Bridgewater Associates Reviews | Glassdoor

Bridgewater Associates Reviews

Updated July 17, 2017
262 reviews

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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 (6)

    "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. Helpful (6)

    "A different breed of corporate"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee in Westport, CT
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee in Westport, CT
    Recommends
    No opinion of CEO

    Pros

    It's a great place to be if you want to be in a direct and open environment without the corporate nonsense. It's great if you don't expect to be told what to do at every turn an enjoy independence. You're given feedback and challenged, so there's a lot of opportunity for growth if you're open to the challenge.

    Cons

    You have to prove yourself at every step. That's daunting if you're not used to it. As the company grows it gets harder to keep the lack of bureaucracy a reality.

    Advice to Management

    Ensure Bridgewater stays a unique place to work through any means necessary. As the company grows, the culture takes a hit.

  3. Helpful (20)

    "Amazing company."

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Quality Assurance Lead in Westport, CT
    Current Employee - Quality Assurance Lead in Westport, CT
    Recommends
    Approves of CEO

    Pros

    I like almost everything about this company. Great people. Great people. Great work culture. I love the culture and principles. I was frustrated at other companies where it was very difficult to communicate ideas, innovate solutions, improve processes.. This is the place where everybody listens to you and challenge you to excel in everything you do.

    Cons

    On the one hand, the culture of the company is the best, but on the other hand, it becomes a problem to many, especially experienced hires.

    Advice to Management

    Should focus on improving the processes in some departments. But otherwise, everything is good.


  4. Helpful (2)

    "Great management"

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

    Pros

    Best series of managers I've ever worked for. Genuinely wanted to bring out the best in employees. When I met Ray, I found he was a great person as well.

    Cons

    Potential long hours, must have tough skin, an ego that does not impede, and/or ability to handle constructive criticism.

    Advice to Management

    N/A


  5. Helpful (2)

    "Working here will make you better if you check your ego at the door"

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

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

    Pros

    - Truly no politics, total transparency and honest conversations
    - Meritocracy, as far as I can tell
    - People deeply care about each other
    - A lot of good feedback, if you are open to it and want to improve
    - The smartest people you will likely ever work with
    - A fascinating culture that can be hard to get accustomed to for many, and for some will feel like the best fit in the world
    - All the obvious benefits of working at the worlds biggest and most successful hedge fund

    Cons

    - The company has grown quickly and there is likely dead wood and lots of inefficiency due to adaptation. Some departments worse than others and a couple bordering on dysfunctional, although all the key investment departments are ok
    - The adjustment from traditional business environment can be jarring. No mincing words.
    - Solid work hours (10-11hrs/avg) or more in some groups
    - Not clear why its been so hard to get good outside experienced people to come in and have impact

    Advice to Management

    Sort.


  6. Helpful (3)

    "Very positive experience driven by a pursuit of excellence, thoughtful people, and an unorthodox but effective culture."

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

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

    Pros

    -You work with a lot of truly exceptional people (intelligent, high bar for excellence, very thoughtful, sound judgment.) This is really, really invigorating.
    -If you are willing to go out and get it, there is nearly an unlimited opportunity for learning. Feedback is sometimes harsh, but very often enlightening as a way to improve oneself. Quite frankly, I think people telling you things you may not want to hear but will make you better is a damned good indication that they care about you and/or your learning.
    -The culture is very strong and has a lot of benefits (and some issues, to be sure)... The bottom line is that without having worked here for a reasonable period of time, the culture will not make much sense because there is not sufficient context - There isn't enough space to explain it here. What I will say is that I worked at BW for 5 yrs, have reasonable professional experience elsewhere, and consider myself well-adjusted. I literally have no idea how some people can draw the conclusions that they are drawing. You'll have people calling it crazy (I am an excellent bettor, and I'd bet that the majority of those people are likely either more emotional side of the spectrum [which is totally fine, just not something BW's culture is particularly tailored to], stubborn, or are just bitter because they were fired), which I think is a pretty unfair assessment and highly unlikely to be true given how effective the culture has been at (a) retaining a large number of employees that lasted past 12 months and (b) generated excellent investment outcomes for decades.
    -The company parties are really fun. The company goes all out, the event planning team is awesome, the younger employees aren't afraid to let loose, and even the more experienced people enjoy a good social atmosphere. The peak of fun was 2007-2009, but I think the social scene is still fairly vibrant.
    -The benefits and perks are certainly north of market.

    Cons

    -There are very, very, very few influential investment decision-makers (let's say 4-5 inner circle, and 5 more right outside that). That's it. If anyone says otherwise, they're lying. The bar for being one of these people is exceptionally high, and the path to get there is ill-defined and quite frankly, involves a fair bit of randomness (honestly, you need to be exceptionally sharp and conceptually gifted, but there is a right-place, right-time element to it.) If this is what you want to be, you're fighting an uphill battle. There are other rewarding roles at BW, but don't expect a seat at the table. Plus, as the cream has risen to the top in the last few years, there is just a much smaller probability of getting to these roles.
    -Compensation-wise, they certainly pay less than other hedge funds (their A-players get paid handsomely relative to everyone else, but even the A-level is less than other smaller shops), but at BW's size and with it's structure (analyst don't have their own books, P&L, or even individual investment ideas), that should be expected. With that being said, they pay well, but I certainly would not put it in the "pros" as others have. This comment applies only to investment professionals, as that is the only thing I have context for.
    -Work/Life balance is tricky. People work hard, but the experience is all-encompassing. Most of my friends were BW people. I didn't mind this, but over time, it became tough to escape work. People liked their jobs generally, but there were ups and downs. Social dinners involved talking about work ups and downs. People knew how to talk to each other in the parlance that BWers often used. The culture is great, but it is so hilariously easy to make fun of, so we did that too while we simultaneously appreciated it's value. Like I said, a positive thing for me, but perhaps a negative for some. Work is also really tough and intense usually, so I'd come home with my brain mush. It was tough, but rewarding.


  7. Helpful (2)

    "Never a dull moment"

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

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

    Pros

    I’ll try to add some color from my own experiences without rehashing too much of what others are saying:

    - As I titled it, never a dull moment. Virtually every day there is something fresh happening, something kooky to laugh at, new opportunities for impact or growth, or just good old fashioned camaraderie. I have basically never been bored at work and I have a ton of fun on a day-to-day basis.

    - If you want to understand markets, you aren’t going to find a better place for training. I don’t understand folks on this thread who say that they don’t have useful skills when they leave. Understanding markets and economies in a way that is both deep and practical isn’t useful?

    - The part of the culture I like the best is the self-correcting nature of it. I find it deeply calming to know that when something dumb is happening to me (e.g. if I had an incompetent manager, or I am encountering bureaucracy) it is unlikely to persist, and that I am empowered to squash it.

    - I actually put the work/life balance as a pro, though I do recognize I’m a bit of an outlier in that regard. I think many or most of the work/life balance issues people have here are self-imposed by their own personalities. I’ve been super clear with my managers that I am going to work 50 hours a week or a tick above as needed, and no one has had a problem with that in 6.5 years. Then I get in early M-F so my nights and weekends are wide open for family and hobbies.

    Cons

    - If you bring the culture home, you need to do so with care. “Yes honey, now that you mention it, that dress does make you look fat.” Yikes.

    - My days, and by extension my career path, are not things that I could have predicted. I find that exciting and liberating. Others find that stressful and demoralizing. It’s a question of personal preference.

    - Relative to many other employers, you may have higher highs and lower lows. Again, not necessarily a con, but it is for some. A few days after it happens, your mistakes are unbelievable learning tools if reflected on and examined objectively. In the moment when you realize the blunder and are getting lit up…that just isn’t fun, even if it is constructive.

    - I think we have too many people. Until that gets resolved (and I believe it will), there will be some bureaucracy/bumping into each other.

    Advice to Management

    Impose hours caps on people who don't have the self-control to work a reasonable number of hours and are burning themselves out.

  8. Helpful (1)

    "Lucky to Get the Chance to Work Here"

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

    I worked at Bridgewater Associates (Less than a year)

    Pros

    If you goal is lifelong learning and to be successful in all forums of your life - this is one of the best places in the world to train. There are few places as devoted to understanding you & your development.

    - People: Some of the most exceptional, talented people you'll ever meet have found their way to Bridgewater. Incredibly humble and authentic on the whole. Many seem to become lifelong relationships. You want to go to work everyday.

    - Your Development: There are prb few places - let alone corporate companies - on this planet that devote as many resources to understanding you and helping you develop. The open feedback and culture all drive to understand the truth about you and flush out both your strengths and weakness. The understanding is not judgement based - it's incredibly useful. If you are open to taking feedback, you can learn to guardrail against your weaknesses and amplify your strengths. Not criticism- real feedback .

    - Culture: A unique place. A real meritocracy. Refreshing – no closed door conversations. You will see best practice management principles you read about in books, actually practiced here. Hyper logical, rational thinking. Clarity wins the day.

    - Opportunities & Work: The things you get to do will blow your mind. From working with famous entrepreneurs , investors, and scientist to working on cutting edge problems. The organization is adaptive and in a constant state of change. Which means you can have incredible impact. Not structured or run like a "hedge fund". More of an institution. Job assignment works on matching you (based on your unique ability profile) to the highest demand "problems to solve.

    - Perks: There are many. Great healthcare. Attention to details: A bus that goes to and from NY each day, social events, free lunch and breakfast, BBQs during the summer....

    Cons

    Less Cons, more Considerations:

    About Bridgewater

    - Hard to understand organization structure from outside. Within the company there are areas devoted to research, tech, 'client financial advisory', operations...

    - It’s a very hard gig to land

    - Read the Principles by Ray Dalio

    About You

    - You have to ask good questions, and learn to ask better ones

    - If you don’t like confronting what you are really like / your ego, may not be the place for you

    - May encounter very different principles than you've seen in your career. For example "content less management" (e.g. By and large, the idea management is a practice unto itself).

    - It will take a little while to adapt, and then once you do, you’ll have a hard time working anywhere else. People who leave Bridgewater seem to miss it ( I know I do!)


  9. Helpful (4)

    "True meritocracy; strong focus on talent development; no politics"

    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 (More than 5 years)

    Pros

    - True meritocracy -- Your scope of responsibility / success here is largely dependent on the impact and business outcomes you are capable of producing, not on how many years of experience you have or whether or not you've "paid your dues" in lower level analyst jobs if you've shown that you are capable of handling more. Really great environment for young professionals who want to grow fast and be at a firm who is willing to take bets on them.

    - Ongoing focus on talent development and evolution -- I've been here for over 5 years, and have consistently gotten great coaching and mentorship from my managers. From what I've been able to tell from my friends' experiences at other companies across a variety of industries, the level of investment Bridgewaters puts into stretching and pushing its people is unparalleled.

    - Surrounded by some of the smartest people I've ever met -- Every day is dynamic and challenging as a result. You're never really allowed to get away with lazy thinking, which has pushed the quality of my own thinking to improve vastly over the years.

    - Refreshingly open culture -- You don't have to deal with BS office politics, you don't have to constantly wonder what your boss and peers think of you, and you're encouraged to fight for what you think is right. To be clear, all this means you have to put your ego / defensiveness to this side, and have to be openminded to the fact that what you think is right may not actually be right. A culture like this is definitely not for everyone, but it's fantastic for those who share these values.

    - Strong community with deep caring and truly meaningful relationships.

    Cons

    - Biggest challenge for me has been that it's been hard for me to be able to step away from the intensity of the day-to-day to ensure that I am balancing all the other aspects of my life well. It's not actually an hours worked thing -- it's a being able to shut my mind off from the various threads going on at work thing, which I think is a combination of my own personality and the intensity/pace of working at BW (i.e., I am pretty sure I wouldn't have been able to advance to the role that I have today had I attacked my job less intensely).

    - Not a con for me personally, but the key thought that I can't emphasize enough for those who are considering applying to Bridgewater or are going through the interview process -- push hard to make sure you are getting an accurate picture of the culture and how things actually operate in the day-to-day. Ask lots of questions, etc. The culture is really fantastic for those who are looking for that type of experience and journey, but can be pretty unabashedly terrible for those who aren't.


  10. Helpful (2)

    "Exponential Personal Growth"

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

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

    Pros

    Because of my working at Bridgewater for the past almost 3 years, I am a better manager, better husband, better father and better goal achiever (to name a few). I'm grateful that others who care about me have pushed me as hard as they have, I'm grateful that I'm in an environment where I can push others just as hard and I'm grateful that I've had the opportunity to intellectualize the company principles.

    It’s amazing that someone like me who is overconfident, lazy and forgetful, who doesn’t plan well, who doesn’t think about the 2nd and 3rd order consequences of actions well, who has trouble with verbal communication, who is a narrow thinker and who struggles with really seeing things from other people’s perspectives (to name a few) can truly succeed at Bridgewater. Why can this be the case? For the simple fact that I know all of these things about me (and others know as well) and am working hard to ensure they are front of mind in every decision I make. 3 years ago I knew none of this. I’ve learned how my ego (essentially making decisions to maximize for me looking good) inhibits me from getting to the truth and making progress. I’ve learned that I make lots of bad decisions based on really bad assumptions (including assumptions I didn’t even know I was making). I’ve developed a sickness to incompetence and desire not to accept it.

    Whether or not you agree or disagree I strongly suggest (which I do so to all of my close friends and family) you read the company principles and get whatever benefit you can from their “self-help” nature. Having reminders such as “make sure you realize what you are missing” and “make sure you consider whether the other person really knows what they are talking about” (to name just a couple and paraphrased in my words) should have immediate positive impact on you in both your professional and personal lives. Ray recently articulated that Bridgewater’s way of being is “meaningful work and meaningful relationships through radical truth and radical transparency.” Very accurate, very well said and in my opinion is at the core of why Bridgewater is unique and great.

    Cons

    Upsides far outweigh the downsides however it isn't without cons. There is impact to my family in the sense that hours are longer than my work in a different industry prior (but less a function of Bridgewater and more a function of the financial services industry and my ability to deal with it well) and because of Bridgewater's high horsepower environment I'm usually pretty tired when I’m home and take a little while to unwind and recharge (again, these are likely more a function of my inability to deal well vs. a set expectation by management).

    Advice to Management

    Use Greg Jensen who is, in my opinion, a really cool and innovative CEO and mentor to many as a more strategic asset on the external branding. Would like to see him get out more and either sit in with Ray on interviews or do them himself.


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