REVEALED: What It's Like Working Inside The World's Biggest Hedge Fund

Bridgewater Associates is a top-performing hedge fund and the world’s biggest macro fund.

Like many firms, its investment strategies are jealously guarded secrets. But Bridgewater is shrouded in added mystery—the company is run strictly according to founder Ray Dalio’s infamous Principles on a (relatively) remote Westport, CT campus.

This has led to accusations of cultishness. New York Magazine called it a “$94 billion human behavioural experiment that doubles as a Connecticut-based hedge fund.”

So what’s it really like to work there? Good luck getting any employees on the record. That’s why we’ve scoured this Bridgewater job listing at One Day, One Job; the comments are a treasure trove, three years’ worth of frank discussion about life inside “the world’s richest and strangest hedge fund.”

'Basically an all day pissing contest, 'I'm smarter', 'NO, I'm smarter' 'No…I am' 'Well then submit an issue on it, explaining why you're lack of ability in seeing my superior intellect is preventing you from agreeing that I am smarter.' It was a joke. Let me tell it like this, if you're into going to work everyday and giving 100%, then being graded a C or B- for the span of your career there…then apply.'

'Submit an issue' refers to the company's practice of rigorous transparency. All employees are encouraged to criticise each other openly--even, in theory, their superiors.

Source: One Day, One Job

Actually, being challenged constantly is great if you can handle it.

'That is Bridgewater in a nutshell -- set the bar as high as possible, then triple that. If you find the idea of being stretched with incredibly difficult work, told very precisely and very critically where you have succeeded and where you have come up short, and then being given even harder work for the next go around to be an appealing one, then you will like Bridgewater.'

Source: One Day, One Job

You will thrive—and bank—if you're at LEAST Ivy League calibre.

The culture can be overwhelming.

'In theory the culture of the place sounds great, no hierarchy, you are encouraged to challenge authority, completely open environment. In practice though, the place is a nightmare.
 For me personally no matter how much they paid me I would not work there again (FYI: the salary was great but I felt as I hold sold my soul to the devil). There were too many things that I could not ignore. Like an earlier poster said it was like a daily pissing contest trying to prove who's smarter.'

Source: One Day, One Job

For this early employee, Bridgewater is the one that got away.

'I should have stayed with Ray back in 1985 working at the Bridgewater Wilton barn office. Little did I know to heed their advice to stay for they had 'something big' about to happen. Had I had any sense whatsoever in that naiveknowbetterthaneveryone blond head on mine with my gibbs girl degree, I might be pretty darn well off today.'

'Gibbs girl degree' may refer to training at Katherine Gibbs Schools. They 'once set the gold standard for glorified secretaries' but became more of a technical-school program over time.

Source: One Day, One Job

All the over-communication can be helpful.

'That's the beautiful thing about Bridgewater -- if you get too much work, and can explain why it's unreasonable, you can change your situation. If you can't communicate this, you'll fail.'

Source: One Day, One Job

Transparency can take the form of sniping your coworkers.

'Raising an issue every now and again would be good if it was't abused and used for petty items. It's like saying 'I love you' to everyone, everyday, all the time, the meaning and purpose get diminished, as does the usefulness of their issue log tool--because it's over-utilized. When I worked there… someone forgot their badge, so they had to call a bwater employee to let them in, would you believe the employee that let that person in submitted an issue log basically stating that time was lost, their activity for the day had been negatively impacted due to having to get up and walk downstairs to let the person in…'

Apparently that kind of hypercritical environment is not the exception at the firm, but the norm. It matches up with the quotes from interviews AR Magazine conducted, as collected by Dealbreaker.

Source: One Day, One Job

People go overboard in their devotion to the central document.

'BW believes it takes about 18 months to fully inculcate a person into their culture. It will be a long and possibly tortuous process. There are over 100 mgt. principles from the Ray-man himself, and people tote copies around with them and refer to it as if it were the Bible. Reminds me of an old joke, where there were a bunch of guys in a prison, and every once in a while a prisoner would shout out a number and everyone would laugh. Finally one of the guards asked what was going on. One of the prisoners said that they all were in jail so long together, that they all knew the same jokes so well, that after a while the prisoners just shouted out a number and everyone knew what the joke was. Same at BW, someone refers to principle number 71, and everyone nods in sage agreement.'

Source: One Day, One Job

They're only trying to make you a better person.

'Reading the comments about 'negative culture' and 'pissing contests' feels like looking at Bridgewater through a funhouse mirror… I recognise the activities that the posters are describing, but the descriptions are completely missing the point. Bridgewater values getting to the right answer through open-minded debate, and personal growth via learning from mistakes. Obviously, if those are your values, you're going to spend a lot of time focusing on problems and giving critical feedback, but I really believe that the vast majority of the time the intent is to make the team better and help people grow, and if you're able to check your ego at the door and engage with it you can learn and gain responsibility really quickly.'

Source: One Day, One Job

You either hit the jackpot or fail, so be like Bridgewater and hedge your bet.

'Once you join, very quickly you are either 'in' with the right crowd (which means your life is made!) or out, which means you should look for another job. It's got nothing to do with talent, but that is how they justify it inside. Since your life is made if you get 'in' (which is a gamble worth playing), you should take up a job with Bridgewater if offered one. But see if you can get your ex-employer to keep the door open for you in case it doesn't work out.'

Source: One Day, One Job

Now check out how to thrive in an environment like that >>

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