Hedge funds in Singapore are training 16-year-old interns to manage the wealth of billionaires moving to the city

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  • School children in Singapore are being exposed to money management through hedge fund opportunities.
  • As a number of billionaires have moved to the city, Singapore has noted a shortage of qualified money managers.
  • The government has launched a series of measures to boost local hiring rather than relying on expats.
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Hedge funds based in Singapore are training interns as young as 16 to work as portfolio managers for wealthy people moving to the city, according to Bloomberg.

Multibillion-dollar funds, family offices, and private-equity firms have moved to the city-state from other parts of Asia, Europe, and the US over growing concerns of Hong Kong’s status. Months of pro-democracy protests last year and China’s imposition of a national security law have undermined Hong Kong’s autonomy.

Google co-founder Sergey Brin, billionaire hedge fund manager Ray Dalio, and Dyson vacuum cleaner inventor James Dyson have all set up offices in Singapore because of low costs and other incentives.

The number of single-family offices has ballooned to about 200 in recent years, while overall assets under management jumped 16% in 2020 to $US2.9 ($4) trillion, according to Bloomberg. Finding that it may be short on qualified money-management professionals, the city is actively looking to build up its next generation of investment managers.

High schooler Yi Ke Cao spent two weeks last summer at a $US1 ($1) billion Singaporean hedge fund, Modular Asset Management. She managed to beat 10 peers to nab the internship opportunity. Cao found herself diving into spreadsheets and observing meetings that involved money managers defending their investment ideas.

“I was a bit terrified, I didn’t know how to react to them speaking to me and I didn’t know how to hold a conversation but they were welcoming,” Cao, who is now 17, told Bloomberg. “I’m definitely more likely to consider it now.”

Having long been considered the city of choice for Western expats, the Singapore government is seeking to boost local hires, rather than rely on global talent. Late last year, the government launched a series of measures to support the development of those in the financial sector. As part of training subsidies, it offers to cover as much as $US75,000 ($96,399) in costs when financial institutions send their staff for overseas postings.

The CEO of Quantedge Capital, a $US2.5 ($3) billion asset manager, told Bloomberg most of its new talent would likely come from internships. From a selection of 300 resumes, 10 people were handed five-week internships. Ultimately, only three secured a job.

Singapore at one time produced “graduates who’d have the ability to join banks and big financial institutions because those were the names we were trying to draw into Singapore,” he said. “Today the nature of the job has changed.”