"Most people at Meta aren't good enough for hedge funds"
Meta is cutting 11,000 staff, 13% of its total. In the circumstances, you might presume that the finest employers in the financial services industry would be rushing to recruit the rush of talent.
While there are plenty of talented engineers at the likes of Meta and Twitter (also making big cuts), London's financial services recruiters say only a few are likely to find jobs in interesting areas like AI at the most prestigious employers in finance. Banks might hire ex-tech industry staff, but the likes of Jane Street, Citadel Securities, Two Sigma and XTX Markets have a well-earned reputation for being extremely fussy.
"99% of people at Twitter and Meta are not good enough to go to the top employers in financial services," says one tech and quant headhunter, asking to remain anonymous. "They'll interview everyone but at the end of the day they'll only hire the best Russian graduate of the last decade."
As the big tech firms cut staff, some of those exiting are understood to include elite machine learning professionals. While the unwanted employees are unquestionably able, finance headhunters say they've often worked on the wrong sorts of projects.
“There’s always demand for machine learning researchers and engineers in the systematic trading space, but not all people coming out of the big technology firms are relevant," says Luke Thompson, a director at Thurn Partners. "Often the data a lot of teams have been dealing with isn’t as reactive as in markets and a fair amount work on theoretical projects without strong commercial application. Some of the AI teams working in the ad groups in big tech can move across, but often the work is simply not comparable.”
This is a shame, because top electronic market making firms and quant hedge funds are definitely interested in AI expertise. Hedge fund ExodusPoint, for example, recently hired Bin Zhou from Goldman Sachs to work on signal generation. XTX Markets is hiring machine learning specialists to work under Hans Buehler, whom it recruited from JPMorgan earlier this year.
Some recruiters are more optimistic than others about the potential employability of ex-tech staff at top finance firms. Dean Looney, founder of search firm Rupert Dean Associates, says hedge funds and electronic market makers are definitely interested in recruiting people who've worked on predictive algorithms at big tech firms: "The thought processes and technology are very similar." Healthcare firms like DE Shaw research are in the market for similar talent.
Another recruiter says she's already actively working with AI employees at tech firms who want to move into finance. However, Thompson says there can still be some hesitancy about making the move: "A lot of people in technology are die hard tech people. There’s still a feeling that these Silicon Valley companies do something different.”
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