Christmas rapture as hedge fund closure ejects top traders onto market
It's not every day that a hedge fund closes and ejects hundreds of highly desirable, highly talented traders onto the market. It's even less often that this happens just before Christmas when most hedge fund headhunters are stuck in a quagmire because all the good candidates are refusing to move. The closure of Hutchin Hill Capital has therefore made headhunters' Christmases in more ways than one.
"It's like a Christmas bonanza," says one London headhunter, speaking off the record. "Normally no one decent will talk at this time of year. Now, the market's full of them - some of the Hutchin Hill people have four or five offers already."
Founded in 2007 by Neil Chriss from Renaissance Technologies, Hutchin Hill managed $2.2bn. The fund lost 5.5% in the year to November, largely due to losses on its north American investment-grade and high-yield debt fund, which was closed in September. It subsequently shuttered all funds and returned investors' money on November 30th 2017.
Hutchin Hill employed 121 people at its Seventh Avenue in New York according to a regulatory filing announcing layoffs following its closure. A further 19 registered people were based in London according to the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) Register. All are now unemployed, and looking for something new.
In London, one of HH's ex-traders says he hasn't actually racked up the multiple job offers mentioned by headhunters, but that he's looking and things should come through after Christmas: "There is interest out there but a bit early stage to say if it is real or not." In New York, where the bulk of the traders were based, another headhunter says all the big funds are sniffing around: "Hutchin Hill had some very good quant guys and some very good equity long short guys in NY. There are also good rates traders in London," Millennium Management, Balyasny, Citadel and Bluecrest are all said to be interested, with Citadel and Millennium being, "very aggressive." - "They're cherry-picking the best portfolio managers," says the headhunter in NYC.
Desirable ex-Hutchin Hill staff include Li Yang, a machine learning specialist who joined from Bloomberg in 2015, Ernest Baver, a former quant trader from SAC Capital, or Christophe Koudella, a senior quant hired from RBS in 2013.
Perversely, plenty of the fund's employees joined in the past six months. Hutchin Hill increased headcount by 46% (six people in London) from June, with hires like Adrien Legallicier, a rates trader from Bank of America Merrill Lynch and Alessandro Cipollini, a macro portfolio manager from Argentiere Capital. Recent hires in New York include: Kiryl Mauryshchau, a data engineer who joined in July from J.P. Morgan; Andrew Goldberg, an FX portfolio manager who joined in July from BlueCrest, or Michael Solomon, an analyst who joined in July from the U.S. government. Jason Vivas, a senior trader in New York, is having a spate of bad luck: he joined Hutchin Hill in July after his previous fund failed to launch.
As ever, Hutchin Hill's appeal seems to have been down to pay. There are no figures for compensation at the fund in New York, but in the year to December 2016, Hutchin Hill paid its highest earner in London £1.1m ($1.47m) and the average employee £831k. It was good while it lasted. Now, it's up to the headhunters to clean up from Hutchin Hill's demise.
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