As major multi-strategy hedge funds go, Balyasny Asset Management is one of the gentlest of the bunch. It also pays unusually well. And it’s actively out there, building a data science team from the bottom-up.
In the past few weeks, Balyasny has made multiple hires for its data science team in London, many of them from rival funds. They include Cassy Singh (from Man Group), Ellis-Fauve Barden-King (from Citadel) and Scott Donnelly (from T Rowe Price). London’s data science headhunters say there are plenty more new hires at the fund to come.
The European build out marks the latest stage in Balyasny’s data science evolution under chief data officer Carson Boneck, who joined from S&P Global Market Intelligence in 2016 and was promoted to the senior data role three years ago.
“I love recruiting A-players and setting them loose,” Boneck enthused on the Alternative Data Podcast last week. When he arrived at Balyasny, Boneck said the fund had a team of “maybe 10 folks” working on market data feeds. He didn’t say how many data scientists Balyasny has now, but it’s certainly more than 100.
Last year’s recruits in London included Alan Huyn as head of macro data science (also from T Rowe Price), Canh Duong from Revolut, and Simon Day from Citadel. In the U.S., Boneck hired Joon Yang, a research fellow from Harvard, and Christopher Olson from AQR Capital Management.
Boneck agrees with the characterization that Balyasny is a comparatively “kind” place to work. Although it now employs 1,000 people and has 120 investment teams, BAM is smaller than rivals like Citadel and Millennium and is focused on collaboration, he says. “I always describe our culture as a bit American mid-western,” he says on the podcast. “Hard- working, diligent.…devoid of a lot of the Chicago politics.”
Boneck says data scientists who join Balyasny’s growing team will be working on products that can be put to use across the fund rather than in competing teams. These include Antenna, a data ingestion tool that allows data providers to post data sets and to get them back tested almost immediately by a Balyasny risk model. There’s also a whole new data system for equities trading.
If you want to get a job at Balyasny, you’ll need to demonstrate that you’re hard-working (“We bust our guts here,” says Boneck, adding that the founders lead by example and work 24/7, 365 days a year), collaborative, and able to translate data into something actionable. Boneck says he’s looking for Pythonistas who can bridge the “subtlety and pain” that comes from working with data and from generating trade ideas.
If you’re successful, you could be very well-remunerated indeed. Average pay at Balyasny in London was $1.8m in 2020. This average includes portfolio managers who are almost certainly paid a lot more than mere data scientists, but recruiters say Balyasny is generous and pays its data people on a par with Citadel. Total compensation for experienced data scientists at Balyasny is typically between £150k-£300k ($203k-$406k), says one.
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