Julian Robertson, the founder and former CEO of Tiger Management, is no less than a legendary figure in the hedge fund arena. Our own CEO, Skiddy von Stade, calls him one of the greatest investors of all time. So, when he talks about what it takes to make it as a hedge fund manager, or what qualities a manager is looking for when hiring individuals for hedge fund jobs, it's time to listen.
What was Robertson's first tip to young workers? That they should spend some time serving their country outside of the financial arena, if only for a few years. Robertson himself served two years in the U.S. Navy.
"I don't think it's necessary that [young people] spend time in the Navy, or the Army, or the Air Force … but I think they should offer a couple of years of service to the country," Robertson said to von Stade. "Whether that's the Peace Corps, or any other sort of overseas government thing … I think that's a very good thing for both the country and the person."
Eventually, Robertson returned from his military service as a stockbroker and later founded his own hedge fund, Tiger Management. At its height, Robertson's hedge fund had roughly $22 billion in assets to its name.
What Robertson looks for while hiring
Robertson isn't just one of the great hedge fund managers – von Stade also notes that he considers Robertson to be one of the greatest recruiters the industry has ever seen. So, what does Julian Robertson look for in his own talent?
"The most important thing with hedge fund managers is that they're smart and that they're honest," he told us. "Close behind that is probably competitiveness. We really like competitors… someone who won't lose doesn't lose!"
Robertson has even mentored some of the individuals in our previous Open Door interviews, such as Philippe Lafonte. This illustrates the great success he's found in the industry: not only has Robertson made a name for himself, but he's helped to make a name for many of the individuals who worked for him. This makes one fact irrefutable: Robertson has proven himself to be a mainstay in the finance industry, and his opinions on the field are invaluable. When we asked him what had changed about hedge fund jobs and firms in the past years, he was able to give us an incredibly informed opinion.
"I think that there's still huge opportunities in hedge funds," he told us decisively, when we asked about changes in government regulations. "I still think that this is the way to go … I think it's gotten tougher, primarily, because we're competing with more hedge funds, rather than individual investors."