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Big multi-strategy hedge funds want to be cuddly employers

If you work for hedge fund Millennium in New York City now, it's not just about the money. While the pay will undoubtedly be good (why else would managing directors at JPMorgan and elsewhere be leaving to work there before bonuses), Millennium is also offering something extra. - Wellness; it wants its people to achieve a state of mental and physical balance. 

The vehicle for this pursuit of nirvana is Millennium's new Wellness Center at its Park Avenue office. Opened recently, it offers everything from yoga and stretching classes, to cookery lessons, massage, mindfulness and meditation sessions. Millennium portfolio managers who aren't based in New York will still be able to benefit from an app offering relaxing music and sleep stories.

Welcome to the age of holistic wellbeing in pursuit of alpha. 

Banks are no strangers to wellness. Goldman Sachs has been touting wellness and mental health for at least a decade (1,000 Goldmanites attended a seminar on how to be happy in 2012), but hedge funds have historically been less observant of such things. As the big multi-strategy funds morph from being scrappy side-players into big global organizations with thousands of employees, this is changing. 

Millennium isn't alone in embracing the squidgy side of alpha generation. Citadel has onsite clinics for staff in New York and Chicago and is preparing to extend them to other offices. Like Millennium, Citadel offers mindfulness programs and has embraced platforms like Wayforward, a "clinically trained algorithm" that makes recommendations regarding mental health.  Balyasny is equally proactive, offering classes on breathing, meditation and sleep, while BAM employees at offices in New York, Connecticut, San Francisco, Chicago, Hong Kong, Singapore, and London have access to trainers and to fully equipped gyms. 

Nor is it simply a question of mental and physical health perks. At Citadel, people also receive free food from in-house chefs. Speaking to us last year for articles on their day lives, employees at Citadel and Citadel Securities cited the varied menu as a highlight of their days.

While banks trim free coffee and FAANG technology firms recoil from their historic generosity, it's starting to seem therefore that multi-strategy hedge funds might be ready to fill the niche left for caring sharing employers. Of course, you'll still need to help generate alpha and avoid losses to survive, but if you do, you will be well cared for. And not just financially.

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AUTHORSarah Butcher Global Editor

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