Meet 2022’s Hedge Fund Rising Stars
These ten up-and-comers will be honored at Institutional Investor’s Hedge Fund Industry Awards on April 27.
One is a classical pianist. Another is a former minor league baseball player. Two others are sons of iconic Wall Streeters.
All of them have one thing in common: They are among Institutional Investor’s ten newest Hedge Fund Rising Stars.
The class of 2022 — the first since 2019, thanks to a two-year hiatus for the pandemic — includes several who run their own hedge fund firms, such as Andrew Cohen of Difesa Capital Management and Michael Englander of Greenland Capital Management. These two Rising Stars are the sons of Peter Cohen and Izzy Englander, respectively.
Others work within very large organizations, including Ziang Fang of Man Numeric and Alex Schiller of Bridgewater Associates.
Still others are allocators, including Adrienne Clough of DUMAC, Marshall Hendler of Optima Asset Management, and Yan Kvitko of CPP Investments.
All of these individuals have distinguished themselves within their organizations or at past jobs and have been nominated by their colleagues, industry peers, or others who know them well.
There is no guarantee that they will develop into full-fledged stars — but they are certainly ones to watch.
The son of two philosophy professors, Schiller took a few courses in his parents’ passion before choosing to major in math at Princeton University. His senior thesis was on Malliavin calculus, a type of stochastic math that Schiller describes as a branch of an obscure branch of math.
When he graduated in 2009, he joined Bridgewater Associates, the macro specialist where he had previously interned. “I was not set on working in finance,” he recalls. “But I was pretty adamant about working with hardworking, smart, challenging, interesting people.”
Although he says the world’s largest hedge fund firm is not quantitative, he asserts that he studies some of the most complex problems in the world: financial markets and economies. “My entire career I have been studying how money flows around the world,” he explains.
Schiller currently leads the fixed-income research team and is one among a small group of senior investors on the firm’s investment committee.
He is credited, in part, with driving the firm’s research into the ripple effects of quantitative easing on global markets, as well as with overseeing and improving the firm’s projections of credit supply and demand.
What do his parents think of his career path, given that his father came of age during the anti-establishment 1960s — and, Schiller muses, is “not a great lover of capitalism” — and given that his mom is from Sweden, a much more socialist country?
“The most important thing to them is intellectual honesty,” Schiller says.
Simanovsky says he has carved out a niche since founding Conversant Capital in 2020.
The hybrid hedge fund firm, which has already grown to $1.5 billion in assets under management, invests across the capital structure in credit and equity, public and private companies, and real estate and adjacent sectors such as senior living and digital infrastructure.
Conversant earmarks as much as 35 percent of capital commitments for private investments with up to ten years of duration.
Its strategy is driven by the belief that a hybrid investment approach to real estate and related sectors offers a structural advantage, given that roughly 90 percent of real estate deals take place in the private markets.
“We started with a blank sheet of paper,” recalls Simanovsky, who grew up in Tennessee and was the first member of his Russian immigrant family born in the U.S. “It is a unique approach, which provides us a competitive advantage.”
Conversant invests in real estate companies and platforms, as opposed to single buildings or projects, as it sees partnering with and advising strong management teams as the best way to drive returns at scale.
Simanovsky says he was heavily influenced by his experiences at earlier jobs.
After graduating from Emory University with a BA in economics, he worked at investment bank Houlihan Lokey on the restructuring team, which subsequently moved to Rothschild. This is where he says he “learned the value of free cash flow and liquidity and what makes companies solvent,” as well as how to deal with management teams to navigate complex multiparty negotiations.
After three years, he moved over to investment giant Cerberus, where he saw the benefits of investing in both public and private markets and having a wide-open mandate.
Simanovsky then joined Senator Investment Group, where a nine-year tenure helping to build out opportunistic real estate investments across the capital structure culminated in his becoming partner. His group emphasized traditional commercial projects and nontraditional investments such as self-storage, marinas, gaming, lodging, cell towers, and data centers, among others.
Says Simanovsky: “We think there is always something to do, public or private, credit or equity.”
When Hendler left for Tufts University, he planned to major in economics. But after taking several interesting history courses, he changed majors — keeping economics as a minor.
Uninterested in teaching — the natural path for a history major — Hendler went to work as a paralegal at a pair of law firms mostly specializing in employment and civil litigation, thinking he wanted to be a trial lawyer. “I learned skills for life — attention to detail, how to do research and deal and talk with clients,” says the northern New Jersey native. He ultimately chose not to go to law school when he discovered many legal colleagues were unhappy. By contrast, “those in tech and finance raved about the quality of their lives,” he recalls.
Hendler joined Optima in January 2013 after an introduction from a friend. Optima is an alternatives allocator specializing in hedge funds and multimanager offerings that also has a single-manager platform. In 2019, it was acquired by the Forbes Family Trust. Then in February 2021, the trust’s owner, FWM Holdings, merged with Stanhope Capital Group.
After joining Optima, Hendler began working in marketing and investor relations, learning the marketing materials and often volunteering to attend due diligence meetings. “I soaked up as much as I could,” he says. “I got a crash course in hedge funds.”
This commitment served him well. In 2018, Hendler moved into the research department, where today he is a vice president covering the firm’s U.S. equity allocations and helping oversee several single-manager funds. He also has responsibility for health care and biopharma coverage. Hendler previously covered discretionary and systematic managers in global macro strategies.
“I speak to over 100 managers a year,” he notes.
When Wolff enrolled at Harvard, he had one goal in mind: to play baseball.
His father, Rick, played for Harvard and then for a few years in the minor leagues, and has spent his career in baseball and the larger sports industry. Meanwhile, his grandfather Bob was a Hall of Fame sportscaster and the longtime voice of the Washington Senators and national broadcasts.
“All we talked about at dinner was baseball,” Wolff recalls. He too went on to play minor league baseball, for two uneventful years. Minor league baseball didn’t pay well, and his career path abruptly changed when he started a website geared toward job seekers to help him generate extra income. Wolff concedes that the business showed more promise than his baseball career — and one of his investors suggested that he walk away from pro ball to focus on technology entrepreneurship and investing.
“I was excited about the new adventure, but my grandfather definitely was sad to have his grandson leave the professional baseball world given how much he loved the game,” he recalls.
Wolff earned his MBA from Columbia University in an accelerated program. On the same day he got an offer to play for a minor league team, he received a call from Goldman Sachs. Wolff chose to join the investment bank’s tech banking program — against the advice of his grandfather. He went on to hedge fund Andor Capital when it relaunched, following internet and software companies. His next move was to Omega Advisors, where he eventually took over the tech portfolio. “I learned so much from Lee” Cooperman, the firm’s founder, Wolff says. “He’s a tough-love kind of guy. I learned to be patient and let things compound.”
After a brief departure, Wolff returned to Omega in early 2019. He left again in the summer of 2020 to start C243 Capital, named for the baseball bat model. During the process of launching C243, Wolff had several conversations with Insight Partners and ultimately decided to team up with the firm to create Insight Partners Public Equities, which focuses on late-stage private and public investing.
As for what his late grandfather thought about his new career: “He made peace with my path,” Wolff says. “He thought maybe one day his grandson will buy a baseball team.”
Growing up in Des Moines, Iowa, Clough always considered herself to be a “math and science kid.” In fact, in eighth grade her National Spelling Bee team advanced to the rounds televised on ESPN, and her high school Science Bowl team won the nationals in her senior year.
So when Clough headed off to Princeton University — where she earned an undergraduate degree in engineering — she was looking for a rigorous engineering program, as well as a strong liberal arts environment, to broaden her horizons.
This education proved useful immediately after Clough graduated, when she took a job as an analyst in the university’s investment office. She says her three years working at Princo required “a liberal arts mindset with a quantitative underpinning.”
Eager to further expand her experience, Clough subsequently worked for the Boston Consulting Group and for a private equity firm, sandwiched around getting her MBA at Duke University in 2010. While working toward the MBA, Clough was elected as a Young Trustee, a sitting member of the Duke University Board of Trustees. She served a two-year term after completing her degree, spending the first year as an observer and the second as a full member of the board.
In 2014, Clough returned to Duke to join the Duke University Investment Office as a manager on the private team, before switching over to the public team in 2017. In this role, Clough spends most of her time on DUMAC’s hedge fund portfolio.
“It’s very entrepreneurial and exciting working with early-stage managers,” she says.
DUMAC has been partnering with emerging managers since before the Great Financial Crisis, and the vast majority of its portfolio today comprises managers who were emerging when DUMAC initially invested.
“We look for managers who are driven to excellence, demonstrate high integrity, and are financially aligned,” Clough notes.
Cohen has been teaming up with his iconic Wall Street dad, Peter Cohen, ever since the younger Cohen dropped his pencil on the floor in fifth grade. While bending down to pick it up, he noticed that many of his classmates were wearing Nikes — an observation he relayed to his dad. Peter Cohen, then at Lehman Brothers, explained how his son could invest in the company — but also how he could lose on the investment. The elder Cohen invested some money for his son and bought some Nike stock for himself. They made a nice profit when they sold two years later.
In 2019, the father-and-son duo co-founded Difesa Capital Management with Greg Davis, who serves as a portfolio manager. The hedge fund firm specializes in equity and equity-linked investments with a focus on special purpose acquisition companies. Despite the many troubles faced by blank-check companies in the wake of 2020’s SPAC boom, Difesa, which manages a little less than $100 million, posted a 19.9 percent gain in 2021 and is up 105 percent since its July 1, 2019, inception.
“There are revenue- and cash flow–driven businesses coming through the SPAC market,” Andrew Cohen says. “There are many ways to make money, and we’re able to extract value through all kinds of phases and protect capital and create idiosyncratic alpha.”
Before launching Difesa, Cohen was one of two partners overseeing the Ramius event-driven and merger arbitrage business within Cowen Investment Management. He had joined Ramius Capital Management — which his father founded in 1994 — in 2001, and stayed with the firm after it merged with Cowen Group in 2009. (The elder Cohen became chairman and chief executive officer of the combined firm.)
In 2011, Andrew Cohen co-founded a nine-person team investing Cowen’s proprietary capital and fiduciary assets in merger arbitrage and event-driven strategies, which he operated until 2018. He also spent a few years as an analyst for Starboard Value founder Jeffrey Smith, who Cohen says had the biggest impact on his career, along with Cowen chief executive officer Jeff Solomon.
When he’s not thinking about SPACs and stocks, Cohen likes to golf, read history, and travel with his wife. He spends a lot of time at ice rinks with his figure-skating daughters.
Englander was always well aware of his famous roots. His father is hedge fund luminary Israel (Izzy) Englander, founder of multistrategy giant Millennium Management, and his uncle was hedge fund pioneer Jack Nash, co-founder of Odyssey Partners.
“It was definitely around,” says the founder of Greenland Capital Management, who received a stock account as a bar mitzvah present. “But my father gave me space to find my own place.”
Englander majored in economics at Stanford University and then earned his MBA at Columbia Business School. He developed a passion for allocating capital when he joined one of his professors from Columbia, who was a hedge fund manager at Hite Capital Management. Englander served as an analyst of hedge fund managers for a fund of managed accounts, which he asserts was the first of its kind in the industry.
In 2006, he joined his father at Millennium, where he worked as an analyst and a sub-portfolio manager for three different portfolio managers — two in credit long-short strategies and one in an equity long-short strategy focused on health care stocks.
Over the past four years, Englander has built and managed a development platform for emerging portfolio managers with shorter track records than those of the more seasoned talent that Millennium tends to target.
This unit inside Millennium — called Series — was set up under the firm’s U.S. equity long-short division. From the outset, Englander planned to expand the mandate to include additional strategies, geographies, and asset classes.
The entire business unit — including the management team and PMs — was spun out at year-end 2021, and on January 3, 2022, Greenland launched its flagship hedge fund under the new entity.
Greenland is run like Millennium with respect to capital allocation, deal terms, and risk management. As of March 1, it had $327 million in capital. It has ten market-neutral, sector-focused, discretionary fundamental long-short teams, with additional teams under contract that are expected to go live later this year.
Growing up during the 1990s in Lianyungang, China, Fang remembers hearing a common refrain: “You make money by stir-frying stock tickets.”
In other words, invest in the stock market. China’s stock market had just opened in the early 1990s, and seemingly everyone was talking about the new market’s wealth creation effect, which nobody had seen before.
Fang took the advice, which he says changed his life, to heart. “It shaped me and influenced me to get involved in economics and finance,” he recalls.
Fang earned a bachelor’s degree in economics at Renmin University of China. After spending his junior year at the University of California-Berkeley in an exchange study program organized between UCB and Renmin, he fell in love with the U.S. educational system. So upon graduating, Fang headed to the MIT Sloan School of Management, where he received a master’s degree in finance.
“I was fascinated by how to use quant methods to understand stock market dynamics,” Fang says.
That passion landed him at Man Numeric, the $41.9 billion fundamentally driven quant manager of Man Group. Fang is co–portfolio manager for Man Numeric’s emerging markets and China A-share strategies, focusing on day-to-day portfolio management and alpha signal research. He also leads Man Numeric’s onshore China product development efforts, spearheading research into alternative data sources.
Fang says he has drawn heavily on his extensive training in statistics, computer programming, and econometrics in his work at Man.
“Financial markets are extremely dynamic and complicated,” he says. “The models provide a way to approach them structurally and not get lost in the weeds.”
Talk about hedging: At Stanford University, Kvitko studied classical piano while earning a BS in computer science. “I always had multiple interests,” he says.
Kvitko was born in Russia and immigrated to the U.S. with his family in 1989, when he was 10. After receiving an MA in piano performance from the Conservatorium van Amsterdam, he pursued a career in finance, landing at Ziff Brothers Investments, where he programmed models for the quant team. Kvitko then moved to New Holland Capital, which was managing a large portfolio of Dutch pension assets invested in hedge funds. He served as a senior portfolio manager responsible for investment research and portfolio management, focusing on quantitative strategies.
In 2019, Kvitko joined CPP Investments, which oversees and invests funds held by the Canada Pension Plan, as a managing director in the external portfolio management team. He now heads up the London-based five-person team responsible for the emerging manager program, which invests in fledgling hedge fund managers.
The EPM team oversees $40 billion invested in more than 60 external managers. Within this group, the emerging managers program has invested $5 billion in 14 managers across all public market hedge fund strategies over the past five years. It avoids funds that specialize in the private space, including private equity funds and private credit. It invests in start-ups and does three to five deals per year with new talent. Kvitko’s team initially puts up $100 million to $300 million per fund and hopes to double or triple the investment within a few years if the fund graduates to become a core investment. “Our goal is to hold the investment for ten or more years,” he says.
As for piano playing, Kvitko restricts performances to family and friends these days, while teaching his seven-year-old daughter, Sonya, how to play.
After Packard graduated from his New Jersey high school, he cold-called an individual connected to the school to request an internship. “I didn’t know what he did in finance,” he recalls.
As it turns out, the contact ran a venture capital firm where Packard went on to work for two summers. “I realized how interesting finance is and decided to make it my focus,” he says. By the time Packard graduated from Johns Hopkins University in 2004 with an economics degree, he had nine different internships under his belt.
His extensive experience helped Packard land his first job at Morgan Stanley. He started off on the real estate team as an analyst, splitting his time between the banking and principal sides. About a year later, he went to the London mergers and acquisitions team.
In 2007, Packard moved to the Morgan Stanley principal investing team in London, where he analyzed growth and private equity investments.
For six months, he spent several days each week in Russia trying to buy a bank. Over another six-month stretch, he spent his time looking for deals in Middle East countries, including the UAE and Egypt.
After the 2008 financial crisis, Packard’s team specialized in workouts, including absorbing billions of dollars of public equities and bonds from various Morgan Stanley trading desks.
Packard parlayed his workout experience into a job at Anchorage Capital Partners, opening the distressed specialist’s London office as the firm’s first hire there.
He later returned to the U.S. to join event-driven firm Soroban Capital Management around the time of its launch. He worked there as an analyst, devoting much of his time to industrials and commodities. Packard then spent five years at Roystone Capital, where he was hired ahead of the firm’s launch to follow industrials. After a year, he also took over tech coverage.
In 2020, Packard left to start Hiddenite Capital Partners, named for the city in North Carolina where he lived for part of his childhood. The firm, which manages between $90 million and $100 million, focuses on global long-short equity — specifically industrials and tech — but also makes credit investments and adds options on top of them.
“Industrials and tech are the antithesis of each other,” Packard says. “They play well off each other due to the disruption element. Tech drives changes seen in the industrial economy.”