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Florida Recruiters on How They’re Navigating the Hedge Fund Hiring Frenzy

  • Recruiting firm StevenDoulgas has seen its business grow by 400% over the past five years.
  • The firm, headquartered in South Florida, has seen an increase in investing and engineer moves. 
  • Two recruiters from the firm talked to Insider to discuss recruiting trends in South Florida. 

More hedge funds are setting up shop in the Sunshine State, and that’s resulting in a hiring frenzy for recruiting firms like StevenDouglas.

The firm’s search business has increased by 400% over the last five years, with the past two years seeing a significant bump. StevenDouglas is seeing an increase of investment professionals moving down to Florida and more demand for tech roles like back-end engineers, full-stack engineers, site-reliability engineers, data engineers, and security engineers to staff hedge funds. 

Ken Griffin’s Citadel decided to leave its long-time Chicago headquarters for Miami earlier this summer. Griffin cited employee demand for the decision to move, saying that “many of our Chicago teams have asked to relocate to Miami, New York,” in his internal memo to staff announcing the change. Another reason he has pointed to is the mounting levels of crime in Chicago.

Millennium Management launched an office in Brickell, Miami’s financial center last year. The firm recently tapped  Goldman Sach’s alum Olga Naumovich to build teams of engineers and developers that work closely with the multi-strategy hedge fund’s trading pods.

Financial institutions like Blackstone, Goldman Sachs, Elliott Management, and others have bolstered their footprint in the Sunshine State over the past few years. Hedge funds Point72 Asset Management, Balyasny Asset Management, and D1 Capital Partners also have locations in Florida. 

As more firms move down south, competition for both investment professional roles and technologist roles like data engineers has been fierce, two recruiters from StevenDouglas told Insider. 

“The best ones are not looking,” Michael Beaton, a director within StevenDouglas’s technology search business, said, referencing the best possible talent. “The best folks that are looking for these opportunities are not necessarily looking for jobs usually. So we are having to proactively reach out to them and entice them on opportunities in the South Florida market.”  

StevenDouglas – a recruiting firm that specializes in areas like financial services, information technology, and accounting – is headquartered in South Florida and has 24 offices throughout the country, which has helped them source strong talent through referrals. The firm could not disclose the hedge funds it works with, but said it has helped some large hedge funds source talent as recently as last week.  

Don’t move to Florida for a vacation 

For candidates that are ready for palm trees and sunshine, they need to make sure they can brave hurricane season. Hurricane Ian hit southwest Florida this week, leaving over a million residents without power and destroying homes and businesses. 

Ross Cohen, who serves as a director at StevenDouglas’s financial services search business, has learned over the past five years that there are big differences between candidates that have been to Florida on vacation versus those who were born and raised there. 

“We look at their work experience and if they’re looking to relocate back to Florida for family reasons,” he said. “Those candidates have been through a hurricane season like we’re seeing now. Florida is a different place in September and August than it is in January and February. I would say those are the people that have proven to be the most successful in the roles that we’ve seen over the years.”  

The firm doesn’t want candidates that are looking to work in Florida as a “nice little break away” from a major city like New York or Chicago, he said. 

“They’re viewing this as their gateway to return home,” Cohen said, who went to the University of Florida and moved to New York City to begin his financial services career. Still, people that are serious about making a life in Florida should apply.

Difficulties finding the right talent 

Although many large hedge funds are moving to South Florida, it’s still a struggle to find a cultural fit, Beaton said. 

“A good fit at one may not be a great fit at the other – some may be a little tougher to work for than others,” he said. “You’ll see folks that spend a long time with an organization and some that are a little bit more transaction based, where they’re at one firm for a year and another one for a year.”  

Another challenge that recruiters face is finding engineers that can also articulate their work and help the firm produce results. Firms want engineers that can work well with investors or traders. 

“Engineers that can see the business through a technical lens rather than with their heads down, hammering out code,” Beaton said.  

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