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Bridgewater Associates Reviews

Updated July 17, 2017
262 reviews

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3.1
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Bridgewater Associates Founder, CEO and President Ray Dalio
Ray Dalio
158 Ratings

262 Employee Reviews

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Pros
  • A good percentage of smart people in the investment departments (in 42 reviews)

  • Opportunity to learn a lot about both investing and general business/life management skills (in 13 reviews)

Cons
  • Work life balance can be a challenge (in 21 reviews)

  • The long non-compete and the insular culture exacerbate this (in 13 reviews)

More Pros and Cons

  1. Featured Review

    Helpful (7)

    "Incredible first-job experience!"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Employee - Management Associate in Westport, CT
    Former Employee - Management Associate in Westport, CT
    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    Approves of CEO

    I worked at Bridgewater Associates (More than 5 years)

    Pros

    Overall, I feel very grateful that Bridgewater was my first job out of college. I had unparalleled exposure to senior management, was able to take on as much responsibility as I could handle, and I learned more about management and running a company than I realized until I went and founded my own company. At the time, I wasn't always sure how relevant all The Principles and The Culture was to quality management. Now, that I am out of my own I am much better able to navigate ambiguity and complicated decisions because I have a universal framework I can turn to to help me sort things out. The practical application is even clearer to me now, then it was then. Business insider has a great article talking to the CIO Bob Prince that's worth reading if you want to better understand the relationship between the culture and business outcomes. Beyond a ton of learning, the Bridgewater community is what I cherish most about my 5-years there. The culture of openness and honesty lends itself to extremely deep and meaningful relationships. When I left, it was the people that I was the most sad to leave but it's the people that I have stayed in touch with and make me still feel connected to Bridgewater. And I don't just mean who you would traditionally call my peers, I still keep in touch with my first managers who are almost twice my age. It is these unexpected friendships, and the perspectives they bring to my life, that I really treasure.

    Cons

    Bridgewater is an extremely intense environment and is not for the faint of heart. It can be exhausting, at a day-to-day level, to be part of a company that focuses so much on the process of how to achieve a goal and how to improve. If you don't step back to see the larger picture, it can feel like you are never good enough even though that's not the case - just because you can improve doesn't mean that you aren't doing great. The focus on constant improvement can be draining vs just being satisfied with how things are.

    Advice to Management

    At Bridgewater, I was part of the inaugural Management Associate (MA) class and spent my five years there as an MA working in multiple different departments across the company. One of the main reasons I left Bridgewater was that I felt disconnected from the bread and butter of the business - i.e. if I did well, my manager was happy and if I did poorly my manager was upset - but how I did didn't really affect Bridgewater and it's bottom line. I wanted my actions to be more connected to business outcomes. Since I was so early in my career, this was by and large is reasonable but I think there were ways Bridgewater could make Management Associate roles seems more integrated. For non-investment professionals, I think there could be more specific industry training around the basic fundamentals of how to think about markets in order to help bridge gaps in understanding and ensure people understand the business they are working to help run better.


  2. "Great Place to Work...but not for everyone"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Approves of CEO

    I worked at Bridgewater Associates full-time

    Pros

    Smart people, high standards, honest feedback

    Cons

    Some people are very binary when it comes to the principles. I believe the principles are more for interruption than a straight Black and White structure.

  3. Helpful (1)

    "Perspective and Purpose"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Technologist in Wilton, CT
    Current Employee - Technologist in Wilton, CT
    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    Approves of CEO

    I have been working at Bridgewater Associates full-time (More than 5 years)

    Pros

    When I reflect back on who I was prior to coming to the firm 6 years ago, I was lost. I had no idea who I was, what my values were, why I cared about the things I cared about, why I got upset about the things I got upset about and what my purpose was in life, as a husband and as a father. Bridgewater taught me the art and power of deep and meaningful reflection. It has taught me and enabled me to recognize how wrong and overconfident I am and that no matter what I think it’s most critical to have top of mind the fact that I might be missing something and that it’s probably a good idea to worry about that and engage others on that to help me. It’s pretty genius and simple but yet most of the world (especially traditional hierarchical corporate America) does not think or operate this way. In short, here is a sentence from one of our principles “it pays to stress test your thinking, even when you're pretty sure you're right.”
    At Bridgewater, we are all pushed to be excellent at everything we do. This is a reason that people don’t end up making it here and also a reason why people (like me) value being here even if we don’t have to. In order for me to achieve my own goals and find meaning and purpose in my life, Bridgewater is the place that will get me there fast. By way of others holding me highly accountable to a virtually unachievable standard every minute of every day, this is what enables me to grow.
    There is no such thing as a pure, 100% idea meritocracy as people are people and imperfect by definition. However, our ideal and value of being an idea meritocracy is true and not lip service and when debates come up, the idea meritocracy approach always wins. The people that speak up with the problems are the heroes. The people that can then practically solve those problems are the ones being promoted to solve more difficult problems. I’ve sent sharp feedback emails directly to Ray, other CEOs and senior managers and instead of getting fired I’ve gotten quality and thoughtful engagement.
    The hierarchy here is upside-down vs. most companies. As a leader gets higher in the organization they become more open minded. They recognize that the problems they are dealing with do not have easy solutions, that there will typically be a sharp divide among what people think is the right approach and there are big 2nd and 3rd order consequences no matter which path is chosen. Instead of having closed door meetings or just making a rash decision in their corner office and expecting everyone else to fall in line, they seek out the advice and opinions of others, even those at the very bottom of the organization. Sometimes these are the people that know the problems and consequences the best. This is why they listen to you and care about your opinions. If you are wrong, then it reinforces them being right. If you are right then they now have more work to do. Speaking up is always a win-win and is an easy thing to understand intellectually but actually doing it is the big hurdle. Most people come to Bridgewater with this being a weak muscle. They key, though, is each person’s values. If you value harmony, the path of least resistance and when you come to that fork in the road you know that speaking up is the best approach but you choose not to – you are not going to enjoy being here and won’t be successful (an attribute that we call tolerating problems – if you see the problem but don’t care enough to prioritize fixing it or ensuring someone else fixes it). If you recognize that speaking up is the better approach, you give it a try a few times and see how powerful it is. This muscle gets stronger and stronger until it’s just part of the way you think and navigate problem solving. You’ll see the successful paths you are paving and you won’t want to leave because you’ll see how fast you are growing and that most of the world doesn’t operate this way.
    The last big pro is our justice system. At any time, if you have a disagreement that you can’t resolve with the other person you escalate up a level for a more wise judge to understand the situation and provide their opinion. If you still disagree, you keep escalating all the way up to the management committee. These are done out in the open and often times others agree with you. These are the important cases to go through slowly because a lot is learned not only about the actual business problem needing to be solved but about the people involved, what they are like and how they deal with and work through such tough situations. This process includes the cases where you feel your grade does not reflect your performance or when you think you should stay in a role vs. be let go or move to a different role. One of the key questions I have for people that highlight key problems in their online feedback is whether they raised the issue or not and if they did, did they keep fighting up the chain or give up?

    Regarding benefits, Bridgewater pays 100% of the premiums for a platinum medical plan. This is huge for my family.

    Cons

    Thriving at Bridgewater is highly dependent on the role you are in and the people you are working with. When you are in the right role, it’s obvious. When you are in the wrong role, it’s obvious but it may not be to you. Think of the symphony analogy. When you are in the right role, you are helping an orchestra play beautiful music, everyone is in harmony. When you are in the wrong role you are the person out of tune and off beat. This is painful because you want to succeed and are trying hard but can’t. It’s even harder because you see that you are letting your team down and causing others pain to do more work and cover for you. Bridgewater is not a place where we are ok with the incompetent person on the team, we don’t put them in the corner and design the function and operation around them. We need the right people in the right roles focused on the right goals to succeed and this is hard reality to face in a corporate setting when we are all people with egos and our nature is to want to look good and be right all the time. Sometimes the right answer is that you aren’t a fit for that job but people have a very hard time thinking at the higher level and recognizing that. It’s ok (and expected) to fight through whether that is true or not but this is a very tough thing to do when you are just trying to work harder and harder and not smarter and your poor thinking and judgment and ego is clouding your focus. All that being said, Bridgewater is not a one strike and you are out place. You get many, many chances for a “try-again” or a “do-over.” In most cases, too many. You are free to step back into the batter’s box and ask for that pitch you can’t hit again. At some point, though, you need to recognize that watching game film or getting help from a coach is the better way. Maybe you can’t hit that Nolan Ryan fastball after all.
    In order to grow, you need to fail, you need to work through very uncomfortable situations and go through some level of adversity. These things are tough on us and can be tough on our family as we struggle through this. Each person is different but on the flip side I see an incredible level of maturity in my children because of all this – because I’ve grown immensely and am able to illuminate proper values, thinking, purpose and perspective and help them struggle well, too. The difference between being in pain and being ok is as simple as changing your perspective and am deeply appreciative for what Bridgewater had given to me.

    Advice to Management

    Keep investing in and hiring quality open-minded leaders and visionaries. Invest more in hiring at the junior talent level and career development. Open up a west coast office and keep relaxing remote work options.


  4. "I think it could be great..."

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    Approves of CEO

    I have been working at Bridgewater Associates full-time

    Pros

    Great friendships and working relationships
    Free lunch and snacks
    Really good healthcare
    Good PTO plan

    Cons

    Compensation. Getting a raise here the last few years has been rare/impossible. People are generally below market.

    Advice to Management

    Stick to trying to be the best Hedge fund in the world, and get rid of useless jobs (Principle Captain)


  5. Helpful (2)

    "mixed bag"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Software Developer in Westport, CT
    Current Employee - Software Developer in Westport, CT
    Doesn't Recommend
    Neutral Outlook
    Approves of CEO

    I have been working at Bridgewater Associates full-time (Less than a year)

    Pros

    good learning experience if you are up for it
    lots of smart people

    Cons

    culture tainted by politics
    inefficient and slow as hell
    you are probably overqualified for the role

    Advice to Management

    I think BW didn't scale well in terms of management.


  6. Helpful (2)

    "Chief of Staff (Leverage)"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Employee - Chief of Staff (Leverage) in Wilton, CT
    Former Employee - Chief of Staff (Leverage) in Wilton, CT
    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    No opinion of CEO

    I worked at Bridgewater Associates full-time (More than a year)

    Pros

    Bridgewater is an incubator for personal and professional growth. It's one of the toughest places to work in the world, but it will completely transform your talents, insights, and effectiveness. I would recommend anyone who has the opportunity to work here do so - even if it's just for six months. It's totally worth it.

    Cons

    Its strength is also its weakness: the place is super tough to work for. You'll have days where you question why you go through the rigor of working for the company. It's not for the faint of heart.


  7. Helpful (18)

    "Horrible place for Technologists"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee in Norwalk, CT
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee in Norwalk, CT
    Doesn't Recommend
    Negative Outlook
    Disapproves of CEO

    I worked at Bridgewater Associates full-time (Less than a year)

    Pros

    Not a typical "corporate" environment, get to speak more freely in some regards - i.e. you disagree with your boss. No need to be cloyingly polite all the time.

    Cons

    Too many to count, my top items:
    1) Consistently penny smart, pound foolish. For example trying to lowball new hires saying "you get what you deserve over time" just results in people not being happy and leaving since raises are slow to non-existent. Trying to squeeze into a seeming arbitrary budget but canceling projects to engineer desperately needed replacement systems.
    2) Way too much churn around management (no CTO lasts over a year) and direction - nobody wants to be accountable for a decision. Impossible to know what direction to invest in and which to migrate away from since the plan changes every quarter.
    3) Following the above - most systems and processes are massively out of date. There are still Windows 2003 servers serving critical roles and most pieces of the infrastructure are multiple revisions out of date.
    4) Cloak and Dagger non-sense. "Security" is paramount and there are literally hundreds of people in Security who get to say no to what technologists want to do but they are not responsible for keeping most of the Security tools running. Most technologists aren't officially allowed to know what Security software is loaded onto all desktops and servers, but almost trivial troubleshooting uncovers one of the dozen tools in slowing down performance or breaking something. Nobody is allowed to talk about how their "proprietary" system works since it's a secret - yet it turns out so much is just duct taped together with Excel, VB scripts, and other terrible non-enterprise solutions since nobody was willing to work with and share with another part of the firm and implement things properly. This despite the entire hypocritical focus on What Good Looks Like.
    5) 0 development in anything that matters. No training on technology, it's all management principles training - or forced indoctrination into a "way of being" that just does not work with technology.
    6) The constant threat of outsourcing. The Bridgewater method just doesn't work for technology - once you have a system it needs grunt work to maintain (as opposed to investing where often the smartest thing to do in don't do anything while you weigh options) - there is a constant desire to outsource the technology teams creating FUD about people's jobs and mental anguish.

    Advice to Management

    You're seeing the impact of treating your technologists so poorly in the fact you can't hire. The best DBA in the word ends all his conferences with a slide about how he hated working at Bridgewater and since leaving I now highly discourage anyone looking for a career in enterprise IT from even thinking about Bridgewater.

  8. Helpful (2)

    "Great company to work for but not for everyone."

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Recommends
    Neutral Outlook
    Approves of CEO

    I worked at Bridgewater Associates full-time (More than 5 years)

    Pros

    This was my first full-time job out of college, so I know I don't have much of a basis of comparison, but I worked there for about 5 years. I learned A LOT over my time there and is one of the reasons I'm very happy I worked there. I learned a lot about myself (strengths, weaknesses, etc.). I feel like I learned much more about business, business communications, etc. than I did as a business major in college. I was a big fan of the tight knit culture. I consider myself a shy person, but I became tight with my teammates quickly in my first job there and the third team I worked on. They have great events throughout the year for employees and they have great benefits for employees (stocked kitchens, lunch, gym, bus for NYC employees, etc.).

    Cons

    All that being said, it's definitely not the easiest place to work and not for everyone. In my five years, I saw lots of people come and go, some only after a few months working there, so there can be a good amount of turnover. Within my first year on my first team, pretty much everyone else on my team when I started (about 10 people) had cycled out and I was the most tenured person on the team and due to team manager shakeup, experienced about 4-5 different managers in that first year. Two of the teams that I worked on were pretty hectic in terms of having bad processes making things really inefficient and creating more work than needed. As some one living in NYC, the daily commute sucks as well. It's much better than it could be given there's a bus that picks up employees in the morning and drops them off in the evening, but it's about 1-1.5 hours each way and it sucks being stuck to a bus/train schedule.


  9. Helpful (1)

    "SEALS for the mind"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    Approves of CEO

    I worked at Bridgewater Associates full-time

    Pros

    Smartest people I've ever worked with (coming from HBS/ McK), and some of the most thoughtful, considerate, and "sparkly" as well.

    Cons

    At some point you realize you really aren't as smart as you (and everyone you know) thought you were, and you become aware of the reality about yourself. There is no recovery.

    Advice to Management

    "Believability" seems to have no clear grounding in absolute truth, only consensus truth.


  10. Helpful (3)

    "Analyst"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee in New York, NY
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee in New York, NY
    Doesn't Recommend
    Approves of CEO

    I worked at Bridgewater Associates full-time

    Pros

    Challenging work environment that requires you to frequently operate outside of your comfort zone and allows you to reflect on personal strengths and weaknesses in a manner unlike any other organization. BW is full of brilliant individuals that have a wide array of backgrounds.

    Cons

    Several - stressful work environment, inordinate amount of time spent on mundane tasks such as monthly reflection papers, narrow minded upper management, and a lot of "covering your a%#"

    Advice to Management

    Re-evaluate the principles and make less complex and detailed.


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