“We’re definitely in hiring mode,” says Motif Investing co-founder and CEO Hardeep Walia. “If you know any talent, send it our way.”
The company, which aims to make it easy to invest in trends and big ideas, is looking to fill a wide variety of positions ranging from accountants and engineers to marketers and research analysts. More specifically, Motif Investing is looking for a Controller to work hands-on and to report to the company’s CFO; a Quantitative Researcher to research, design and manage portfolios (among other duties); and a Research Analyst that will be responsible for generating, researching and evaluating investment ideas (among other duties as well).
“I believe in people who are themselves,” said Walia. “I think a lot of people try too hard to sell. We look for people, honestly, who don’t know it all.”
Walia told StreetID that Motif Investing’s culture is one of “very capable people who don’t necessarily know every answer, but boy they will put every drop of sweat into figuring out the answer very quickly.”
“And we’ve got the right combination of experience in people who have done this before,” said Walia. “But we’ve maintained a hunger to learn, because what we do is very different — it’s about learning from the experience, but also keeping the hunger to make sure we’re applying that experience appropriately and not just blindly applying it but really rethinking the model as we go through everything. And that’s what we look for — a hunger to learn, a hunger to apply what you’ve learned, in a different way.”
Further, Walia said that Motif Investing obviously looks for someone who has an interest in the market. “I think it’s someone who understands the fundamentals, who understands how indexes work,” he said. “People come at it from many different ways, from different perspectives. There’s no set job requirement.”
Walia would not comment specifically on how many employees his company planned to hire. “You can see on our website, we are hiring a lot of roles,” he said. “We have, including contractors, close to 70 people right now.”
When it comes to getting a job, Walia stressed the importance of standing out from the crowd. “A lot of resumes start to look the same,” he said. “I think you’ve gotta tell a story about why you’re different. I think people resonate with, ‘This is how I’m different from all the other candidates out there.’ I don’t think enough people put enough focus on their unique skills versus the skills that a lot of other people have.”
But it’s not just about being original. It’s about persistence. “We’ve hired people who we said no to the first time, but it was their ability to be persistent and convince us” that got them the job, Walia explained. He further stressed his recommendation that job seekers be themselves during the job hunting process.
“Interviews are kind of a funny process,” Walia added. “You have an hour to communicate a lot of things, and a lot of important decisions get made in an interview, especially a first interview, where you’re not getting into as much depth. But people are sizing up, so the ability to communicate is important.”
While a lot of people have disregarded the financial sector during these hard economic times, Walia has faith in its future. “I don’t think anyone can predict the market,” he said. “We’re in quite turbulent times. I don’t think we’ve ever had as much uncertainty, where even the pros are so far apart on their reads. I don’t think anyone has a good sense of where we’re going to be.”
That said, Walia noted that 16 of the 30 stocks in the Dow started in a recession. Motif Investing is no different. “Microsoft started in a recession,” he said. “FedEx started in a recession. A lot of great innovation comes in and I think it’s because you focus on a model where you are not betting on hope. You’re looking at a real, tangible world out there. I think you see great sources of innovation come out of these tough times, and I think it is because we have always come out of recessions. But I am an optimist on the market side. I do believe in what this country has to offer. You can’t help but be optimistic.”
Walia refers to his startup as the “best of Peter Lynch meets Jack Bogle.”
“You’re not gonna be a good stock picker,” he concluded. “Not even the professionals are good at picking stocks. Indexes work for a whole host of reasons. Ideas are around you; you can see them. [It’s] an index-diversified approach versus trying to pick stocks, and that’s what Motif Investing is.”
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