As everyone knows by now, disruption is barreling toward the hedge fund industry like a runaway freight train. What fewer people know is what to do about it, exactly. But there's a definite playbook for any industry looking to get on the right side of disruptive innovation: Buy a kegerator, give employees ping pong and move west. The rest will take care of itself.
Those are some of the conclusions (more or less) of a new Boston Consulting Group report examining the shift underway in the industry as hedge funds grapple with lower returns, more competition and shifting investor appetites. “Hedge funds that fail to reform their business models will be lucky to survive, unable to attract talent or investors,” the report warns, painting a bleak hypothetical future where profits sink by nearly three-quarters. “Hedge fund managers cannot afford to be timid.”
One of the central recommendations of the report is for hedge funds to up their technology game, which means better attracting tech talent eager to decamp for Silicon Valley. Solution: Become Silicon Valley.
The traditional hedge fund talent model is poorly suited to attracting, developing, and retaining technology talent. Hedge funds need a new value proposition for employees, complete with a new breed of manager, a tech-style working environment, and even a tech-heavy location such as the West Coast. Hedge funds must become more team based and less founder driven, with a culture that encourages innovation.
Say goodbye to the Midtown Manhattan office, the stuffy suits and the tyrannical founder, and welcome sunny California vibes, cargo shorts and a boss who likes to give back rubs. Also bean bag chairs.
That recommendation comes at the same time that many hedge funds have been scaling back their perks in an effort to get competitive on the 2-and-20 front. It'll be hard to convince managers to give their staff unlimited almonds and free yoga classes while simultaneously asking them to, say, loiter outside conferences in lieu of buying pricey tickets. Just don't ask Bill Ackman to ditch his tennis court.