Sitting in his Tokyo office, Edward Rogers bellows with
laughter. In the five difficult years since he launched his own
fund-of-hedge-funds firm, the CEO and CIO of Rogers Investment
Advisors has kept his sense of humor.
Although some might question the sanity of opening a hedge
fund business in Japan, Rogerss good cheer and
persistence in rough markets have paid off. As of September 30
the $100 million Wolver Hill Japan Multi-Strategy Offshore
Fund he advises had gained an annualized 2.4 percent since its
October 2006 inception. The Tokyo Price Index fell 14.4 percent
during the same stretch, while the Eurekahedge Japan Hedge Fund
Index rose just 0.7 percent.
Rogers, 46, beat the indexes with one quarter the volatility
of the Topix. Hedge funds are absolutely the smartest way
quite possibly the only sensible way to invest in
Japanese public equities, he says. We have allowed
our investors to sleep well at night.
The same cant necessarily be said for Washington
native Rogers, who first came to Japan in 1987 and has lived
there on and off for 17 years. Things havent turned out
the way he hoped in 2006, when he quit his job as Deutsche
Banks head of Japanese prime services sales to go solo.
His plan was to raise $500 million, mainly from U.S.
investors, for a Japan fund. But amid rumors that Japan Inc.
was headed for a fall, he only managed to cobble together
Rogers Investment Advisors has since boosted its advisory
assets to some $140 million, with almost $40 million
committed to a new all-Asia fund that Rogers is pitching
globally. The firm has grown from a two-person start-up to an
11-person company with offices in Tokyo and New York, where
Rogers-owned Wolver Hill Advisors officially does all the
trading for the Japan Multi-Strategy fund.
When it comes to trades, theres little doubt that
Rogerss Tokyo team calls the shots. But this overseas
setup speaks to the challenges of running money in Japan
even for Rogers, a Japanese speaker who got to know the hedge
fund fraternity well during his half decade at Deutsche Bank.
Unlike Hong Kong and Singapore, his adopted country
doesnt smile upon hedge funds. Japan is the hardest
place in the world to do business, says Christopher
Wells, a partner with law firm White & Case in Tokyo, where
he heads the local chapter of the Alternative Investment