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Diary of a Hedge Fund Manager: From the Top, to the Bottom, and Back Again Hardcover – January 12, 2010

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Editorial Reviews

From the Inside Flap

Diary of a Hedge Fund Manager is an insider's view of the high-stakes money management world. In a distinctly straightforward and, at times, humorous style, Keith McCullough and Rich Blake take you on the journey of a young and successful hedge fund manager and former junior hockey player from Thunder Bay, Ontario, as he gets recruited to the Ivy League, stumbles onto the nexus of the hedge fund universe, and then gets a crack at running his own pile—becoming one of the best young portfolio managers on the Street.

But when the young portfolio manager finds himself working for one of the world's most prestigious firms—helping to run their hedge fund operation just as the market is starting to crack in 2007—McCullough becomes a lonely voice of reason in a world that rewards groupthink and disregards the adage about past performance having no bearing on future results. When McCullough finds himself shown the door, the story takes a fascinating turn into the world of independent research and no-holds-barred criticism.

Page by page, this fast-paced ride through the world of hedge funds reveals the unvarnished truth of how Wall Street and hedge funds really operate and offers real-world investment lessons you can take away and put to good use.

Written with the authority of someone who knows how Wall Street and hedge funds work, yet accessible to even a casual follower of finance, Diary of a Hedge Fund Manager mixes a constructive critique of the investment industry with fundamental lessons that any investor will find valuable.

From the Back Cover

"An engaging and fascinating memoir of a Wall Street insider who foresaw the crisis and lost his job for it. McCullough has written an insightful firsthand account of our modern Rome before—and after—its fall. The author stands head and shoulders above his peers with his phenomenal trading track record, personal integrity, and skill at communicating his unique experiences."
—Richard L. Peterson, MD, Managing Director, MarketPsy Capital LLC; author, Inside the Investor's Brain

"If an unholy offspring of Lester Bangs and Don Cherry traded and wrote a financial market diary, it might be something like the smart, hip, and crunching commentary hedge fund manager Keith McCullough delivers every day. Keith is on a short list of must-reads in a business filled with also-rans."
—Dr. Paul Kedrosky, Editor, Infectious Greed; Managing Director, IG Holdings; Senior Fellow, Kauffman Foundation

"Diary of a Hedge Fund Manager should be added to the list of must-read books on Wall Street. It is very rare that readers get this kind of insight into the world of what Wall Street calls the "smart money". McCullough's exciting and inspirational story reinforces the fact that hard work pays off. The book does a great job of pointing out that, on Wall Street, common sense and hard work trump a PhD—without actually saying it. His honesty is refreshing and reminds us all that the giants of the hedge fund world are mere mortals. This story is one that both Wall Street and Main Street can relate to and learn from."
—Douglas M. Famigletti, CFA, Managing Director, Griffin Asset Management, Inc.

"Like Liar's Poker and Fiasco before it, Diary of a Hedge Fund Manager offers a fascinating, funny, and frightening account of life on the Street. An indispensable account of how the financial-industrial complex destroyed so much of the 'value' it purported to create."
—Dan Burrows, Senior Writer, DailyFinance

"The hedge fund world is notoriously secretive. But in Diary of a Hedge Fund Manager, Keith McCullough reveals what's behind the curtain to show an industry that frequently is little more than a lot of smoke and mirrors, much the same way that Toto revealed the Great and Mighty Wizard of Oz to be nothing more than an ordinary man."
—Michelle Leder, founder and Editor,; author, Financial Fine Print

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Wiley; 1 edition (January 12, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0470529725
  • ISBN-13: 978-0470529720
  • Product Dimensions: 6.2 x 0.9 x 9.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (39 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #637,128 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Keith McCullough is the CEO of Hedgeye Risk Management (formerly known as Research Edge). Prior to founding the company, Keith McCullough built a 10-year background of managing money at The Carlyle Group's hedge fund, Magnetar Capital, Falconhenge Partners, and Dawson-Herman Capital Management. Keith got his start as an institutional equity sales analyst at Credit Suisse First Boston after earning his Bachelor of Arts in Economics from Yale University, where he captained the Yale Varsity Hockey Team to a Division I Ivy League Championship. Keith is also a Contributing Editor to Bloomberg Television, where he appears regularly, and his pre-market commentary morning strategy note dubbed the "Early Look", appears on, every trading day.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

18 of 20 people found the following review helpful By P. Scott Pope on October 26, 2011
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
There are two big takeaways to be gleaned in this book: 1) hard work can overcome a lack of innate intelligence only up to a certain point 2) investors become addicted to their bad habits.

One the first point, McCullough justifiably argues that he is incredibly hard working, often arriving at work 4:00 AM. In one of his early job interviews out of college, he asked what would make him a good candidate. McCullough asked if the interviewer has a ball. Confused, the interviewer responds "why?" McCullough responds, "If you place me in a dark room with the other candidates, throw a ball in, I will come out with the ball. [Paraphrased]" This is a continuation of his evolution from his working class upbringing to a Yale hockey player to a hedge fund manager. Yet, as the reader follows the story and synthesizes the larger picture, it is clear he has no hope of becoming a star manager.

On the second point, it is evident that McCullough held onto his strategies when they weren't working, leading to a disastrous outcome. At the same time, he talks of hiring Yale hockey players and using such criteria in the HR process. Somewhat ironically, this approach has merit due the high bar set for those who reach Yale and are able to play college sports successfully. Yet, the greatest star investors historically have not followed this paradigm even though investment bankers, traders and CEOs often do. The larger issue that managers should focus on strategies/criteria that will work today and in future - loyalty to failed strategies should play no role. We see McCullough appeal to tradition throughout the book.

There is a bit of humor in book, especially on the topic of hockey that may appeal to some readers.
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20 of 25 people found the following review helpful By David Merkel on February 18, 2010
Format: Hardcover
This is a book that gives a feeling for being in hedge fund management, rather than a dry description of what needs to be done if you are in the rare position of being asked to manage a hedge fund.

The author was an ambitious guy. Growing up in Canada, he wanted to play professional hockey. He played ably in youth leagues, the minors, and college. Making the pros was not to be.

So, what does a competitive guy do when he can't pursue his dream? He pursues another dream, managing money. He works hard, and gets one break after another, and eventually manages his own firm, which he sells out to a larger one. He gets a plum job at a firm that proves less than patient with his current performance, and he gets let go. Even that is a triumph for the author. He starts his own firm, which is what he is still doing today.

Think of an analogy to sports -- every player makes mistakes, but the best players recover from mistakes well and learn from them. The author definitely got his share of breaks, both good and bad, but he responded to the bad breaks well, and came out the better for it.

Though this book is about hedge funds and other areas of investing, really, this book is about the author. It tells his story, and as the story gets told, you pick up incidental points along the way:

* What is it like to be an intern at a trading firm?
* How do you learn as you go?
* What was it like inside CSFB during the dot-com bubble?
* How to interview management teams to get an edge.
* How to sense if someone is lying.
* In general, the Fund of hedge funds operators are not desirable clients.
* Get a sense of the strength of consumers
* Get a sense of the three time horizons -- days/weeks, months, and years.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Chip on December 13, 2010
Format: Hardcover
My only regret upon completion of Mr McCullough's excellent book "Diary of a Hedge Fund Manager" was that it was not available in early 2008, when reading it would have likely saved my portfolio from near-obliteration. On page 202, the author describes that one of his goals in writing the book was to inspire self-directed investors to have greater involvement in their portfolios: he accomplished this goal and then some!! Given to me by my wife in Dec 2009, I read the book in a few days over the Holidays then re-read it, and on the second pass highlighted passages which were particularly inspirational. The book was my first real exposure to the concept of risk in portfolio management as well as to the broad theme of "Macro" investing, inspiring me to learn more about understanding the inherent risks in every single position a trader or investor takes, and how to proactively protect oneself from loss, and to appreciate fully the global or macro perspective. I also learned how to differentiate recommendations from buy-side as opposed to sell-side analysts and how the two are different. I won't go into further details about specific material I learned but suffice it to say the concepts introduced here led me to further study of a few hundred hours or so!! I also highly recommend this book to anyone who wants a frank and refreshing discussion of what really happened during the crisis of 2008 rather than simply ascribing it to a once-in-a-hundred-years-storm that could not have been anticipated. Mr McCullough anticipated it well, but is humble enough to suggest that his insight came from hard work, paying attention, and thinking for himself rather than being a soothsayer.Read more ›
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