Published by — Bryan Messer
Date — 6.09.21
Role: Technical Consultant
Education: Bachelor of Mathematics, The Hong Kong University of Science and Technology
Interest: Cooking, yoga, board games
Why did you join Messer?
As a graduate I was looking for an environment where I can learn something new every day and that no two days are the same. In particular, I was hoping to gain some knowledge about the financial industry. I wanted to get more hands-on experience at a startup and to be able to apply what I learned from my degree.
Tell me about your role as a technical consultant.
As a technical consultant, I act as the bridge between the clients and the developers. When you support various clients from their front to back office, you get to understand the structure and workflow of various types of funds. Apart from the day-to-day support queries, I also help with implementation and customisation for the clients.
Do you spend the majority of your time on the phone?
People assume that most of my time is spent on the phone answering questions from clients, but that’s actually not true. Most of my time is actually spent on helping clients with their customisation, that includes from understanding their current workflow by talking to each employee, planning their optimised workflow while making use of our available modules, and guiding the execution by communicating their needs to developers.
We also execute many tasks ourselves, including configuring custom reports and various front-end work using python.
What is the best success you achieved in your role so far?
My proudest accomplishment was playing a role in getting Oasis, a multi-billion dollar manager, to onboard with us. In our industry, switching costs are very high due to the time and resources needed to transfer historical data and change user habits. The role I played was to understand by speaking with each user across the firm, each user’s day-to-day workflow and the interdependencies between them, to the point that I am more of an expert on their process than themselves. This knowledge will help me later to persuade clients by proposing a better solution, and streamline the execution.
How was it like to start at Messer as a fresh graduate? Any advice for future applicants?
I wouldn’t say it was easy. Much of the financial knowledge is not taught in school, even if you took a finance course. But I think the logical thinking exercised in a Maths or other scientific degree would help. What made it easier is that our Founder Bryan is very willing to teach, and you work directly with him. He is incredibly experienced and he is willing to share both his knowledge and any new learning. He is also willing to invest in your education, such as by purchasing online courses for the employees — that’s how I learned python!
My advice is definitely to be proactive in your own learning. No one comes in knowing what all of the technical terms mean, but it’s important that you read up to fully understand them.
Where else are the skills you learned applicable?
The skills you learn here are applicable to various positions at various types of hedge funds or asset managers. An operation specialist at a long-only manager may understand the workings of a long-only manager, but they are unlikely to understand how that differs in a multi-strategy fund. In this role, you will understand the organisational structure and workflow of the operations, finance, front-office workers of long-only, equity long-short, multi-strategy funds and the likes.
You’ve been at Messer since 2015, what’s unique about Messer that made you stay?
I think both the working environment and technological environment are quite unique in the industry.
As a player in the technology industry, you will find us being a much earlier adopter to any new language or technology than our peers, as long as we see the value in the long run. That includes cloud, schema-less databases and many more.
Working environment wise, unlike many local organisations, or large corporations in this industry, there is no hierarchy here. We all report to Bryan. It’s fairly work-focused, no office politics. Of course we still have lunch together, talk about our interests, but when you first join, you can focus on doing incredible work rather than feeling pressured to be everyone’s best friend. The lack of hierarchy also means that for the same role working with similar clients, your route to influence is much easier here than elsewhere.