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- Financial Services Guide
Wong plots course to bring AHL back to trend
22 July 2012
In an industry noted for trade secrets and confidentiality, managed futures funds, like what Churchill famously said of Russia, may be a mystery wrapped inside an enigma. After all, no other hedge fund strategy routinely gets labelled with the tag-line ‘black box’ to describe what is going on with the investment side.
Obviously the big brains behind some of the leading commodity trading advisors or CTAs see it differently. In this respect, Tim Wong the CEO of AHL, Man Group’s $19 billion dollar managed futures flagship, is typical. Joining AHL in 1991 after graduating in engineering from Oxford, Wong has worked his way to the top. It’s no surprise, then, that the algorithms and other processes AHL uses pose little mystery to him.
Nor do investors seem bothered. The overall market share held by CTAs in the hedge fund space is at all time highs. Barclay Hedge estimates that around $328 billion is invested in CTAs, up over 50% since 2008. The reasons for this are straight forward: CTAs are very liquid, risk is documented and managed, while performance, especially through the most acute phases of the credit crisis in 2008-09 was good.
Despite running one of the world’s biggest investment strategies, Wong keeps a low profile and features rarely in interviews. Meeting at Man Group’s airy new Thames-side headquarters our conversation ranges from the persistence of market trends and the impact of technology to the enormous new opportunities on the horizon in China’s futures markets which are expected to become more liberalised in coming years. To begin with, Wong offers a broad overview of what AHL does.
“We try to do something sensible by examining reasonably stable, long-term kinds of correlations and expected returns, while putting this all together with a common sense look at the liquidity of the markets,” he says. “Perhaps because of my engineering background, we focus on how a market actually works. We try to find particular trading rules rather than try to build something that is like a super-complicated times-series forecasting model. We use the technology and systems to test and implement our ideas better. At the end of the day it’s a human game. There’s not much point in building a fancy, complicated mathematical model when that’s not the way the market actually works.”
The full article from the Hedge Fund Journal is available below.