Investment office starts to woo Elis

The University’s famously secretive Investments Office opened its door last week, but just far enough for students to get one foot in the door.

The keepers of Yale’s endowment held their first-ever information session for seniors interested in filling an entry-level financial analyst position in the office’s 20-person staff. Recruiting started earlier this year than ever before, with new strategies meant to market the position to a broader applicant pool, Investments Office staff members said. Some students interested in finance said the push to recruit Yale students will be a boon to both applicants and the office alike.

More than 30 students joined David Swensen GRD ’80, Yale’s chief investments officer and a world-renowned guru of institutional investing, for the information session last Thursday evening. Explosive growth in the University endowment, which earned 22.9 percent in the 2006 fiscal year to end at a total of $18 billion, has fueled a desire to expand the office, which led to changes in the recruiting process.

“With the growth of the endowment, the staff needs to grow as well,” said Alex Hetherington ’06, an analyst in the Investments Office and this year’s recruitment coordinator.

Recruiting for the position has gone online, too. Hetherington said the office sent out e-mails to senior class members about the position, and he posted a flyer on facebook.com.

In an advertisement for the analyst position, the Investments Office described the University’s endowment as $22 billion, which would represent a 22.2 percent return over the previous year. Official numbers for the endowment’s value will be released in an annual report expected later this month.

The office typically hires one new analyst per year, though three came onboard in 2005, Hetherington said. The majority of full-time hires are Yale College graduates, he said, most of whom had an internship with the office during their time at Yale or who took the economics seminar “Investment Analysis” that Swensen and his deputy, Dean Takahashi ’80 SOM ’83, teach each fall.

Still, some new recruits have little finance or investing experience. Hetherington, a former computer science and economics major, said he had not done a summer internship in finance, choosing instead to work at Google in a programming position. Last year’s new addition, Matthew Mendelsohn ’07, graduated with a B.S. in physics and had not taken more than a handful of economics classes as an undergraduate.

While finance experience is a plus, Hetherington said, the goal is to find the smartest people who also fit in well with the small, tight-knit office, which counts an annual camping trip among its group activities. After resumes, transcripts and cover letters are all collected by Sept. 20, or Oct. 14 for the second round of applications, some candidates will be selected for interviews with members of the current staff. But Hetherington said the process is less formal than at large investment banks.

“There’s no HR department here,” he said. “I’m the HR department.”

Though some seniors said the timing of the information session and e-mail campaign seemed early in the year, it is nothing new in the world of finance recruiting. Philip Uhde ’08, for example, said he already has a job offer from a hedge fund where he interned this past summer.

Hetherington said the office normally has its hands full working on the annual endowment report each September, which is why it previously did not begin recruiting until later in the semester. The early start, in addition to producing a larger applicant pool, will hopefully help the office attract students who have already received offers from other institutions, such as investment banks and consulting firms, he said.

Though Udhe will not be applying for the Yale position, he praised the Investments Office for becoming more proactive in its recruiting.

“I think it’s great that they’re putting the office on more students’ radar,” Uhde said. “They’ll get an even better set of recruits.”

Jan Rettel ’08, who plans to apply for the analyst job, knew about the position before it was advertised heavily this year, but he too said that greater awareness is a step forward.

“A lot of people who are just starting finance careers don’t know about [the position],” Rettel said. “All they know about are the I-banks that come to campus.”

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