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Citadel’s Ken Griffin Will Start Sharing CIO Responsibilities

Quant leader James Yeh has been promoted to president and co-chief investment officer at the hedge fund firm, effective January 1.

Ken Griffin’s hedge fund firm Citadel will have two chief investment officers starting next year.

Griffin, the founder and CEO, will split the CIO job with James Yeh, who has also been named president of the firm effective January 1, according to a Wednesday statement from Citadel. Yeh, who first joined Citadel in 1993, has most recently served as the Chicago-based firm’s head of global quantitative strategies.

“James has been a phenomenal contributor to Citadel’s success for nearly three decades,” Griffin said in a statement. “He is recognized across the industry as a brilliant entrepreneur who has successfully woven together the art of investing and the science of quantitative research and systems engineering. Much of our success can be attributed to James’ efforts.”

With $32 billion under management, Citadel currently ranks as the third best-performing hedge fund of all time, having delivered net gains of $30.7 billion since inception as of 2018, according to fund-of-funds firm LCH Investments. More recently, the firm has been racking up double-digit gains in its multi-strategy funds, with its Wellington fund up 12.6 percent for the year as of May, and the Citadel Tactical Trading fund up 11.2 percent for the same period.

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According to the announcement, Yeh was one of Citadel’s first employees when he originally joined in the early 1990s. The Citadel statement describes Yeh as having been “instrumental” in building its statistical arbitrage business. In addition to leading the quantitative unit, Yeh has also led the hedge fund firm’s global equities business.

Yeh “retired” from Citadel in 2013 before returning to the firm in 2017, according to the statement.

The move to appoint Yeh as co-CIO comes as many hedge fund founders are grappling with whether, and how, to keep their firms going after they are gone. Bridgewater Associates, for example, has made several public changes to its upper management in recent years in an apparent attempt to solidify its succession plan.

Griffin, who founded Citadel in 1990 at the age of 22, is younger than many of his peers. Still, recent news reports suggest that Griffin has been thinking about the future of his firm. An October 12 report from the Wall Street Journal said Citadel held talks with Blackstone Group about the private equity firm potentially buying a stake in the hedge fund firm and the separate securities-trading business, Citadel Securities.

In the statement announcing his promotion, Yeh said he looked forward to his “continued partnership” with Griffin.

“I am proud to have had many opportunities to help grow Citadel from its early foundations to the business it is today,” he said.

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