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The 2016 Hedge Fund Rising Stars: Pierre-Adrien Nicolas

Nicolas left Barclays to become CIO for EMEA at buzzed-about hedge fund start-up Squarepoint Capital.

Pierre-Adrien Nicolas
Squarepoint Capital

These are not halcyon days for hedge funds, but as good investors know, that’s when the best opportunities come along. London-based Squarepoint Capital, in a highly anticipated launch, was spun out from Barclays at the end of 2014. Pierre-Adrien Nicolas, the firm’s CIO for Europe, the Middle East and Africa, is still just 32, but he already knows a thing or two about the fickleness of markets.

Nicolas grew up in Normandy, France, the son of a lawyer and a speech therapist. He studied mathematics and physics, receiving a master’s degree in applied math from France’s École Polytechnique before earning an MS in financial engineering at Columbia University in New York. Upon graduating from Columbia in 2007, he joined Lehman Brothers Holdings as a proprietary trader. In hindsight, the quant’s entry into finance could look like bad timing. Nicolas had planned to join Lehman Brothers in New York, but he was hired in London, where he became part of a quantitative trading business started at the bank by Olivier Durantel and Gregoire Schneider in 2000.

The year after Nicolas arrived at Lehman, bad bets on U.S. subprime mortgages and a highly leveraged balance sheet forced it to declare bankruptcy in September. When Barclays bought the Wall Street firm out of Chapter 11, Nicolas and his colleagues found themselves doing proprietary trading for the British bank. Owing to regulatory changes in recent years, banks have been dismantling their prop trading businesses, so it was inevitable that nQuants, as the team was known, would have to spin out of Barclays or otherwise be disbanded. In 2014 news broke that nQuants was leaving. Nicolas was one of a team of about 65 that departed to launch Squarepoint, which began trading in early 2015.

Visit the 2016 Hedge Fund Rising Stars: Ivy League Schools Pave the Way for more.

Hedge Fund Rising Stars of 2016

Jessye Ball
Millennium Mgmt
Sarah Berner
Aristeia Capital
Jenna Bussman-Wise
AIG Investments
Maureen Chang
Point72 Asset Mgmt
Dennis Chenfu
Charles Dufresne Jr.
Sciens Capital Mgmt
William Freda
Graticule Asset Mgmt Asia
Samantha Greenberg
Margate Capital
Mark Gurevich
Ropes & Gray
Tal Gurion
Mariner Glen Oaks
Craig Huie
University of California
Yusef Kassim
Blue Harbour Group
Florian Kronawitter
White Square Capital
Vikram Kumar
TT International
Brandon Levin
Jana Partners
Jonathan Levin
George Weiss Associates
Brett Minarik
Ian Monroe
Etho Capital
Jason Morrow
Utah Retirement Systems
Pierre-Adrien Nicolas
Squarepoint Capital
Jamie Pabst
Green Owl Capital Mgmt
Parag Pande
Blackstone Group
Agata Praczuk
Max Saffian
Fortress Investment Group
Matt Satnick
MSD Partners
Eric Singer
Viex Capital Advisors
Katina Stefanova
Marto Capital
Reginald Tucker
New York State Common Retirement Fund
Michael Wang
Cypress Funds
Sean Wygovsky
Polar Asset Mgmt Partners

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