Bridgewater Associates
3.0 of 5 98 reviews
www.bwater.com Westport, CT 1000 to 5000 Employees

Bridgewater Associates Reviews

Updated Apr 11, 2014
All Employees Current Employees Only

3.0 98 reviews

                             

57% Approve of the CEO

Bridgewater Associates Founder, CEO and President Ray Dalio

Ray Dalio

(67 ratings)

48% of employees recommend this company to a friend
98 Employee Reviews
Relevance Date Rating
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Review Highlights

Pros:
  • "Pay was good, free food in the cafe was nice"
    in 11 reviews
  • "Intelligent and smart people who will question and ensure that you question your logic"
    in 8 reviews
Cons:
  • "It's hard to have great work/life balance in that work will creep into every aspect of your life"
    in 6 reviews
  • "With open feedback, you have to have a thick skin sometimes"
    in 5 reviews
  • Show more review highlights

Reviews

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3 people found this helpful  

Open & honest culture. Company is changing into a large "institution".

Anonymous Employee (Former Employee)

I worked at Bridgewater Associates full-time

ProsOpen and transparent. People really believe in the Principles and operate by them. You'll learn a lot about yourself -- strengths and weaknesses -- at a richer/deeper level than at other places. Good benefits/perks.

ConsEmphasis on learning from mistakes results in focus on mistakes & weaknesses. Can be a hit on self-confidence. Not everyone is bought into culture resulting in politicking using the principles.

Advice to Senior ManagementFigure out if you really want to be an institutional company and change accordingly. Attempting to cling to entrepreneurial feel just causes churn & confusion.

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Great place to work if you want to develop personally and professionally, and are prepared to put you ego to one side.

Manager (Former Employee)
Westport, CT

I worked at Bridgewater Associates full-time for more than 3 years

ProsAs open and transparent as I think any company could be - a clear set of values and principles on which the company is run which provides a framework for anyone to contribute if they want to. You get to work with some super-smart people and generally the quality of conversation is an order of magnitude better than other places I have worked at.

ConsBridgewater is facing some growing pains as it moves from being a small company run by Ray Dalio to something more institutionalized. Some of the principles that have worked well at a small level don't necessarily scale well, which results (for example) in managers through the ranks translating principles in a sometimes back handed way.

Bridgewater lacks a bit of a sense of humor - there is a fair amount of attention in the company on meaningful relationships, but the reality is everyone is pretty intensely focused on their business responsibility. I made fewer good friends at BW than other places I worked.

Because Bridgewater can hire great people given its brand, pay is ok but not great in most roles and unless you are in the top tier of the company long term progression is unlikely. But for three to five years, a great experience for most people who get past the first eighteen months,

Yes, I would recommend this company to a friend

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For the right person...

Anonymous Employee (Former Employee)

I worked at Bridgewater Associates

ProsIntense and focused mentorship, no holds barred approach to problem solving and exacting rigor of logic in all conversations.
If in the right department and management change, you can always ask the question - but don't expect the pat on the back for being the smartest or the most experienced. Thoughtful, considered questions and a particular brand of humility and hubris are always welcome.

ConsThe standards never slacken and there is no where to hide - expect to get home at the end of the day, every day, feeling like you've been put through a wringer in some regards.
Additionally, the philosophical-culture enthusiast can get caught in a trap where talking seems more important than doing - but ultimately you are held accountable to what you do (or don't) deliver, so it requires a lot of discipline to be in this culture.

Yes, I would recommend this company to a friend – I'm optimistic about the outlook for this company

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Principles are corrupted by self-serving "apparatchick" managers

Management Associate (Former Employee)
Wilton, CT

I worked at Bridgewater Associates full-time for more than 3 years

Prosgym
food
transportation shuttle
pay

You have a desk and a phone, and a computer( with outdated tech). You get an understanding of how other people percieve you. And you can then do things to fix, how people percieve you. However how people percieve you does not = your actual strenghts and weakensses. It can be very useful to perfect how other people percieve you and make it work in your favor, - so that you can use it to succeed at other places.

ConsBW worked well as a startup. I love debate, goal oriented and ruthless improvement and beating the competition. I enjoy making money. However, I do believe that these ends have to be pursued through honest and fair means. I realize that these convictions are quite outdated these days. During the days of Ray, BW used to be fair and honest. Ruthless, but fair and honest. Now that Ray is gone, it has lost its edge and has stagnated to become an institutionalized cesspool of cleptocrats. People mindlessly follow and execute “culture” processes, but the conviction and understanding behind the principles is no longer there. United States had good intentions and ideology too, when it first started, too. But the influence of the founders has faded, and the ideas and principles they have set forth, have been subverted, corrupted and abused by power-hungry sociopaths . The very same principles that Ray set forth to defeat dishonesty, ego and stupidity have been co-opted by self-serving managers to stifle debate and dissent. Instead of exploring weaknesses to help coach others and to drive for self-improvement, managers use a focus on weaknesses to take down people they perceive as threats and to destroy the confidence and self-worth of juniors to solidify their control over them and to boost their own egoes. Managers use debate not to find truth, but to deflect attention and blame from themselves and onto others. Instead of being managers, they have become politicians in the middle of re-election ( where re-election is every single day) , twisting words and slinging mud, aiming to take out the opponent. With electioneering happening every day, it is no wonder no work ever gets done. Imagine all the idiosyncrasy, bloat, ego, politicking, conflict of interest and bickering in the US House of Representatives. Now imagine all of that transposed onto a Hedge Fund. – well that is BW for you. If you want to learn how to be a politician debater, expert at deflecting blame to others,- then BW is right for you, and it pays better than working for the government. However, if you actually want to learn anything of substance, learn some transferable skills and get something done, then forget BW. BW is not a quick and agile firm, it is an inflexible, slow to act, soul crushing bureaucracy. True, their bureaucracy is built differently and crushes the soul differently ( other reviews have explained that in depth) than the bureaucracy at other big IB banks/institutions. However,- the end result is the same: progress and change is stifled to the max and the soul is crushed. The heavy weight of BW processes and culture creates its own kind of red tape, which is difficult to cut through to get anything done in a reasonable amount of time. Ray set out to restructure human nature in his image for his company, - but he couldn’t keep out the parasites, and the parasites have taken over the host, subverting the culture to their own purposes and sucking it dry.

Advice to Senior Managementget rid og 75% of the dead weight and parasitic managers
start with fresh people who have an understanding and commitment to the principles in their true form

No, I would not recommend this company to a friend – I'm not optimistic about the outlook for this company

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The culture looks great on paper, however in practice.....

Recruiting Coordinator (Former Employee)
Westport, CT

I worked at Bridgewater Associates full-time for less than a year

ProsI worked at Bridgewater for a little under a year. They are always hiring for HR because they divide it into Recruiting and HR. And they always are in need for recruiters because their turnover is very high. The culture on the HR side is not as intense as the culture is on the recruiting side since the recruiting department is more involved with the "money" and therefore more exposed to the culture. But crazy stuff aside Bridgewater can be a good place if you end up with a good team!

ConsFor the most part I think their culture is interesting/borderline unproductive. It can be very intense at times because they tend to nit pick at what you do wrong even if it's something small. And focus on those issues rather than the work you are supposed to be doing. Which can be very stressful.

Advice to Senior ManagementThe CULTure is a little on the intense side. Learn that not everyone has the same way of getting to the "truth".

No, I would not recommend this company to a friend

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I've been at Bridgewater now for 5+ years and cant imagine working somewhere else

Anonymous Employee (Current Employee)
Westport, CT

I have been working at Bridgewater Associates full-time for more than 5 years

ProsThe Community - the people are what make a place and the people and relationships you build working here are really one of a kind and long lasting. You are surrounded by really smart people with all different and interesting life experiences, who work hard, care a lot about this place and will have genuine conversations with you about what they think and push to help you get better. There is no talking behind peoples backs or shady decision making happening behind closed doors - its an open environment where we work through problems and feedback together and in that, creates very trusting and honest relationships. If you want to be at a place where you can just be yourself and surround yourself with other people doing the same thing, this is a great community to be a part of.

The Personal Growth– I have learned so much about myself while working here, which has helped me evolve both professionally and personally. It’s just such a cool experience to think about who I was when I joined, how much I have grown in these past 5+ years (i.e. I’m a much better problem solver, more open minded) and to imagine what my journey will be like as I continue to evolve in the future. The rate of improvement and learning here is like nowhere else I have experienced and it’s just such a unique opportunity to be at a company that fosters so much personal evolution and learning.

Ability to Make Impact – this place and your job really are what you make it. You have a set of goals and responsibilities but how you achieve those things can really be up to you. This place wants independent thinkers, people who strive to make things better, will put themselves out there with ideas and have the drive to take on projects or improve how we are doing things. In my experience here, I really have seen this to be true. We are a growing firm with lots of change happening so it’s really an exciting time to be a part of this place and the opportunity to make an impact really is huge.

ConsWork/life balance can be tough – I think because the people that work here are so passionate about what they do and this place, it can be difficult at times to maintain that work/life balance and go home when you know there is so much to be done. Over the years, I think I’ve for the most part been able to manage it OK (because I know there will always be tons to get done, but am comfortable prioritizing the things that have to be done and the stuff that can wait until tomorrow), but I’ve seen this as something many colleagues have struggled with.

Yes, I would recommend this company to a friend – I'm optimistic about the outlook for this company

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Run away as fast as you can.

Anonymous Employee (Former Employee)
Westport, CT

I worked at Bridgewater Associates full-time for more than 3 years

ProsIntelligent colleagues, good pay. Beautiful location.

ConsStrange, self-deluded upper management, and others try to emulate. Narcissism runs rampant, which is counter to what "The Principles" express. Weird meetings where people tell the "truth" about each other. Mostly an opportunity for people to tell you what's wrong with you in an abusive way. It's like group therapy with a very sick therapist in charge. Cameras follow you everywhere, meetings and conversations are recorded. Might as well live in Soviet Russia. Very, very weird place. I'd say close to a cult. This is a place where people come to score a lot of money and then leave as quickly as they can.

Advice to Senior ManagementLearn real self-reflection, not the kind that boosts you at the expense of others. Try to understand that when you say that people "fail out of Bridgewater," you're simply revealing your own biases and lack of understanding.

No, I would not recommend this company to a friend – I'm not optimistic about the outlook for this company

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Cloudy with a side of meatballs

Client Service Coordinator (Current Employee)
Westport, CT

I have been working at Bridgewater Associates full-time for more than 3 years

ProsThe pros at Bridgewater associates are pay, free lunch and happy hours. The people are friendly and are well aware on how to play the cultural management chess game.

ConsThe culture is easy to understand, yet management has a difficult time making it work. Truth and transparency are the key points and as easy as that sounds management become what is known as ninja's; using principled languange to spiral an issue down to the non-management employees, rather than owning the issue and understanding how their management skills are lacking the knowledge of their people and/or processes.

Advice to Senior ManagementFocus on developing yourselfs, but be sure to pay it forward to the levels below.

No, I would not recommend this company to a friend

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I can be myself

Anonymous Employee (Current Employee)

I have been working at Bridgewater Associates full-time

ProsI found my transition into Bridgewater surprisingly easy. Everyone talks about how unique and harsh the culture is, but the way of being at BW felt natural to me from the start...
I have been there for 2+ years and I have found it to be a very liberating place to work. Everyday I just walk in and be myself. I am not stressed about looking good (both figuratively and literally since you can wear what you want) or worried about office politics or what's going on behind closed doors. I just focus on doing my very best at my responsibilities and being open to the learning that comes along the way. I always know where I stand on my performance because I get the feedback constantly. I find by and large my colleagues to be of high integrity and easy to get along with. And unlike other places, I know what management is talking about behind those closed doors bc they send out the tapes of it to everyone! Its awesome to not have to fear about making mistakes or saying "I don't know" - just frees up your mindshare. I can focus on how I can contribute and make impact without distractions that can come into play in more "typical" work environments.

Also a big plus for me and one of the reasons why I came to BW is the high standards that it maintains. It doesn't mean that everything is perfect - far from it ... but the place despises mediocrity and laziness. It really is a place that wants to be excellent and acknowledges where it is isn't. BW doesn't tolerate slackers or people who are just "along for the ride". Who really wants to work with those type of people?

ConsThere is not a lot flexibility re: telecommuting or flexible work arrangements which as a working mom would be a welcomed benefit. That being said I find that my managers and colleagues respect how I manage my time and there is no "facetime". If you are explicit about your reality and limitations, people will be reasonable.

Yes, I would recommend this company to a friend – I'm optimistic about the outlook for this company

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A great place to start a career in investments

Investment Associate (Current Employee)
Westport, CT

I have been working at Bridgewater Associates full-time for more than 3 years

ProsBridgewater hired me right out undergrad (where I was a Liberal Arts major) as an Investment Associate. I've been here for 3.5yrs. I'm really glad I came for the following reasons:
-I've found the culture really fulfilling - work with brilliant people who push me hard to get better, but care a lot about me. As a result, I think I've grown a lot here.
-The Investment Associate class - a nine month crash course on how to be an investor - was outstanding. Better (and harder) than any class I took at school.
-Even past the first year, strong focus on training and developing. "Trading game" is a good example of a training tool - Bridgewater will take the other side of any global macro trade you want to make (big or small), and your profit or losses comes out of your bonus - a great way to get your hands dirty in markets and testing your ideas.
-Work is hard, thought provoking, and interesting. I seem to be more challenged and stimulated by my work than my friendsw who pursued other careers (esp. banking and consulting).
-Great career opportunities. High ability to try out different roles to get different experiences.
-I work with really fun, cool people. Really like my co-workers and bosses.
-Lots of resources and willingness to experiment with good, innovative ideas. A place where you can be very entrepreneurial if you are able to do it.
-The set of clients and folks that pay attention to our research is impressive - you have the opportunity to influence the understanding of people who matter.
-People and policies are flexible and reasonable. Easy to go to the gym or a run the middle of the day.
-Beautiful office, in the middle of basically a forest and wetland.
-Great pay and benefits, particularly if you stick around for a few years.

Cons-Biggest for me is location in Westport CT rather than NYC.
-Relatedly, Bridgewater's telecommuting options suck. In certain departments and role, you can't work from home without a (rare) exception for a particular project.
-Hours aren't great, though not banking bad. I average working about 9-9 M-Th, 9-5 Friday, and 2 hrs on weekends. (totaly of 55-60 hrs). Lots of flexibility though (Usually I can leave early no problem if I want to)
-For those who may want to switch careers within macro hedge funds, you got to wait a couple years (go to business school) due to non-compete agreement.
-I love the culture -but its not for anyone. With open feedback, you have to have a thick skin sometimes.
-Company facing growing pains related to a lot of new hiring over the last 4yrs, including inexperienced people bumping into eachother.

Advice to Senior ManagementAllowing greater telecommuting is an easy way to make employees a lot happier. Be more transparent about pay and benefits so people understand what they are getting into.

Yes, I would recommend this company to a friend – I'm optimistic about the outlook for this company

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