What Can Hedge Funds Learn from Quinnipiac Hockey?

Anthony Malakian, US Editor, WatersTechnology

Finding talent is difficult, whether for hockey or for running technology inside a major buy-side institution. Anthony says following Quinnipiac hockey's lead may not be as crazy as it sounds.

Kellen and Connor Jones are twin brothers who were born in Montrose, British Columbia, Canada. They're both amateur hockey players. Odds are, growing up they had never heard of Quinnipiac University, a school of 8,000 in Hamden, Connecticut. But that is exactly where the two have found glory on the ice.

Professional hockey isn't the most ubiquitous sport in the United States. It's even less so at the college level. But even the most ardent hockey fan had to be surprised when they saw that Quinnipiac, a team with no national prominence, had made it to the NCAA National Championship game, where they will play neighboring Yale University tomorrow. The Jones brothers have played a major role in this title run, as both rank in the top 5 on the team in scoring.

Quinnipiac is most known for its polling institute. Every election, rest assured Quinnipiac's name will make it into national headlines. In large part, that was by design: It was free marketing for the school.

As Jonathan Mahler of Bloomberg View notes, Quinnipiac becoming a seemingly overnight success on the ice was no accident, either: The school funneled money and talent into the program in order to make it a national name, or brand.

Finding that talent was key. When you are competing against entrenched schools like Minnesota, Michigan, Boston College, Boston University, North Dakota and Denver, then you need more than money-you need to be able to find talent and you need a differentiator.

So what school officials and coaches did was they went into the elite amateur British Columbia Hockey League to find bigger, more experienced players. As Mahler also points out, the average age of the team is 24. The BCHL is also where they found the Jones brothers, and six other members of their current squad. Furthermore, they invested in building a beautiful new arena to play in.

Finding IT Talent
You can argue that there's no better time to find IT talent than right now. Due to budget constraints, many a bank has cut its staffing over the last few years. Even in recent months, JPMorgan, Barclays, Goldman Sachs, HSBC and Raymond James have laid off workers for various reasons.

Surely, there are some gems in those masses. But it's also true that hedge funds aren't exactly flush with capital to blow on IT; they need that money to put back into investor returns. Thus, why the buy side has increasingly turned to outsourced/third-party solutions in recent years.

So this isn't to say that hedge funds need to go out and fully re-staff their IT departments. But right now is a good time to go hunting for talent in areas they haven't looked before; pick off a specialist here and there that will allow your firm to venture into new asset classes and geographies.

Not only did Quinnipiac have to invest in its scouting capabilities to breach the BCHL, it also had to put a $52 million investment into its new arena to entice talent. Well, while it's not the easiest of markets for buy-side firms, smart investment now in infrastructure and staffing can reap rewards down the road.

Are your Jones brothers out there?

Think that comparing college hockey to financial IT is insane? Want to talk about Quinnipiac's chances against Yale? Give me a call at 646-490-3973 or shoot me an email to [email protected]

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