedge fund.
PM me your email.

Jul 18, 2018

Why was the fund shut down ? Performance?

Jul 18, 2018

Hope you're enjoying Montauk.

Jul 18, 2018