Saturday, September 22, 2007

I am alive!

Believe it or not, I am still alive, though with the nagging feeling at the back of my head that I have neglected my blog recently. Patxi as always was visionary and made a post about how social networking sites would reduce the importance of blogs. In my case I can say that since I am a facebook user I have drastically reduced the time I spend blogging. But last night I was reminded of my blog by bumping into a reader, it was incredible.

During the summer, I was lucky to land on a desk with incredibly friendly and cheerful, open-minded people, so we stayed in touch. Even luckier, there was another intern at my desk, who was the nicest and most entertaining person you could imagine - we spent a lot of time talking about "God and the world" (it's a German expression, I guess) whenever the others were busy and we had little to do. This intern only finished yesterday, so I went back to the City to meet them up for drinks. There was a young guy from India with them who just joined the desk (a few weeks after I left), and he suddenly asked me if I was angelangie. How weird!! I asked him how he knew my blog, especially given that he was neither thinking of an MBA nor anything like that. Now I wonder if it is the same guy who made a comment on my blog a few months saying that he suspected we might be working in the same bank?? Well, to get to the point, it is great to see I still have readers out there, even though I don't blog much these days. It inspires me to keep going, though till November I won't have much time.

Life is wonderful here, I am learning a lot every day and having a good time. I still enjoy my job at the hedge fund, and this is quite unique, because the people who know me, they know that I am usually enthusiastic for a week and then ask myself "what am I doing here?". I have never had a job in my life that I actually found interesting and that I actually thought I could do for a long time. And incredibly, three weeks have passed and I still like it! I am not a hopeless case after all! I think what I like most is that it is very difficult. It is also frustrating because I am not used to feeling stupid, but now I do, which makes me learn a lot and ask a lot of questions. I think I already mentioned that my boss always has time to explain me how the trades work, and he gives me some tasks that he knows are beyond my skills to test me and then explains me how to do it, and that way I keep my brain working and learn a lot. This is quite different from busy MDs at investment banks, who always seem to busy to explain much to you, you just have to go there and figure things out for yourself, and if you're lucky some associate on the desk might take ten minutes to explain you things. It seems that people are more relaxed on the buy-side and they can actually take the time to teach others how to make money, which is great.

Apart from the content, I like some of the other benefits as well. One gets invited to investor lunches, and though I guess they get boring once you have done a lot of them, I still find it quite interesting to see how the management is, how the other investors are, what questions they ask - and the food tends to be excellent! Last week, I went to a lunch of a luxury company, which turned out to spend more time showing us their new collection of jewellery and watches rather than talking about the numbers, which was unusual but certainly entertaining.

So this is what keeps me busy these days, after work I just eat and fall asleep immediately. Sometimes I go out for dinner with friends during the week. Actually one dinner this week was a lot of fun. Believe it or not - following angelangie's path ;-) - this year there are 3 German McKinsey girls in MBA2009!!! It feels like I am multiplying, which is good :-). The four of us went out for dinner and had a lot of fun! They were very interested to hear about those mysterious jobs where you can actually go home at 7pm! Mmh, thinking back now and realizing how tired I am even when I get home at 7 or 8pm, I can't believe that I actually spent 2 years working till midnight if not longer and commuting by plane every week. My poor body!! And I was so young then. I cannot imagine how I survived it. I am so happy and grateful I do not have to do that anymore!

Monday, September 03, 2007

One day at a hedge fund in London

I told you guys I had some more tricks up my sleeve when I left the investment bank in August, and now I can share it. Actually, I had two offers for summer internships, and I wanted to do both, so I accepted both. The second offer was from a large hedge fund in London in their event driven group (my loyal readers might remember my posts on hedge fund interviews). I started today and cannot believe how much I have learned in a day. Compared to working in a bank it seems much more creative and intellectually challenging, I will really need to work hard and switch my brain on. I am quite intimidated right now by all I have to learn as fast as possible, but I hope in a few weeks I will know much more.

What did I do today? I came in and immediately sat down with the head of the fund who told me what he wants me to work on over the next few weeks. I need to analyse certain aspects of three companies they currently hold live positions in. The tricky part is that being a "market neutral fund", they never hold a naked position, but instead have a position hedged against all kinds of effects they do not want to have exposure to, and therefore might go long on a stock but then short on some currencies, commodities, other stocks in the same industry or sub-industry of some of the business units etc.. So essentially, even when you cover one company, you actually cover 5 companies, some currencies, markets, interest rates etc.. I was instructed to work only on the first company (which given the basket turns out to be four companies and 5 main currencies) over the next days, and then they will add the other two live positions in the middle of the week, as he said I have to learn covering 3-5 live positions at the same time, as they do.

There was not much time today to cover even that position though, because there was a lot going on on the side. Of course I had to fill in lots of forms on compliance, insider trading etc., learn about the policies, the intranet etc.. But the main distraction came from somewhere else. The CEO of a bank was hosting an investor lunch in the City today and a guy who has a position in that bank needed the investment memorandum. He had another meeting though, and they asked me if I could go to the City, attend the lunch and get the booklet. I confirmed that I do not need to know or say anything and agreed to attend, no problem for me getting a 3-course meal with delicious wine and listening to a CEO! Of course, when I arrived there were 15 old men in suits in the room and me in casual clothes, pretty funny. I got all the info and listened attentively, and then went back to Mayfair happily. In the afternoon a CFO of a small company the fund is invested in came to our offices and the head of the fund also asked me to attend, their stock went down 50% over the last weeks and he said it would be interesting for me to see how the meetings with companies whose stocks are down 50% go. So I attended that as well, and then I was talking to the manager afterwards about how they have been affected by the turmoil over the last weeks, and he explained to me why even "market neutral funds" lose money in downturns.

By the time we were finished, it was 7 pm and everybody had left, so I left as well. Tomorrow I really need to advance on my first task though, because on Wednesday they'll throw in additional tasks for me. I'm absolutely thrilled though by how interesting it is and how much I am learning. After a short holiday, angel angie is getting up early again!