Data Scientists Making Millions Vie With Fund Managers Over Pay

  • Third Point hires Matt Ober from WorldQuant as data chief
  • Experienced data scientists can earn seven-figure salaries

Portfolio managers at hedge funds have another thing to worry about: the $2 million data scientist.

Matt Ober, who left WorldQuant for Third Point, will be paid more than $2 million by Dan Loeb’s hedge fund, according to a breach of contract claim filed by his former employer. Ober, 32, who starts next month as Third Point’s chief data scientist, said in a filing that he will be paid a base salary of $200,000, the same as WorldQuant gave him, plus bonuses, and disputed that $2 million in compensation is guaranteed.

Loeb is joining other boldface hedge fund names in developing big data and quantitative investing to boost returns. Scientists and coders who mine, clean and model information are in high demand after being relegated for years to back office status. Experienced data scientists can earn $500,000 to $700,000, and as much as three times that for those with extensive backgrounds, according to recruiter Alexey Loganchuk.

“It is too early to call data scientists the new masters of the universe but they are on their way there,” said Loganchuk, founder of Upgrade Capital, a New York recruiting firm that focuses on alternative data. “Because of how new the space is, the transition from entry level to management can happen quickly. There are several people out there making seven figures in their mid-twenties.”

Hedge fund managers and senior analysts are facing smaller paychecks. Those with seven years of experience expect a 14 percent decrease in total compensation to about $685,000 for 2016, according to a September survey by Odyssey Search Partners. Loganchuk said a data scientist’s salary still falls short of what a portfolio manager or partner at a top fund can make.

Winton Capital Management in London said in April it’s starting a data science center in San Francisco and plans to hire some 40 scientists. Citadel in Chicago picked its former chief risk officer for a new role of chief data officer in September.

Ober joined Igor Tulchinsky’s WorldQuant in 2011 as a data product analyst and was later promoted to co-head of data strategies at the Old Greenwich, Connecticut-based hedge fund, according to the filing. He sought out data from vendors for use in trading. Ober will help Third Point more quickly get up to speed with bid data, helping identify which datasets could be used for specific trades, according to the filing.

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Ober referred questions to Joshua Targoff, general counsel at Third Point, who didn’t immediately respond to a message seeking comment, nor did Claudia Gray, a spokeswoman for WorldQuant.

— With assistance by Katia Porzecanski

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