If you're looking to break into the hedge fund business, and size matters (which, despite what some ladies and gentleman might tell you, it absolutely does -- at least in the asset management industry), then you best check out Institutional Investor's 10th annual Hedge Fund 100 ranking.
This year, Ray Dalio's Bridgewater Associates tops the list, with $58.9 billion under management.
Dalio, of course, is the CEO who famously runs a very tight and unique ship that many critics believe has more in common with Scientology than a private financial institution, and who emerged from relative obscurity during the past 12 months as interest in his firm's management principles have grown (right alongside its assets).
Ray and Bridgewater have been the subject of several recent cover stories, articles, and interviews, which have generated tons of buzz about the firm's culture, if not an increased interest from jobseekers.
In any case, Bridgewater, as well as other top hedge funds, have these folks to thanks for the rise in their assets as of late: pensions, endowments, foundations, and sovereign wealth funds (a.k.a. Middle Eastern countries such as Abu Dhabi, Kuwait, and Saudia Arabia with loads of black gold).
According to II, "Hedge funds, which started out catering mostly to high-net-worth individuals, family offices and smaller foundations and endowments, are increasingly keen to attract this newer investor base -- and their larger investment tickets. For their part many pension funds and other institutions are beginning to look at hedge fund firms along the same lines as they consider traditional asset management firms, targeting those they perceive to be 'institutional quality' organizations."
In other words, hedge funds are going after folks with very deep pockets, and very-deep-pocketed folks are going after hedge funds who've been killing it (that is, generating annual returns well into the double digits).
On Bridgewater's tail with respect to size are these other big hedge fund firms (which round out the top five, in order of largesse): J.P. Morgan Asset Management, Man Investments, Paulson & Co., and Brevan Howard Asset Management.
(Related: Bridgewater's Ray Dalio Signs Gates and Buffett's Giving Pledge, Bridgewater Associates Is Not a Cult, It's the Future, Bridgewater's Ray Dalio: Cult Leader or Profit Prophet?)