After two years at the helm of the eponymously named Insana Capital, former CNBC anchor Ron Insana has scuppered the ship – bailing out for calmer waters at SAC Capital. Also this week, it was revealed that a reporter and columnist for the Wall Street Journal was lured from the fifth estate by Plainfield Asset Management and Dane Hamilton of Reuters was hired by Carl Icahn to write his blog postings for him. This, after MarketWatch’s Herb Greenberg bailed to start his own research firm in July.
It’s almost as if financial journalists don’t get paid enough or something.
All of a sudden, hedge funds seem to want to hire people who have huge networks, are intelligent and have a great understanding of the hedge fund and financial service industry. But the trend, if it is one, began some time ago. This is just the latest chapter in an ongoing dance between hedge funds and media people.
About a year ago, I was having lunch with a business journalist friend who was being courted by a major hedge fund company to join them to help with marketing. At around that time, someone emailed me a job description for an opening at a hedge fund that specifically included “journalism” as a prerequisite.
Even today, you see more and more job listings popping up with the words “investigative” and “journalism” in them. Here’s one I picked off such a job board earlier today:
“…Bachelor degree with a stellar academic performance required, master degree could be a plus. Must have strong investigative skills, a background in journalism could be a plus…”
The question is: are asset managers suddenly realizing how to exploit the skills of (underpaid) financial journalists, or are the journalists trying to escape before they are taken to the firing line along with thousands of their colleagues in the media industry?
Who knows? But financial journalists and hedge fund managers may have a lot more in common than first meets the eye. As Tim Price, himself an (excellent) part-time financial columnist said way back in 2006:
“They live in a high-octane world. What they do is risky. They’re grotesquely overpaid, they have few scruples, and their influence on the markets is out of all proportion to their true size. They’re fast, extremely short-termist and utterly unregulated. Yes, they’re journalists writing about hedge funds.”