Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Bronte Capital is hiring

APPLICATIONS ARE NOW CLOSED. We received 270 plus - and we are finalizing a short list...

Now we have hired. Thanks for your interest.

We are a small, fairly rapidly growing hedge fund with a good record and very few staff. More precisely we are a long-value equity fund with an esoteric and successful short book on the side.

Our record is well into the top-decile for hedge funds globally – and we intend on keeping it there. We are idea driven and risk-management obsessed.

We are happier hiring outside the traditional hiring loop. A science background with genuine interest in investment for instance is preferred over investment experience. Some unconventional combinations (computer science and criminology for instance) will be looked on favorably.  

Most - but not all of the work will be directed to identifying short-sale candidates however an interest in more conventional value investing would be useful too.


Our short book involves mass diversification of frauds, fads and failures with an emphasis on frauds. 

We are looking for one (and maybe more than one) analyst to be based in Bondi Junction (Sydney) Australia. One hire must have high-level computer skills. If we fill that position we may select a second person on a broader skill set.

Our work place is intellectual, playful, casual. A core job requirement is to be able to tell us when we are wrong. We are not looking for sycophants - telling us what we want to hear is of no use if it is not telling us what makes money. There are other organizations where being political pays but this is not one of them.

The successful applicant will however probably be more implementation driven than us. [We are hiring in part to cover our weaknesses!]

You will need to be self-motivated. Hours can and will be long, but clothing casual and if you want to come into work late because the surf is good that will sometimes be OK. Performance and output matters considerably more than face time.

We expect that a successful applicant will eventually be an equity participant in the business.

As we run a global fund from Sydney a successful applicant can expect some international travel.

Our main requirement is for an analyst who is really interested in the stock market and has well developed skills in data management and computer systems development. We aim to develop some very large data sets which will help us identify likely candidates for short-selling globally. We already identify literally hundreds of short-candidates annually and we are currently short over 100 names. The computerisation of this process is our main medium term task. Much of our edge is in knowing what sort of attributes are indications of fraud or weak performance. It is this high level filtering and screening that we need to automate on the short side at this time. This will involve large data bases of relatively low frequency (daily or even monthly close, not ticks) but high granularity (every item on the financial statement, outstanding option positions, cost of borrow, short interest and availability).

Programming skills are a requirement. Experience with technology that allows structured queries and searches on datasets (financial and non-financial) are a major advantage.

A working interest in epistemology is also useful.

Applications by email via the blog email - or through our website -


PS. This post will be removed when we have found the right candidate. I have no intention of being inundated with CVs forever.

PPS. I have not taken advice on Australian immigration law but my understanding is that the law requires that I actively try to recruit an Australian and - failing that - I may open the offer up more widely. This is the path that I am taking anyway (pending contrary advice). Remote work is possible - but personally I have been unsuccessful in the past trying to manage it - so it is unlikely.


Anonymous said...

John - have you ever considered applying artificial intelligence techniques to your database to identify potential fraud candidates?

If possible fraud can be found via numerical relationships, trends, or statements, I think there is at least a decent chance it's worth some programming time.

Anonymous said...

Dream job !

Anonymous said...

Have you considered asking some one to pay you for the privelege of working with you and Simon :P?

Dan Davies said...

If I remember from the original Altman z-score paper, diminishing returns set in very quickly once you get past the key ratios that everyone knows about - it's actually very rare to find a failure that looked A-OK on profits/sales, cash/assets and debtor days. Having a good and reliable database is always a big win, but it's the data itself that will be important rather than the application of sophisticated mining techniques to it.

Anonymous said...

Will work for a capiq/BBG login cause I'm gonna lose mine soon.

guy who told you not to get into wamu, way back when

polit2k said...


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Luke said...

I had to google what epistemology was, so I guess I'm out

Anonymous said...

Nassim Taleb is into epistemology, but I guess he's busy.

BlackCat said...

As a programmer, this looks interesting:

How do you input your data into the system? It would be time consuming to key in the numbers from manually reading pdf financial statements?

How well defined the analysis? Are they simple, repeatable steps (eg: get me the companies with the greatest yoy increases in accts receivable days or inventory days) or is it more fuzzy (eg: staring at a spreadsheet looking for patterns or lack of)?

Anonymous said...

What language would development be in ?

Anonymous said...

You might put an ad in PhilJobs or Jobs For Philosophers. Epistemology is our beat, and although the typical philosopher would be of no use to you there could easily be one with exactly the computer/quant skills and market orientation you are looking for. (Admittedly you'll get inundated with irrelevant cv's....)

. said...

The people you really want are already on the beach reading Kripke and Chalmers and enjoying life.

Cheers from the beach.

Anonymous said...

First off have you considered a simpler alternative to a huge SQL database? – maybe at a squeeze you could use an excel spreadsheet and may be best as a quicker to get up and running stop gap solution from which you will get a lot of pre handling of errors experience before starting on the big project where identification might be harder. You would have the simplification for trial basis of pulling all data for a name into one Excel sheet (from different sources).

I looked at doing EXACTLY what you plan to do for the same reason for my own trading just before being hired away from it – now back to trading my own book full time and needing to pick up where I left off. My finally arrived at simpler solution was to have been to use an excel spreadsheet with a macro that picked symbols one at a time from a list, waited for the financial statements to load and then wrote the name to another list when certain criteria were met/triggered – could be done if only one identified and/or a scoring system or if x is triggered and score is also above x e.g. two other criteria met. My idea was to leave it running with a list overnight and pick up the output list in the morning. Symbols could be entered manually to pull up all the data on a stock.

Parsing info from web pages may or may not be a difficulty but with the approach above you would stay within the possible data limits of Interactive Brokers API if you want to incorporate info from that i.e. number of shares YOU can short, not how many a Goldman tier1 client can get. Not sure how you would incorporate data from sites like EDGAR full text search site and SEC correspondences releases– maybe goes beyond straightforward parsing (statutory filings are in database/parsing friendlier format maybe).

So maybe don’t rule out excel 2010/13 64 bit with it’s vastly increased number of cells and memory addressing ability – albeit maybe still less than 64 bit operating system memory upper limits – we used excel for our regional databases for all stocks covered ten years ago. Also just about everything interfaces with Excel – think html parsing of web pages – both programs are Microsoft and designed to work together. Downside of 64 bit is that any tools based on e.g. Excel add-ins or dll’s not yet written in 64 bit won’t work.

I assume you need to compare things internally to identify things that are out of line from a business or accounting perspective, but also to comparable businesses – this last is maybe a problem with automated screening as from recent experience Capital IQ auto generated comps (and from memory Bloomberg comps also) leave a LOT to be desired. With capital IQ I had to select names as comparables manually every single time – usually some from companies that were not on the auto generated comps list. Also there are sometimes few real comparables with many listed companies - something in the same industry can be a different business model so you could be comparing a revenue business model with a cost model, or one that uses easy credit as a marketing tool etc.

Anonymous said...

ADD Also creation of a model in Excel with your criteria present would give your SQLprogrammer concrete examples of what you wanted and how things would need to be translated into SQL. I have worked on these projects with database people at brokers and that was very easy – they even made suggestions, but someone who is not from a financial statement analysis background i.e. SQL specialist might have problems without concrete examples.

Anonymous said...

For serious data analysis, an SQL server is such a better way to go (rather than excel) in my opinion. Excel makes an ok front end interface and is an incredible tool, but I think using an SQL server ultimately makes so many things more efficient.

SQL is very powerful and is reasonably easy to learn.

I can definitely understand the sentiment of looking for someone with a non finance background but with the aptitude to learn to the subject matter. However, I also think you should not underestimate the communications gap that may slow the project until the newbie gets up to speed.

I wonder if you might be better going the other way and get a bright analyst and get them to learn SQL and programming quickly?

If I did not already love my job and proximity to the beach (lunch time surfs without city crowds!) I would tell you that I think I have much but not all of the skillset you seek.

Anonymous said...

Sadly you guys are in Bondi, if it was Manly then I might be tempted to move back from NY.

On the subject of which tech stack to use I thought I would weigh in. Am I qualified to comment, maybe not, but I did (with a few others) write MacBanks original derivatives system HOOPS (still in use today), along with the extensive historic data collection system ( real time scraping of data from Reuters old greenscreens into atomic data elements that were sent around the network for realtime analytics ... in 1987).
And I have more recently been #2 on the management team at one of the largest of the TBTF Bank Prop teams, where the majority of the PM's were CompSci/PureMaths/Physics types.

So here is my take.

- forget AI/Machine learning, you wont have enough data to build valid models. Also Machine Learning models for finance are different to machine learning models for physical processes and you will need to roll your own, not an easy or cheap undertaking.

- Excel has cost many organizations billions. Its near impossible to do change management of spreadsheets without expensive 3rd party systems, and if you are going to be betting OPM then you need to be sure the right version of the model/data is in use, and you need to be able to prove this ex-post in a court of law if needed.
Having said that Excel is a great front end if you can hide all the data management.

- the current "stack" that most people seem to be moving towards in finance is something like

Web Server based, all the data collection scripts and some of the routine reports / searches are initiated from a webpage on the server.

Python as the main scripting language
[simply because its more readable than PHP/Perl and has every library you can think of]. Use SQLAlchemy as a database interface and Pyramid as a simple server ( just Google it all)

SQL database (MySQL or Postgres) and flat files (csv) along with JSON or XML structured files as datastore (each has it strengths and weaknesses, all of which should be hidden by the server)

The front end can be a mix of webpages , and Excel.

I would avoid using SQL queries as the main scripting tool.

Do yourself a big favour by choosing some flavour of Linux as your server architecture and make sure you use GIT to version everything (code and datafiles!) in sight so you can figure out how you F'd up (coz you will at some stage).

Let us know your progress.


Anonymous said...

I suggest the most important thing for you to keep in mind is that your work is basically academic. You construct theoretical arguments or simple models, then make fairly simple tests (OK, you have more unstated assumptions than an academic, but still).

Maybe you can refine things for a while, but pretty soon you reach the limits of what you can surmise, take a small position or not, and luxuriously move on for a while to a new puzzle. Your work is likely to be: flexible, dynamic, news-driven, spit-balled, error-prone, rushed, creative, abstract.

Unless you can find an applicant with experience in a similar environment I'd say you are likely to find your IT guy to be an odd duck.

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