The Hedge Magazine Interview

Interviews with hedge company founders, fund managers and investment industry experts, published in Hedge Magazine.

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* Gemma Godfrey, founder of Moo.la. “What’s exciting is that now, with technology, you can make it cheaper to provide this service to people. If you can lower the cost of providing this service, then you can open it up to more people.”

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* Erik Serrano Berntsen, CEO and co-founder of Stable Asset Management. “I was looking at starting businesses, and it so happened to be hedge fund businesses. […] What excites me is finding people who want to do something new, set up something they’re proud of, make money for people but also create working environments that are rewarding.”

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* Carl Hall, partner at Alder private equity and author of The Environmental Capitalist. “In five-ten years from now, everything is going to be electric or plug-in hybrid. Those technologies are completely taking over,” asserts Hall. “Once change starts, it goes much faster than you think.”

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* Jean-Francois Comte, co-founder and managing partner of Lutetia Capital. “This may explain why Comte is so methodical when talking about how Lutetia gets its edge: “People can come out of that environment with something of a military thinking – there’s this discipline. In M&A, at that level, there’s no margin for error. One of our staffers used to say to new recruits: ‘The difference between this and war, is that you get to go home’.”

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Dixon Boardman, founder and CEO of Optima Fund Management. “I have befriended many of the managers we have money with. I’ve got to know them well and see them socially, and I know their children. It’s old-fashioned, but I think to know someone really, really well, to know what’s going on in their lives, means you know when they’re focused. […] But let me tell you, we don’t always get it right!” Boardman laughs. “But we get it right more often than we get it wrong.”

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* Ramon Vega, founder and CEO of Vega Swiss Asset Management. “What you’re trying to do, as manager, is make your people feel good, and feel important. Then they are loyal to you, because you made them feel like that. Then you start to have a winning team around you.” The problem is that lots of bosses actually don’t like managing: “They want to go and fix it themselves! But I don’t know any football manager who goes onto the pitch himself if the striker doesn’t score.”

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* Lee Freeman-Shor, portfolio manager at Old Mutual European Best Ideas fund, and author of The Art of Execution. “I’ve always had a natural interest in what’s now called behavioural finance psychology. … I suppose my natural interest in psychology led me to look in the right areas to solve that problem: how the best investors can be wrong most of the time, and still make a ton of money.”

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* Aref Karim, CEO, CIO and founder of Quality Capital Management. “Why does QCM exist? Why are you running the business still?’ It’s because I’m very passionate about it, and more importantly it’s because there’s almost a philosophical and societal purpose behind it.””

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Jean-Jacques Duhot, Chief Investment Officer and Managing Partner of Arctic Blue Capital. “Arctic Blue is very much a culmination of Duhot’s personal experience, I suggest – he’s basically selling investors on his own history. “Yes, absolutely. That’s my journey, that’s where I’ve end up. That’s the recipe. That’s the sauce.””

* Simon Ruddick, co-founder and managing director of Albourne Partners. “I think it’s not only possible, I am bold enough to think it’s probable: the Open Protocol has a potential to be a unifying language of risk across all forms of regulatory reporting. That would be a huge win-win-win.”

* David Tawil and Ryan Kalish, co-founders of HedgePo. “We want to be a big part of what the industry looks like in the future,” says Kalish. Maybe joining the industry in 2008 has something to do with that: “We got involved when everything was gloomy [and] didn’t participate in the bull run of the early 2000s. We have a hunger to leave our mark!”

* Grzegorz ‘Greg’ Konieczny, portfolio manager of Fondul Proprietatea and director of Eastern Europe / Russia Strategy at Franklin Templeton Investments. “But we’re not shy. We prefer to discuss privately with companies first, but when we can’t come to an agreement we’ll go the public, or take the legal route. A lot of people don’t like us! But our goal is to unlock value for the shareholders.”

* Rory Powe, founder and portfolio manager at Powe Capital Management. “People either overestimate you or they underestimate you. It’s better to be underestimated.” So is that what’s happening now then? Powe answers carefully: “Yes because we have kept a very low profile. We are just doing what we do in a steady way. I think we have managed expectations well with our investors, and we just want to be boringly steady.”

* Robert Kosowski, director of the Centre for Hedge Fund Management and professor at Imperial College. “History is full of patterns that repeat, and unfortunately the financial services industry doesn’t necessarily learn. Things get given new labels. But if you look at the various crises, going back to the 1930s, there are a lot of similarities to the current crisis.”

* Francois Buclez, founder and CEO of Cube Capital. “Our goal was to create the ultimate investment product. We settled on the fund of funds model, and I think it’s still the top investment product because it’s a one stop shop. With one investment you can reach every region, every asset class and every strategy in the whole world.”

* Penny Aitken, partner and global head of investment research at FQS Capital. “Sometimes a hedge fund manager can think they are doing one thing, but the evidence says they are doing something completely different. When we share our analysis with the funds, it can make for some very interesting discussions!”

* Jeroen Tielman, founder and CEO of IMQubator. ““Even before the beginning of the crisis, investors had certain complaints about the functioning of hedge funds. This led to a realisation: the provision of seeding capital to new hedge funds, led by people who had been very successful in the past, represents a unique moment of true alignment of interest between the investor and the fund manager.”

* Robin Bowie, founder and Chairman of Dexion Capital. “Many [founder] stories start because people have a vision, but my story is probably more in line with the sort of story that will come out of our current environment. You now see a lot of quite talented people being made redundant, and they will have to find new avenues to earn a living,”

* Sohail Malik, fund manager at ECM Asset Management. “[Investors] are primarily buying into you as a portfolio manager, and part of that job is to be as open and honest as possible. You need to be able to explain your strategy in a simple way. That may sound straightforward, but this is an industry not especially known for its simple marketing appeal.”

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