Everyone knows someone who is (or sounds like) an awesome investor. In the vast majority of cases, that investor is struggling to be recognised. Is it because they are all talk and no substance? Is it because they can’t sell themselves? Is it because they just don’t have the right background?

Right now, no one really cares. Either the stars align for you or you are out of luck – no matter how great an investor you might actually be.

Wouldn’t it be great if there were people out there working to do away with the luck element?

Fortunately, there are. You have to sift through a lot of nonsense to find them – glorified resume drop-boxes, trading competitions which are little more than marketing gimmicks, headhunters looking to make a quick buck – but there are a few firms looking to get paid for assessing talent.

Without further ado, here is a list of some of the talent scouts I have come across:

  • Standardised tests (e.g. BAT, WSAT, CC) – Great at setting apart the top 5% from the bottom 95%, but we have found that for truly exceptional talent such tests are quite easy.
  • TransparenCV – Trade ideas used to screen prospective hires on behalf of hedge funds. A beautiful website. Unfortunately, they seem to have had zero growth since launch.
  • UndiscoveredPM – A third-party version of the kind of talent search arm a lot of large funds have. The firm is run by the same guys as Manual Of Ideas, so their industry ties are very solid. Unfortunately there is not really a way to apply – this party is by invitation only – and the music died down last summer.
  • BattleFin – Probably the smartest guys in this list, though their street cred is still second-tier. Winners in their competitions are awarded seed capital rather than jobs.
  • AlphaSeal – A trading competition that awards you coverage by Institutional Investor if you win. Great idea (I may be biased in saying that), but they appear to have no industry partners.
  • Marketocracy – Virtual trading platform launched in 2000 specifically to find talent. Much better trade order handling than at AlphaSeal, but performance analytics are lackluster. They seem to be entirely inward-facing: opportunities awarded to top talent are at Marketocracy only.
  • Markit Academy – Not sure if I should include them here or file them under glorified resume drop-boxes: winners of their trading competitions have their CVs sent to bulge-bracket banks.

Last but not least, there is of course a small shop known as Upgrade Capital. Will explain what sets us apart in another post.