For many who work or aspire to work on Wall Street, getting a gig with Steve Cohen at SAC is the holy grail, for obvious reasons. Money. Prestige. "Stretching" rooms. An office on the water, perfect for midday contemplation. All the fleece clothes you could ever want. The opportunity to be called "sport" or "champ" or "idiot" by the big guy. And so on and so forth. Having said that, most people probably only know of the standard practices for obtaining employment at SAC. They include connections, applying, impressing representatives of the firm at your college or business school, and things of that nature. Unfortunately, we don't generally hear about the less orthodox tactics some people have used (other than Gary Busey's avenue for getting in good). Today James Altucher relates his tale. If you've been trying with little success to get your foot or other body part in the door, you'll want to take notes. Step one: obtain Steve's screen name.
If you are unable to get your hands on it, either from someone on the inside or stalking AOL chatrooms, you'll have to work a bit harder, like Altucher, a columnist for TheStreet.com, did.
In 2004 I had been trading about $27 million allocated to me from various hedge funds and investors. But its hard to build a business so I wanted to switch to trading for Stevie Cohen’s SAC Capital, the biggest hedge fund in the world. Stevie Cohen was the best investor in the world and people working for him could make 10s of millions of dollars a year or more.
At first I emailed him. I didn’t have his email address so I tried various combinations of email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, etc. I sent about 30 emails to 30 different combinations of the above. No response. The next month I did it again. And again.
If you're extremely patient, your moment may come.
Finally, after a year of doing this, there was a response: “Whats your IM”. So Stevie Cohen, the best investor in the world, with $3bb of his own money in SAC Capital, and I started to IM with each other.
Not knowing exactly when you'll be on the receiving end of an IM from [redacted], it's important to have your pick up line ready, unless you're really good at riffing and think he's interested in the random links and clips you've recently come across. State your purpose.
I explained my approach and he wanted to meet. So a few weeks later a car service took me to Stamford, CT.
Prepare to sit around for a while, and try not to reach out and touch any employees, no matter how soft they look.
I waited for about a half hour. It was near the close of the trading day so I assumed he was busy. People were walking in and out of the building. They were all wearing these fleece jackets that said SAC Capital on them. They were like a big family. They all loved each other. I could tell. I wanted to be part of the family also. So I could love them and they could love me. We would joke around at lunchtime. Maybe we would make fun of Cohen and all laugh but all nervously looking around to make sure he wasn’t there. Slowly we would get to know each other and, when they were comfortable with me, maybe they would invite me over to dinner to meet their family. “This is that new guy I was telling you about. Thank God Stevie Cohen hired him!”
Make him want it.
Finally, someone came to get me, “He’s ready for you now.”...I sat down across from him. “Why do you want to start trading for me?” he asked.
“Its hard to trade, raise money, manage a business,” I said. “I think the economics work a lot better if I’m managing money for you.”
“You’re absolutely right,” he said.
Let him come to you.
We started to walk together out the door, down the hallway. “Lets do this,” he said, “ why don’t you instant message me before you do a trade for the next few weeks. We’ll see how it goes in real time.”
The next day, right around 9:29 am before I was going to make my first trade of the day I instant messaged him the trade. He wrote back, “Thanks”. I’m not exaggerating: about 50 trades in a row had worked out for me at that point. It was June, 2004 and I hadn’t had a down month since July, 2003. Not even a down week. Until that trade.
And the next seven trades after it.
I was totally disheartened. It was like being impotent and telling the girl, “this has never happened to me before.” Stevie Cohen was THAT GIRL.
“Don’t worry”, Cohen IM-ed me. “Just relax. We can try again in an hour.” Actually, he didn’t IM that. He IM-ed. “Don’t worry. This happens.”
But at some point I just stopped sending him trades. And a few days later he IMed, “where are you???” but I didn’t respond to that. I was ashamed.
If you do choke, GET BACK OUT THERE. Not with trade ideas, since it seems those might not be your forte, but stuff that could keep you in the game. Like:
* Divert his attention by asking "So, what are you wearing?"
* Try a compliment that will both flatter and weird him out such as, "Spill it- there's no way those baby blues are real; how long you been rocking the color contacts?"
* Innocently go for the sweet spot a la: "Hey, what do you say we blow off the rest of this day and hit up the Patagonia outlet?"
* Get belligerent with him. IM something like, "No you four-eyed fuck I said SELL not BUY, SELL! Get your vision examined." Few if any people would ever dream of doing such a thing, particularly SAC employees, so he might actually like it.
* Blame the insider network tip your trade was based on
* Go for the sympathy angle. Something like this might work (you'll need a webcam for full effect):
You: Steve, we're both in trading. Let me tell you why I suck as a trader. Let's say I go short on a stock, let's say it's even remotely working my way. Well then I get all excited. I'm like Jojo the idiot circus boy with a pretty new pet.
[Reach down and pick up a half eaten bagel from breakfast]
You: [Hold up the bagel] Now the pet here is my possible profit. [To the bagel] Hello there pretty little pet, I love you, I say. And then I stoke it, and I pet it, and I massage it. Hehe I love it, I love my little naughty pet.
[Poke bagel playfully]
You: You're naughty! And then I take my naughty pet and I go and double down my position...rumor hits that the stock is an acquisition target.
[make ripping noises as you tear apart bagel]
You: [Wail loudly, make people start to look] Uuuuuuh! I killed it! I killed my profit! And that's when I blow it. That's when traders gotta forge ahead, Steve. Am I right?
Steve: God, you're sick.