Need help on life-changing decision – please give advice!

This is a long one so strap in.

I'm a senior at a top public, trying to break into AMs/HFs this upcoming year. I summered at a solid fund, will not be going back and I have a 3.5 GPA. Haven't been particularly successful at recruiting thus far.
However, my dad was a billionaire growing up in China who hit it big during the boom times. About 15 years ago, he was sent to jail for fraud and has been serving his time since. I came to the US when I was 6 and grew up with close to no contact with him and a small stipend paid out by him to me and my mother (again, middle class).

Over the course of those years, he lost a significant significant portion of his money to various stupid and controllable things. But there's still anywhere between $30-200M left. He also cheated on my mother who was raising me in the US and fathered some kids that are I think 15 and 6 (male). My mother never divorced him and is currently fighting with my dad and his mistress for money. His mistress also tried to cheat out of a bunch of money but he apparently doesn't really care.

Now he's about to leave prison for the first time, within a month or two, and I have the chance to basically, suck up to him and try to get as much money as possible. I truly have no relationship with him as I haven't seen him for an extended period since when I was 5. But as his eldest male son, I have a large advantage as I can try to position myself as his successor with the help of my mother.

I'm probably leaving during winter break and over that time I'm going to be negotiating? With my dad and his mistress and trying to get them to give me either stock in the holding company or positions of responsibility.

My plan is to go back for 2-3 years as soon as I graduate. While I'm there, I honestly still don't know what I'd be doing but I assume I'd be helping to run investments? A position that has been bandied about was being the Chairman of a company that my family controls. I don't know how much latitude to make decisions I'd get or anything, but truth be told, and I'm not being arrogant here, there's a lot of room for process improvements. I also don't know if I would actually get to do that.

Anyways, my plan would be to go for 2-3 years, try to siphon off as much money as possible, and walk away. Ballpark, my mom, who is on the ground and I think understands the situation, says I should be able to make $2-3 million if everything goes right, after tax.

What going right consists of would be probably ingratiating myself, picking up responsibilities of some sort, displaying my ability to him, things like that.

The problem is that might not happen-

Firstly, I don't speak Chinese fluently. It's intermediate at best – I can understand a normal conversation, but I can't read at all and I have a lot of difficulty speaking, and I could not follow a conversation about business or law. I assume I'd get better once I spent maybe half a year there though.

Secondly, my dad is an asshole. You'd kind of have to be to mistreat my mom and I the way we have been. The comparison that came to mind was that I'd be going undercover, suppressing my actual personality for 2-3 years to ingratiate myself. He's an imperious, impulsive, callous, and unempathetic person. There's no changing his mind on stuff, and he holds all the power in this situation. I think if we had a normal father/son relationship, we wouldn't get along at all. We're complete strangers at this point. It would be super frustrating to deal with him for 2-3 years.

My mother would be helping my navigate the environment and my dad by just giving advice.

Two other problems -

  1. I like life in America. I'm American, my long distance girlfriend is here, my friends are here, and although obviously there are ups and downs, it's what I'm comfortable with.

  2. I also have to go back as soon as I graduate this summer. The timing is important or else I don't get a seat at the table. If I do that, I won't be able to work in the US. There's no possibility for me to work here for a year to get experience under my belt and then go to China.

The reasons I'm still considering this is twofold –

  1. 2-3 million at 25 is a hell of a lot of money. So much money. I could literally retire at that point, or maybe work for like 5 more years, then retire at 30. I could make a startup. I could work something super fulfilling for the rest of my life for low pay. It's also not the limit - it really just depends on whether or not I make and keep a good impression.

  2. My mother is somewhat relying on me to do this – I don't have a good relationship with her for reasons that are complex, but the sense of helping your parents is still there. She has no savings, she's 50ish, and I'd be doing this so she could walk away with a million or so. She's been spending the past 4 years fighting my dad to get to the spot we're in now, and she's been paying for my college tuition.

Currently I'm recruiting for AM/HF roles which is not going well, but I'm holding out hope. I do have solid experience, and I am fairly confident I will get some job, maybe not Baupost or whatever, but some $300M-$2B hedge fund has to take a chance on me. I know I'm pretty capable of doing the job. And it's not a bad path at all.

The big risk here is that I go for two years, I lose the fight with my dad or whatever or we don't gel or something, or there's a falling out, and I come back to the US with nothing but two years of random experience that is not applicable to anything. Again, still no insight into what my actual day to day would be.

I have 2 questions for you guys -

  1. What are the career risks if I come back with nothing? Assume I still want to do HF/AM later. How would I spin my time? Is there anything I can do during the time I spend in China that would keep me competitive for entry level positions?

  2. Do you think I should do it? It's been abridged but the above is an alright summary.
    I'd love the help. Any thoughts, advice, or comments would be great.

Not a troll obviously, who in their right mind would spend this long writing this otherwise.


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Comments (9)

Dec 6, 2019 - 10:09pm

Sounds like he likes making money.

Tell him you want to run a real estate family office investment group in the US and ask for a shitton of money. Then pay yourself an insane salary to siphon money out.

Just buy some up and coming tier 3 cities with 7% return or some shit.

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Dec 6, 2019 - 10:29pm

He already has existing business interests which I assume have priority over whatever I want to do.

I absolutely thought about doing something like this but I don't think the chances that he writes me a blank check for $10M or whatever to invest in the US is high.

Dec 8, 2019 - 2:16am

Hi @problemquestion. What do you mean exactly by "your mom is fighting with your dad for money"?

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Dec 7, 2019 - 11:42am

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