Looking back on Iwanowski’s slowed SECOR and James Simons’ quiet ambition

By Rob Copeland

Tue Sep 25, 2012

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AR also revisits Hildene Capital Management’s new fund.


One year ago
»» SECOR Asset Management, the advisory and investment management firm launched by former Goldman Sachs Asset Management quant co-chief Ray Iwanowski and former General Motors Asset Management CIO Tony Kao, was planning to roll out systematic macro hedge funds as early as the beginning of 2012. The fund launches were said to be part of SECOR's Alpha Strategies business line.

In a difficult environment for launches, the fund is still in the planning phases, and is slated to start trading in the second half of the year, external spokesman Scott Tagliarino confirmed. Details remain scarce: The firm's website simply says the funds "will implement a wide breadth of quantitatively-driven investment strategies across a diverse range of asset classes, geographies, factors, themes and time horizons."

»» Hildene Capital Management opened a new distressed credit fund three years after launching a highly-profitable initial strategy focused on trust preferred securities.

The new launch, called the Opportunities Fund II, finished last year up 5.35% and has soared 27.30% this year through the end of August (see full data here), compared with a 7.69% rise for the Absolute Return Distressed Index.

The new fund manages $130 million, while the flagship manages $510 million (data for that fund here). Both are managed by Brett Jefferson, a former portfolio manager at Marathon Asset Management.

See also: Hildene's pure play Five funds to watch

Five years ago
»» Renaissance Technologies founder James Simon was quietly marketing the Renaissance Institutional Futures Fund, to invest mainly in exchange-traded futures and options, including energy, commodities, bonds and equities.

The fund eventually launched in October 2007 with $1.2 billion, near the apex of the hedge fund industry's success. Hurt by poor performance in 2008 and a weak showing this year, the fund has produced an annualized return of just 3.47%. That compares with a net annualized return of about 6% for the Absolute Return Managed Futures Index, though Renaissance marketing materials note that "in designing RIFF, no effort was made to track any index, and there is no expectation that it will do so." The fund managed $944 million as of August, down from $3 billion in 2009.

The fund charges only 1%/10% fees-roughly half the industry median-and equal to the new multistrategy Renaissance Diversified Alpha Fund, the largest new fund launch so far of 2012 (see full data here).

External spokesman Jonathan Gasthalter declined to comment.

See also: Renaissance veteran preps quant fund James Simons to retire Renaissance backs former SAC manager