With annualised returns of roughly 40% spanning three decades and a lifetime non-disclosure agreement for employees, it’s safe to say Renaissance Technologies is a bit of an enigma. Despite a bit of a slip in their long-term equity fund this year, the (short term) Medallion fund is still reportedly up 25% YTD. If I knew how they produce those returns I wouldn’t be stuck in a very hot and humid office on outskirts of London, however, we have been able to analyse who does i.e. RentTec employees.
According to regulatory filings, RenTec employs 310 people with approximately half in research positions. Their website mentioned that 90 of their employees have PhDs.
Using public data we broke down the employees by job division. The breakdown of employees is consistent with other quant trading firms, roughly 30% in Investments and Trading, 30% in Technology and the balance in non-investment support roles.
RenTec is infamous for hiring their researchers directly from University programmes. Our research did back this up with the odd exception of researchers joining after one – two years on Wall Street. The data does also suggest they recruit heavily from PhD programmes with all but two of the researchers having PhD’s (the two exceptions being Math geniuses).
Jim Simons is famed for his mathematical background so it’s unsurprising that the academic profiles were heavily weighted towards Applied Maths and Physics. This is a noticeably different approach to most other quant funds who tend to favour more practical data experience gained in Statistics or Computer Science. MIT and Stanford emerged as clear favourites, however, there was a fairly balanced distribution across the top tier universities.
Also, despite being incredibly secretive they do occasionally allow researchers to publish. A quick search on Google scholar produced 45 results albeit a few were merely referencing RenTec. You can find the list by following this link https://scholar.google.com/scholar?hl=en&as_sdt=0%2C5&q=%22%40rentec.com%22&btnG=
RenTec does not appear to be as judgemental regarding previous work experience for technologists with the vast majority having held prior work experience. Nor, do they appear as concerned about graduate studies for technologists with over half holding an undergrad degree. These two factors point to the more practical on the job experience required in technology.
There was a large distribution of Universities, however, Stony Brook was easily the most popular with its alumni making up 15% of the technology population. NYU was in second making up 12% of the population with Harvard and Cornell in joint third with 6% each.
Computer Science and Electrical Engineering were obviously the two most popular making up 60% of technology staffs academic background. Additionally, a number of mathematical sciences that would have required programming also make the list. Interestingly, RenTec includes a few Psychologists and Philosophers in their technology ranks which must help when you just cannot find the bug :)
Securing a role within research at RenTec is clearly difficult. If you have already begun your career in finance it’s unlikely you will be making your way to East Setauket any time soon. A role within technology is a bit more achievable but RenTec are best known for their modelling and research - you may actually find more interesting tech projects elsewhere.