Morning Coffee: Wildly successful quant hedge fund manager wants innovators. Living with an M&A banker

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Last time someone sung ‘Happy’ by Pharrell Williams in a corporate context, it was Williams himself at the WalMart shareholders' meeting in June, a performance for which he was widely lambasted. This doesn’t seem to have dissuaded Leda Braga, the most powerful woman in hedge funds, from taking to the stage and giving her own rendition of the song this month after achieving a return of 9.5% in January.

In a lengthy article all about Braga, Bloomberg portrays her as relentlessly optimistic, over-excited even. “Can’t nothing bring me down,” Braga reportedly shouted to her 80 employees and acolytes before breaking into Williams’ totemic ditty. Setbacks don’t derail her either. After some heavy losses in 2013, she was quoted as saying, “I like to say that life goes in cycles. So after every storm comes the sun.”

Exuberance aside, what does it take to work for Braga, who’s now based in Geneva with her own firm, 'Systematica Investments,' after leaving BlueCrest late last year? Try creativity. Although Braga’s style of systemic black-box trading might seem aridly mathematical, she says it’s all about innovation. “We don’t mine the data to come up with ideas. Otherwise you just find incidental data,” she says. “If it’s just a pattern in the numbers, that’s a weak reason. So it’s much better to say you can see why market such-and-such will tank or will rally, and then you hang on to that thesis, because that is a valid idea.”

Separately, Reuters offers an insight into how life might be when you’re married to an M&A banker. It puts Lazard dealmaker Vincent Le Stradic’s success down to his “authentic passion for the job”. This passion has seemingly meant Le Stradic breaking off holidays (in 2012 he interrupted a sailing trip in Sicily to attend to a client) and flying his wife and four children to visit the pyramids in Egypt while he worked on an Egyptian deal on New Year’s Eve. Irrespective of the occasion, when you're married to someone in M&A clients usually come first.


The world’s richest 25 hedge fund managers. All men. (Forbes) 

Deutsche Bank just hired Jeff Urwin from JPMorgan to be co-head of its investment bank. “From Deutsche’s point of view, he has a good pedigree. ”(Financial Times) 

Ross McEwan will not be accepting his £1m role-based allowance. (Sky) 

Goldman Sachs once hired a Mexican immigrant with fake documents and promoted her to VP. This wouldn’t happen now. (Bloomberg) 

JPMorgan Asset Management just rehired a CIO who worked there for 14 years before leaving for a hedge fund (where he spent one year). (FinAlternatives)  

Guy Hands has invested €500m of his own money in his new fund. He has also gone completely grey. (WSJ)

Stuart Gulliver is almost certainly earning a lot less now than when he was head of markets at HSBC. (Euromoney)

Facebook interns are unfeasibly well paid. (BusinessInsider) 

17 things you must never put on your CV. (World Economic Forum) 

Fund manager explains that he has not made any new investments simply because he has had no ‘new ideas’. (Twitter) 

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