- Hedge funds are known for top-notch comp, and applications for H-1B visas reveal what some pay.
- Managers like Bridgewater, Citadel, Point72, AQR, and more rely on dozens of non-US citizens.
- Base salaries break six figures at nearly all funds, and that’s not even including bonuses.
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For many Wall Street aspirants, a career at a top hedge fund is the holy grail. For those who succeed, compensation has the potential to eclipse nearly any other profession in the country — let alone finance.
The hedge fund industry has transformed over the past 15 years. Whereas fundamental investment strategies once ruled the day, increasingly the flow of talent and capital is shifting toward firms with sophisticated quantitative strategies and data-mining operations.
Today, most of the largest and most successful funds have significant quant operations, if not a complete emphasis on quantitative investing. Firms like AQR, Bridgewater, Citadel, D.E. Shaw, Point72, and Two Sigma vigorously compete for the most promising young financial minds — and they pay hefty sums to lure in top candidates.
Bonuses play an outsized role in overall comp at most funds, especially in investment roles, but base salaries are still substantial and figure prominently especially at the more junior levels, where employees typically have a less direct impact on overall returns.
Some of the brightest minds in systematic trading and quantitative research were born and educated outside the US, and some funds stock their US rosters with foreign labor. When US companies file paperwork for visas on behalf of current or prospective foreign workers, they’re required to say how much base compensation the workers are offered. And every year, the Office of Foreign Labor Certification discloses this salary data in an enormous dataset.
Business Insider analyzed the agency’s disclosure data from the fourth quarter of 2020 through the second quarter of 2021 for permanent and temporary foreign workers to shed light on what these hedge funds paid for talent. The jobs were based around the country and do not reflect bonuses, which can be substantial.
According to US Department of Labor documentation, the offered wages in the disclosure data are the minimum amounts companies provided in foreign labor certification applications for specific workers.
The wages are derived from the average compensation that similar employees in each given job, industry, and with comparable qualifications are paid, which is known as the “prevailing wage.” Prevailing wage sets a floor for their salary, but salaries are often much higher than the prevailing wage.
Representatives for the funds either did not respond to or declined requests for comment.