An article in Institutional Investor highlights an online competition—called the Stocks Debate Challenge–that is being used by hedge funds to find new talent “outside the well-trodden channels of elite schools and rival financial firms.”

Through the new online platform, “anybody—regardless of credentials—is allowed to pitch investment ideas in a short video. The creators of the best submissions go on to the next round: debating fellow candidates in front of a board of hedge fund managers and online viewers. The judges have no information about a person’s background when analyzing their performance.” The winners will then interview for jobs at hedge fund Apex Capital.

According to the article, the competition has completed its first cycle and hundreds of students have registered for the next round, which is expected to occur in the coming months. Justin Zhen, co-founder of Thinknum, an alternative data platform that took part in developing the competition, is quoted: “We’re changing the dynamic so managers can find people with the best ideas, not necessarily the shiniest backgrounds.”

The article explains that hedge funds and are looking for candidates from a variety of backgrounds “to foster diversity of thought.”  It adds that academic research has shown that people from varied backgrounds “can offer fresh ideas and break the cycle of group think.”

According to Zhen, “There’s a huge war for talent. If you’re a hedge fund you need any edge you can get to find people.”

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