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Hedge Funds and the Darwinian Struggle for Survival

Barry Ritholtz
·2 min read

(Bloomberg Opinion) -- Hedge funds are in a Darwinian struggle, as the cost of succeeding has increased in terms of technology and human capital, says this week's guest on Masters in Business, Luke Ellis, chief executive officer of Man Group Plc. The industry has become a winner-take-all competition, with a small number of stars and an army of also-rans.

Man Group is the world’s largest exchange-listed hedge fund, focusing on actively managed investment, with $104.2 billion in assets under management. Luke previously built and ran the equities-derivative business at JPMorgan and after that the fund of fund business at Financial Risk Management, where he was managing director from 1998 to 2008.

Ellis says his childhood love of horse racing and poker led him to alter the way he thinks about risk; the statistical patterns in gambling and investing are remarkably similar. His interests led him to earn degrees in mathematics and economics from Bristol University.

Our conversation was recorded on Tuesday, June 9, before markets took an 11% hit. You can hear Ellis explain why he thought the market run up had gone too far too fast before that mini-crash.

Ellis credits the firm’s disciplined, quantitative approach for helping the company navigate the big slump in March. The firm’s investments are about 60% hedged and 40% long-only. The hedged portions did especially well. For the first quarter, Man’s total returns were down only 11%, about a third as much as the broader market.His favorite books are here; a transcript of our conversation is here.

You can stream and download our full conversation, including the podcast extras, on iTunes, Spotify, Overcast, Google, Bloomberg and Stitcher. All of our earlier podcasts on your favorite pod hosts can be found here.

Next week, we speak with Jeremy Siegel of Wharton School of Business and Wisdom Tree, discussing valuations and asset management under lockdown.

This column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of the editorial board or Bloomberg LP and its owners.

Barry Ritholtz is a Bloomberg Opinion columnist. He is chairman and chief investment officer of Ritholtz Wealth Management, and was previously chief market strategist at Maxim Group. He is the author of “Bailout Nation.”

For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com/opinion

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