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The Hedgie: The first thing I noticed when I joined a Hong Kong hedge fund was that there wasn't a water cooler

Our man inside a Hong Kong hedge fund returns with his second blog. If you haven't read his first one click here.

Working for a hedge fund, I always face a lot of funny questions:

What is hedge fund?

Are they loan sharks?

Are they cheating or investing?

High risk, high return: are hedge funds very risky?

How many hedge funds can survive more than 10 years?

Does everyone work under pressure?

These questions remind me to a large extent that hedge funds still remain so very mysterious.

Before getting into the industry, I used to portrait it as highly automated and systematic. Everyone, I thought, would be busy trading or talking on the phone, with some back-office team booking and clearing routine matters. Also, everyone working at hedge funds would be smart, young and ambitious. The above was merely my imagination; the reality is quite different.

Err, where's the water cooler guys?

The first thing I noticed when I started work at a hedge fund in Hong Kong, was that I couldn't find the staff water cooler. I have worked for US telecom firms and local technology companies, and these machines were everywhere. But at the hedge fund, we were all drinking bottled water from France. No need to take a glass to my desk then.

After my water shock I noticed the different attitude to privacy. I am not talking about monitoring, I am referring to partitions and rooms: there are none. We are a small hedgie, with only about 20 staff. This allows our office to look like an interactive classroom. The big boss sits in the middle, and other employees sit on benches, with nothing separating them. No matter if you are a department head or supervisor, we all sit together like students.

Kitchen, kids and casual clothes

Also, I would describe our pantry as a KITCHEN. We have all kinds of cooking machines: an oven, microwave, grill, toaster etc. My colleagues love to actually cook their breakfast/lunch in our open-plan office kitchen. Moreover, we have a library corner with massage chairs. Some of us also sit on yoga balls instead of chairs.

From time to time, usually after trading hours, our traders will switch off the Bloomberg channel to watch a football match. People here always bring their kids to the office. Many of us just work in shorts during summer. Can you imagine a hedgie like this? Is my office abnormal? Or is this happening in other small fund houses?

Still remember the question mentioned above? "How many hedge funds can survive more than 10 years?"

This was one I asked myself before joining the industry. The chances are that in this sector, you will swing between making money and losing your job. I chose to go for it. I wanted to take the challenge while I am still young.

The views expressed are those of the author, not of eFinancialCareers. If you'd like to blog about your career, please email apac.editor@efinancialcareers.com

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AUTHORThe Hedgie Insider Comment
  • BC
    BC
    25 October 2011

    Love that =)

  • CC
    CC
    17 October 2011

    Thanks for the sharing. I'm now working in Chinese Hedge Fund wtih around 30 staffs, but the working environment is not that similar as yours. We have rooms and partitions (but they're made in glasses, and some of my colleagues try to stick papers around to protect their own privacy...) And we have water dispenser, coz we need hot water. =P Also we need to wear smart casual during office hours, I can't imagine that you can wear shorts in the office, amazing.

    Maybe the above happens because of the different culture and practise of Chinese and foreigner?

    "How many hedge funds can survive more than 10 years?" - before i joined the hedge fund co., my friend told me the fact already. "I wanted to take the challenge while I am still young." - um... same here. :)

  • Al
    Alex
    16 October 2011

    Grow up, kids. Even in New York, Tokyo and London, you can find the same environment. Nothing about Hong Kong. Stop fooling around, spend your time to make money for your boss.

  • rr
    rrr
    15 October 2011

    Nice

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