23 February 2017
Over the years, the word ‘millennial’ has come to elicit many negative associations. Even just hearing the word, you may feel as though it’s embarrassing to be identified in that group, and millennials themselves may feel shameful in recognizing that their own age puts them into such an unpopular category. Among the many characteristics associated with a millennial, they are often considered to be entitled, selfish, lazy, and attached to their phones. However, while it’s easy to look down on the younger, naïve generation, this negative stereotype existed long before Y2K. The narrative of self-involved youngsters has been passed from one generation to the next. In fact, the Baby Boomers were the original “Me Generation,” and Generation X was labeled even more narcissistic than the Baby Boomers. What this trend actually represents is that it isn’t generations that differ heavily from one to the next, but rather young people may simply act more selfishly than their elders. And, while younger folks may lack some real-world experience that comes with age, millennials are hardly the caricatures that they are portrayed as in the media. Among the challenges for today’s millennials entering into the workforce, their unique circumstances make them appear more selfish than prior generations. As anyone looks to begin their careers, they want a good-paying job, ways to pay off student loan debt, and may be looking to get married or buy a home. However, for a generation entering the workforce in the aftermath of the Great Recession, millennials have found that with rising student debt, stagnating wages, and high competition, getting started in life has not been easy. As a result, they may look for any way possible to get an edge up in the workplace. Millennials, while not the first generation to be afforded less respect in the workplace, are particularly stereotyped as unmotivated: from the view of many senior professionals, they are addicted to social media, and they crave accolades that they have yet to earn. However, there is research that suggests otherwise. In addition to feeling as though they are not taken seriously, millennials entered the job market at a time when the unemployment rate was at an all-time high, and they are afraid of losing their jobs. As a result, many in this generation aren’t actually lazy at all—according to Harvard Business Review, they’re work martyrs. A work martyr goes one step beyond a workaholic; not only are millennials working a lot, but they will make more personal sacrifices in order to stay on top of their work or prove that they are an indispensable employee. This fear of being replaceable is evident: while only 17% of Baby Boomers and 19% of Gen Xers gave up unused vacation time they had earned, Harvard Business Review noted that 24% of Millennials did the same—even though as younger employees, they earn less time off. In addition to fearing unemployment, millennials have gotten used to working more for less pay. While they accepted lower wages in the wake of the recession, there is also an overall trend of stagnating wages over the last 40 years. More specifically, according to the Economic Policy Institute, wages of young college graduates have been falling since 2000. Average hourly wages in 2001 for men and women were $18.55—a figure which fell to $16.99 by 2013. Part of this ‘workaholic’ characterization also comes from the fact that millennials typically work longer hours than their coworkers—though not necessarily in the office. While many consider millennials’ attachment to their phones as a bad thing, they are looking at more than just Instagram—they’re also checking email. As the first fully-connected generation, millennials have never left the office at 5:00 pm fully unplugged from work. Because they are always connected, they have a harder time drawing clear divisions when it comes to work-life balance, and they’ll usually answer that important email coming through after-hours. While millennials may still be young, the simple fact that they are handier with a smartphone and may lack experience is hardly a reason to paint them as more narcissistic or lazy than previous generations, as many older professionals used to be not so different from them. As the largest segment of the workforce, millennials will continue to grow into their shoes and prove that they are more than capable to thrive in the workforce. Edward Fleischman is the founder and CEO of The Execu|Search Group
23 February 2017
Since the Great Recession, a number of regulatory mandates have forced an increasing number of financial institutions to focus more of their efforts on due diligence. As a means of cutting operational costs while maintaining an emphasis on being compliant throughout the industry, hedge funds and banks alike have outsourced many operational roles, particularly fund administrators. Jerry Battipaglia, a Managing Director of The Execu|Search Group’s Financial Services division, routinely coaches candidates through the benefits of working as a fund administrator. “The responsibilities of a fund administrator have evolved significantly over the years and it’s grown to be a perfect role for finance professionals interested in making a transition to work at a hedge fund,” says Jerry. If you’re looking for ways to take your career to the next level, here are three FAQs about working as a fund administrator: What will you gain from these roles? If you want to develop both the technical and soft skills you need to make a smooth transition to a hedge fund, a fund administrator can be one of the best ways to perfect the skills you need to stand out to hiring managers. “Fund administrators are in a unique position as they usually work closest with the hedge fund managers, and as a result, get a first-hand glimpse into a hedge fund’s operational processes,” highlights Jerry. For fund administrators on the buy side, working with a variety of hedge fund clients may help to increase your overall financial product knowledge. “As product diversity is an important part of being an effective fund administrator, exposure to various products may help to give you a competitive advantage over other job seekers,” stresses Jerry. Financial institutions are also always investing money in using new systems and technology, and for fund administrators this can serve as a great way to stay up to date on a variety of trade management systems. For example, MarkitWire, Moxy, or Eze Castle, are just a number of in-demand trade management systems that you may have the opportunity to learn how to use. “Overall, this exposure to product diversity and technical advances can make you a more marketable and desirable candidate if your ultimate goal is to work at a hedge fund,” says Jerry. What should you expect? As a fund administrator, you will typically work directly with hedge fund managers, and as a result you will have the opportunity to develop relationships with a variety of hedge fund clients. “While you might not be working for a specific hedge fund, building a strong working relationship with the fund managers through your responsibilities is another way to make a good impression and ultimately get your foot in the door down the road,” highlights Jerry. In addition, fund administrators get a glance into what the working environment could be like at a particular hedge fund. “Whether you’re in search of a positive work-life balance or looking for an employer that has a small start-up feel, a fund administrator exposes you to many elements of working at a hedge fund,” says Jerry. What are employers looking for in prospective candidates? “Prospective employers are typically in search of fund administrators that are willing to learn new concepts, systems, and processes to effectively manage their client’s confidential information,” notes Jerry. Therefore, if you’ve had exposure to different asset classes (e.g., equities, fixed income, etc.), this may broaden your ability to support a wide class of strategies and asset classes at different hedge funds. Additionally, as technological advances continue to impact the finance industry, strong technical skills and staying up to date on certain trade management systems will set you apart from competition. Along the same lines, strong communication skills are a must as you should be able to articulate different investment strategies that will serve the client’s needs and help the business to grow. “The more you can point to examples of how you’ve utilized various transferable skills in the past, the higher your chances are of being hired by a hedge fund,” says Jerry.