Jim Simons is back on top.
For the fifth time in seven years, the 83-year-old founder of quant specialist Renaissance Technologies leads Institutional Investor’s Rich List, the definitive ranking of the highest-earning hedge fund managers.
Simons retook the throne after earning $3.4 billion in 2021, supplanting last year’s leader, Israel “Izzy” Englander. The Millennium Management founder had to settle for second place after he made “only” $3.1 billion in 2021.
Altogether, the 25 highest-earning hedge fund managers earned a combined $26.64 billion last year, the second-highest amount in the history of the Rich List, after only 2020’s record-setting haul.
Over the past two years, the members of the Rich List’s First Team have made more than $58 billion combined.
This year, one had to have earned $260 million just to qualify for the main list. (A Second Team of high earners who didn’t make the top 25 will be published in the coming weeks.)
Eight managers made at least $1 billion last year, with the median earner — Coatue Management’s Philippe Laffont — taking home $800 million despite his hedge fund’s having gained less than 6 percent in 2021.
Just two people qualify for the Rich List for the first time: Karthik Sarma of SRS Investment Management, who cashed in on an outsize stake in Avis Budget Group as its stock surged more than five times in price, and Richard Mashaal of Senvest Management, the top performer on the Rich List, with a better than 85 percent return.
Find out below who made the top ten, or click here for the complete Rich List.
The richest of the Rich List, Simons is the only hedge fund manager to qualify all 21 years since the ranking’s debut. This year, the math whiz tops the list for the fifth time in the past seven years. The 83-year-old’s best performer was once again the Medallion Fund, which is available only to insiders. It was up 48 percent last year. Simons’ three public funds, meanwhile, posted gains between 10.5 percent and 20.5 percent after suffering sharp losses in 2020. Renaissance now manages about $60 billion, after seeing outflows of about $15 billion since late 2020.
Fifty-two-year Wall Street veteran Englander slips to second place after topping the ranking last year. No need to shed tears: His multistrategy fund Millennium USA gained 13.6 percent (Millennium International performs more or less in line), placing it in the middle of that strategy’s pack. Today, 278 strategy teams manage the 33-year-old firm’s more than $53 billion in assets across four primary strategies: relative-value fundamental equity, equity arbitrage, fixed-income strategies, and quantitative strategies. The firm’s trading headcount also jumped 17 percent last year. By year-end, Millennium had returned $15 billion to investors in a share class that can redeem over the course of the year and raised $13.7 billion for a longer-lockup class.
Griffin bested his multistrategy rivals last year with a 26.26 percent gain, marking the third straight year that Citadel beat its 31-year annualized return of more than 19 percent. All five of the Wellington fund’s core strategies — equities, commodities, global fixed-income and macro, credit, and quantitative — were profitable. Last year, Citadel, which manages about $46 billion, made a $2 billion investment in Melvin Capital Management after the long-short fund suffered sharp losses in early 2021. The firm has since redeemed a large chunk of that investment. As for Griffin’s politics, the huge Republican donor said late last year that he wouldn’t support another Donald Trump candidacy.
Consistency is the word for the London-based activist, whose fund rose 23.3 percent last year — its sixth double-digit increase in the past seven years. As a result, TCI generated $9.5 billion in gains for investors in 2021 according to London-based LCH Investments. TCI’s fund currently manages about $44 billion, and the firm oversees $55 billion. Hohn runs a concentrated, long-only global portfolio of stocks: Out of just 13 U.S. long positions, six accounted for nearly 80 percent of the U.S. stock portfolio, including current activist target Canadian Pacific Railway. European infrastructure stocks not traded in the U.S. made up 20 percent of the fund’s book.
Tiger Global alum Sarma makes his Rich List debut at No. 5 after posting a 35 percent gain in his main hedge fund. The result was overwhelmingly driven by his longtime and outsize stake in car rental giant Avis Budget Group, which accounted for nearly half of his firm’s U.S.-listed stock portfolio at year-end. Avis’s stock, a big beneficiary of the economy’s reopening after the pandemic, swelled by about 5.5 times in 2021 alone.
Tepper seems better known these days as the owner of the Carolina Panthers pro football team than as the founder of Appaloosa, whose hedge fund was up in the mid-teens last year. Since most clients’ capital was returned several years ago, the bulk of the firm’s roughly $13 billion belongs to Tepper, who deploys an eclectic multistrategy-like approach. In late October, he was lukewarm on the market amid fears of rising interest rates. “I don’t think there’s any great asset class right now,” Tepper told CNBC. “I don’t love stocks. I don’t love bonds. I don’t love junk bonds.”
The Rich List’s other pro sports mogul — Cohen owns baseball’s New York Mets — the multistrat manager posted a modest 9.2 percent gain in 2021. But he’s still one of 2021’s top earners thanks to his enormous personal stake in the firm. Last year, alongside Citadel, Point72 invested $750 million in Melvin Capital after Melvin incurred big losses in early 2021. Point72 also made headlines for joining the rapidly growing number of hedge funds and Wall Streeters who moved to or opened offices in Florida. However, a majority of the firm’s IT workers are based in Warsaw, Poland.
The Tiger Grandcub ranks in the top ten thanks to his aggressive bets on private companies. Last year, D1 made at least 73 private investments, nearly triple the number in the previous year. Its share class that invests half its capital in private investments posted a 26.72 percent gain in 2021, and another class with private investments was up 16.1 percent. In contrast, the share class that does not include private companies was down 7.9 percent. Still, give Sundheim — an ex–Viking Global Investors CIO — a lot of credit for a big comeback: D1 was down 20 percent in January 2021, one of a number of hedge funds that was hit by the retail assault on popularly shorted stocks.
Activist Loeb seems to have sheathed his acerbic tongue lately — at least in public — but one thing hasn’t gone away: his knack for picking stocks. His Third Point Offshore fund was up 22.9 percent last year despite a 5.1 percent loss in the fourth quarter. Over the course of 2021, equities accounted for 21 percent of Third Point’s gross gains of 31 percent; its long bets kicked in 32.1 percent to gross gains. Loeb heavily benefited all year from several previously private investments that went sour late in 2021: Upstart Holdings, an online lending marketplace; cybersecurity company SentinelOne; and electric vehicle maker Rivian Automotive.
Saved at the last minute. The computer-driven macro giant’s Pure Alpha II gained 7.9 percent in 2021, after a 7.6 percent increase in the final month. In December, Bridgewater was long equities and commodities and short U.S. and U.K. fixed-income. Thanks to his huge amount of capital invested in the firm and the fees generated by Bridgewater’s roughly $150 billion in capital, Dalio was able to remain among the Rich List’s top-ten earners. Since its 1975 inception, Bridgewater has produced $52.2 billion in gains for its investors — more than any other firm, according to LCH Investments.