Competition for talent on Wall Street is fierce.
Banks, hamstrung by regulators on compensation and battling the stereotype of an onerous work culture, have seen a talent flight to investing firms and Silicon Valley.
For their part, alternative-asset managers have experienced massive growth and a flood of inbound capital, requiring an ever-larger stable of investment professionals to manage the load. There’s a perfect storm for hiring in private equity right now, and firms are starting their hunt for the next crop of young analysts earlier each year.
Making the right hiring decisions has rarely been more critical. And headhunters, often unseen to the outside world, specialize in making sure C-suite execs, managing directors, and portfolio managers get it right.
Introducing Business Insider’s list of the best up-and-coming headhunters on Wall Street.
After surveying finance stalwarts who regularly employ recruiting firms – as well as the upper brass of recruiting firms themselves – we’ve assembled a group of headhunters who have excelled at placing talent early and often in their young careers.
This list is by no means comprehensive. To be eligible, apart from sterling endorsements and a strong track record, we asked that nominees be based in or around New York City and be 40 years old or under.
Here’s our list of the top young headhunters everyone on Wall Street should know.
Hilary Wilson, 26, Amity Search Partners
Hilary Wilson had something of a serendipitous journey to finance recruiting. She studied history at Princeton University and didn’t have a clear idea of what career path she wanted – except that it needed to feature a steep learning curve and great people to work with.
A mentor at a hedge fund suggested headhunting and put her in touch with a contact at Amity Search Partners. It checked her boxes and proved the right fit; she joined after graduating in 2013.
Since then, she’s focused on recruiting young banking analysts and consultants for roles at megafund alternative asset managers. Wilson manages 10 to 15 searches for private-equity firms and hedge funds at any given time.
Joshua Fitzgerald, 27, GQR
Joshua Fitzgerald, 27, a vice president at New York-based GQR, focuses on placing tech talent at Wall Street’s largest banks and trading firms.
The Brunel University graduate spent the majority of his upbringing in the UK and is a fervent soccer fan. Fitzgerald got his start at BAH Partners, a headhunting firm in Hong Kong, where he focused on technology. He joined GQR in 2015.
Fitzgerald started off working in systematic and electronic trading but has shifted to front-office technologies. He has placed more than 100 senior executives in the financial-services industry.
Alexandra Dean, 28, Goldsmith and Co.
Alexandra Dean, 28, has worked in asset-management recruiting for New York-based Goldsmith and Co. since graduating from the University of Pennsylvania in 2010.
Dean joined as one of the first employees of the boutique search firm, and she focuses on hiring investors, particularly direct investors in the public and private-equity worlds, as well as allocators, on behalf of endowments, family offices, and foundations. Dean has worked on searches for capital raisers, relationship managers, and C-level executives.
An investor who was placed by Dean touted her many connections within the elusive family-office space in particular, saying Dean’s vision was instrumental in landing this investor their current role.
Charlie Anderson, Heidrick and Struggles, 29
Charlie Anderson didn’t jump straight into headhunting after graduating from Lehigh University in 2010. He’d studied business and marketing, and he was attracted to Wall Street, so he took a position in analytics focusing on equities at Bloomberg.
He was promoted to sales and, in 2013, after a couple of years as an account manager for Bloomberg Core Terminal clients in the tristate area, he jumped at the opportunity to take on a more strategic and consultative challenge, landing a job in executive search at Heidrick and Struggles as an associate. He was promoted to engagement manager at the beginning of 2016, and also served as the associate director for the firm’s financial-services practices in the Americas in 2016-17.
Anderson focuses on placing senior investment-banking professionals – think managing directors and group heads – in addition to filling some broader corporate strategy, development, and chief-officer roles, managing 10 to 20 searches at any time.
Amy O’Halloran, 31, Wall Street Options
Amy O’Halloran, a recruiting director at Wall Street Options, joined the headhunting business in 2013 after working for Douglas Elliman as a real-estate broker for four years.
In a sense, her career didn’t change that drastically. She just swapped million-dollar listings for million-dollar talent.
The 31-year-old spends much of her time filling C-Suite positions at bulge-bracket banks and private-equity firms. The Bucknell graduate works out of her office in New York but also places talent in Florida. She isn’t afraid to get granular when researching leads and leveraging social media to connect with placements. It’s paid off as she has placed more than 100 senior executives.
Dan Lennon, 32, McTammany Partners
Dan Lennon, 32, of McTammany Partners, focuses on placing investors with fundamental strategies, predominantly at long-short equity hedge funds. He also advises investment startups on growing their businesses and has worked with top-tier funds, long-only funds, seeding platforms, family offices, and separately managed account platforms.
His recruits have experience ranging from two to 15 years, including analysts and portfolio managers.
Lennon, who is based in San Francisco and also works from New York, graduated in 2007 from Boston College, where he played football. He taught maths and worked as a dean at a public school in the Bronx for four years with Teach for America before moving into recruiting.
Kate Meserve Shahrestani, 32, Athena Search Partners
Kate Meserve Shahrestani, 32, launched her boutique recruitment firm, Athena Search Partners, in 2015.
She recruits across financial services with a focus on hedge funds, and particularly investment professionals. Based in Dallas and New York, she works with clients across the US.
Shahrestani’s business is young but has already garnered several fans. One investor who worked with Shahrestani touted her advice: “What I found incredibly refreshing was that Kate genuinely cared about my career goals – it wasn’t just about the next seat, but what style and structure made sense over the long run. To this day I seek Kate’s opinion on my career questions.”
Another said that Shahrestani stood out for her attention to detail: “She would get on the phone with me (sometimes hours at a time) before every round of an interview and help walk me through the types of questions they asked and what they looked for in an ideal candidate.”
Shahrestani got her start on Wall Street in institutional equity sales at Credit Suisse. She later worked at SAC Capital, where she worked in talent recruitment, and was director of business development and marketing at UBS O’Connor. She graduated from Yale in 2007 with a degree in American history.
Megan Henze, 34, Ratio Advisors
Megan Henze has been in the headhunting business since graduating in 2005 from Williams College, where she studied art history and played on the varsity squash team. She started out at SG Partners before leaving in 2009 for Amity Search Partners, one of the top recruiting firms for private equity and hedge funds.
She spent two of her eight years there building out the firm’s San Francisco office and reached the rank of principal.
Last year Henze and three Amity veterans split off and founded recruiting boutique Ratio Advisors, a team of seven that also focuses on placing top young Wall Street talent at a wide variety of asset managers. Henze, a partner, focuses on pre-MBA and post-MBA candidates.
Jennifer Zagoren, 34, Dynamics Search Partners
Jennifer Zagoren spends much of her time attracting new financial-services clients and then making phone calls and grabbing coffee with Wall Street’s most promising fresh talent to help place them at those companies. Traditionally, that’s meant hiring for coveted spots at private-equity firms and hedge funds, but, consistent with industry trends, more and more young financiers are gravitating toward the tech industry, family offices, and endowments.
Finance and headhunting wasn’t the original plan. A lifelong opera singer, Zagoren studied singing and medicine at the University of Iowa, but she pursued neither after college, going on to complete a master’s in public administration at Drake University before joining Dynamics Search Partners in 2007. She’s been there for a decade.
Ben Beardslee, 35, The Hagan-Ricci Group
Ben Beardslee, a senior recruiter at The Hagan-Ricci Group, joined the headhunting world soon after graduating Ithaca College in 2004.
The 35-year-old started at the firm in 2006 and has helped placed top talent at leading proprietary and high-frequency-trading firms across the world in the US, Hong Kong, Singapore, and London.
He has placed more than 10 people in C-Suite positions, including Kirsten Wegner, the CEO of trade group Modern Markets Initiative.
Wegner described Beardslee to Business Insider as a “super-nice guy. I was probably the first DC-policy wonk he worked with.”
Beardslee’s sweet spot is in filling senior portfolio management and quantitative research positions.
David McCormack, 39, DMC Partners
David McCormack, 39, founded New York-based firm DMC Partners in 2015 and fintech search firm Broadhaven Associates in 2017. He focuses on hiring for banks, broker dealers, and hedge funds, building teams and acquisitions for the buy and sell sides.
At hedge funds, McCormack focuses on C-level executives and portfolio managers for a range of strategies: long-short equity, quant, volatility, and event-driven strategies.
At banks and broker dealers, he does searches ranging from global heads to vice presidents within cash, derivatives and prime brokerage across research, sales and trading, including electronic trading.
McCormack, an Irish native, started his career as an institutional equity sales trader at Merrill Lynch in London.
Liz Simpson, Heidrick and Struggles, 39
Before Liz Simpson made a living headhunting executives for banks, she was a rising star in banking herself. Simpson jumped into investment banking after graduating from college in 2000, joining Salomon Smith Barney, which later dropped its name and adopted that of its parent company, Citigroup.
She worked in corporate finance within industry groups as well as in strategy and management positions, rising to the business manager role in the technology, media, and telecom group before leaving in May 2008, amid the early stages of the unfolding financial crisis.
For her second act, Simpson joined Heidrick and Struggles, focusing on recruiting chief financial officers and other senior financial-services professionals, hiring for everything from private-equity shops and hedge funds to real estate, fintech, and insurance companies.
Simpson was named a partner in 2015 and heads the financial-services practice in New York.