The hottest commodities at hedge fund firms today are the people. The industry has grown to nearly $3 trillion in assets, up from $1 trillion a decade ago, and truly exceptional individuals are at a premium, as evidenced by Institutional Investor’s annual Hedge Fund Rising Stars ranking. To see where hedge funds are sourcing their talent, we took a look back over the educational records of our Rising Stars. The most popular avenue into hedge funds is the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School. Of the 180 Hedge Fund Rising Stars named between 2011 and 2016, ten had undergraduate degrees from the prestigious business school and another ten had received a Wharton MBA. Other Ivy League schools also are popular among hedge funds, as are Stanford and the University of California.
Yet Institutional Investor’s list consistently includes stars with less typical backgrounds, like Katina Stefanova, who came to the U.S. from Bulgaria in 1994 to earn a BA in international relations from Brigham Young University. She also has an MBA from Harvard. Now Stefanova, who worked for almost ten years at Bridgewater Associates, is launching her own firm, intent on disrupting the asset management industry. (Read Stefanova's recent feature, “Asset Managers, Prepare to Have Your Business Disrupted.”) •