A former WorldQuant exec and Jefferies trader are launching a quant fund with a $1 billion portfolio. Here's how they're planning to avoid the pain that hit their peers in 2020.

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Every financial institution in the world is constantly searching for new, unique datasets that can give them an edge. A new peer coming in May plans to find them and put them to use at record speed.

Red Cedar, a new Stamford, Conn.-based quant fund set to launch in May, is run by CEO Alexander Chernyy, a Russian-born academic who has worked as a quant at Jefferies, WorldQuant, and DE Shaw, and Christopher Dean, the new fund’s president who worked with Chernyy at Jefferies and helped start the bank’s proprietary trading desk. It is being backed by hedge-fund-seeder New Holland Capital.

While Red Cedar declined to disclose how much New Holland Capital had invested, sources tell Insider that its investment will let the new fund run a portfolio worth at least $1 billion. However, it is unclear how much leverage is being used in the portfolio.

Chernyy and Dean told Insider they believe their fund can perform in any market condition thanks to their aggressive hedging of common factors that nearly investor uses as well 70 proprietary factors. Chernyy said the portfolio the pair ran at Jefferies avoided a large drawdown in March of last year when many quants were slammed by the impact of the pandemic.

“Much of the drawdown was avoided but the bounce was retained,” Dean said. 

Quants struggle to recover from the tough first quarter, with managers like Bridgewater, Renaissance Technologies, and Winton Group losing money for the year. Credit Suisse shut down its more-than-$500-million QT fund, and Coatue returned outside capital in its quant strategy.

Meanwhile, the big winners of last year in the hedge fund space were concentrated, human-run funds, like Dan Sundheim’s D1 Capital and Bill Ackman’s Pershing Square.

See more: Inside the rapid rise and fall of Coatue’s quant fund: How a 23-year-old Wharton wunderkind seized power, alienated employees, and blew a $350 million opportunity

The goal of Red Cedar is to be consistently on the cutting edge thanks to new datasets. 

“We are concentrating on alternative and new datasets with an emphasis on new,” Chernyy said.

The manager is working with ExodusPoint’s former data buyer Chris Petrescu’s new company CP Capital to source new datasets that are not already in use by other players in the space. 

The firm plans to research and test 50 datasets by year-end and hopes 35 of the datasets are producing alpha in their portfolio by 2022’s start — with the near-term goal of having both datasets in the portfolio and assets double every year.

When asked about a possible cap for assets, Chernyy said “infinity.” 

Chernyy, who came to the States to work at DE Shaw, ran WorldQuant’s Moscow and St. Petersburg teams of roughly 35 people when he worked Igor Tulchinsky, and his new fund plans to tap into talent in his home country. Red Cedar is planning to open a Moscow office by mid-February with possible expansions to St. Petersburg, Ukraine, and former Soviet Union countries. 

Read more: POWER PLAYERS: Meet the 24 quants driving the future of hedge funds, from well-known billionaire founders to under-the-radar data chiefs

Chernyy said “anything that can be outsourced should be outsourced,” including research, though he will lead the research efforts from Stamford, Conn. 

“We want to take advantage” of the cheaper labor and untapped potential in these countries, he said. 

The mission statement, Chernyy and Dean reiterated several times, is to not take the easy trades and focus on building a portfolio that can’t be found anywhere else.

“We don’t take the easy way,” Chernyy said. 

SEE ALSO: A rising star from billionaire Philippe Laffont’s Coatue is starting his own hedge fund and has at least $300 million lined up from investors

READ MORE: Here are under-the-radar hedge fund managers who crushed 2020, including a new launch from a former Viking Global portfolio manager and a comeback from a one-time Goldman partner

DON’T MISS: Inside the rapid rise and fall of Coatue’s quant fund: How a 23-year-old Wharton wunderkind seized power, alienated employees, and blew a $350 million opportunity

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Source: businessinsider
A former WorldQuant exec and Jefferies trader are launching a quant fund with a billion portfolio. Here's how they're planning to avoid the pain that hit their peers in 2020.