What it's like to work at the most successful hedge fund in the world, where 30% of new employees don't make it and those who do are considered 'intellectual Navy SEALs'

CBSEmployees are constantly under surveillance at Bridgewater, the world’s biggest hedge fund.
  • Though the billionaire Ray Dalio avoids bringing cameras into his hedge fund, Bridgewater Associates, CBS’s “60 Minutes” recently got an exclusive look into its day-to-day operations.
  • Here’s what it’s like to work at Bridgewater, where workers are considered “intellectual Navy SEALs” and nearly one-third of new employees quit after a year.
  • Visit BusinessInsider.com for more stories.

Many employees fear criticising their peers and managers to their face – but at Bridgewater Associates, the world’s largest hedge fund, you could get fired if you don’t.

Bridgewater, run by the billionaire Ray Dalio, has a well-documented culture of “radical transparency,” where employees routinely judge one another’s performance. The corporate culture isn’t for the faint of heart – Dalio says about 30% of new employees leave the firm within 18 months.

Dalio even says the hedge fund, in Westport, Connecticut, has a reputation for being the “intellectual Navy SEALs” for its approach to pushing employees.

While Dalio says he avoids lengthy interviews and bringing cameras into his company, the CBS’s “60 Minutes” journalist Bill Whitaker recently got an exclusive view of Bridgewater’s day-to-day operations.

Here’s an inside look at what it’s like to work Bridgewater:


The billionaire Ray Dalio runs Bridgewater Associates, the top-performing hedge fund of all time based on returns since its inception.

Hollis Johnson

Source: MarketWatch


Dalio said his organisation was nicknamed the “intellectual Navy SEALS” and that 30% of new hires leave within 18 months.

CBS

Source: CBS


Dalio has avoided public interviews inside Bridgewater, but CBS’s “60 Minutes” got an exclusive look into what it’s like to work there.

CBS

Source: CBS


The hedge fund is in the woods of Westport, Connecticut, between two fishing rivers.

CBS

Source: CBS


Employees don’t follow daily market trends but study policy and history to find patterns that could help predict winning investments.

CBS

Some employees on Glassdoor have said they worked 10-hour days and didn’t have any work-life balance.

Source: CBS


One of Dalio’s principles for running his company is “radical transparency.” Employees cannot talk behind others’ backs — and doing so three times results in their firing, Dalio said.

CBS

“Criticism is welcomed and encouraged at Bridgewater, but there is never a good reason to bad-mouth people behind their backs,”Dalio wrote on Twitter in November. “It is counterproductive and shows a serious lack of integrity and it subverts both the person being bad-mouthed and the environment as a whole.”

Source: CBS


Instead, employees constantly judge and grade others during meetings. They receive feedback in real time about things like the quality of their analysis or whether their presentation of their findings was clear.

CBS

Employees use proprietary iPad apps for rating performance, and average scores are listed on an employee’s “baseball card,”Business Insider’s Richard Feloni reported in 2016.

Source: CBS


Meetings are also “recorded and scrutinised,” Dalio said. Employees told The New York Times in 2016 that new staff members once watched a video of Dalio and his team challenging a manager to the point of tears.

CBS

Whitaker said that there was a “big-brother vibe” at the company, and described it as “creepy.”

Source: CBS, New York Times


Dalio also isn’t afraid to fire an underperforming employee. He bluntly refers to this principle as “shoot people you love.”

CBS

Three people told The Times in 2017 that Dalio fired an employee in a companywide email for not completing a homework assignment. Dalio later suggested that the episode was a joke, and the employee was not fired, according to The Times.

Source: CBS


“At the end of the day, people have got to have two things,” Dalio said. “They have to have great character, and they have to have great capability in order to make a great organisation. And in order to do that, there are times that you’re going to have to let somebody you love go.”

Source: CBS


Dalio also believes in paying for the person, not the job. Titles do not have specified salaries, and he said he did not keep employees within the confines of a job description.

CBS

Investment associates make about $US100,000 in base pay, and analysts earn about $US81,000, according to Glassdoor.

Source: CBS


Whitaker said that he didn’t know that you need a very thick skin to work at Bridgewater but that “you can’t have a thin skin, I think, to go through something like that.”

CBS

Source: CBS


But Whitaker said that while he had expected employees to be afraid and on edge because of the surveillance, he found that most valued the criticism and saw it as a way to improve at their careers.

CBS

Source: CBS

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