Inside $8.3 billion Balyasny’s Anthem training program, where aspiring portfolio managers are handed hundreds of millions of dollars to prove they can cut it

Bill Wappler

Summary List Placement

At Dmitry Balyasny’s $8.3 billion hedge-fund manager, ambitious senior analysts from both within the firm and outside it have had a clear path to becoming a portfolio manager: the four-year-old Anthem program.

Run by Bill Wappler, the program — named after an Ayn Rand book — can run for anywhere from 12 months to two years. Only a select few participants have made the cut so far. 

Just 10 people have graduated from the program since its first cohort of analysts in 2016; a total of 37 have entered, and 17 remain in the program, while 10 have left the Chicago-based firm altogether.

“They join the program for usually one reason: They aspire to have their own portfolio,” said Wappler, the director of research for the firm who leads the Anthem program. He formerly worked for billionaire Steve Cohen’s SAC Capital as associate director of research, handling analyst training and development. 

Wappler sees the program as a success, having produced multiple graduates who are managing hundreds of millions in assets for the firm. What’s more, each year since it started training analysts four years ago, the program has inducted progressively larger numbers of enrollees.

At the same time, Balyasny’s performance in its flagship fund has outpaced its multi-strategy rivals through the first seven months of the year, recording 20.5% according to Bloomberg.

Current PMs-in-training are based in locations around the world, from Hong Kong to London to the US. Wappler walked Business Insider through how candidates are selected, how the firm eases them into running their own money, and what determines who ultimately makes the cut. 

Learning to trust

The biggest thing to teach a senior analyst is not how to invest, but how to trust.

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Every person who enters the Anthem program is a successful investor in their own right, Wappler said, and the firm looks for candidates with at least six to seven years of buy-side experience. But the biggest change in becoming a portfolio manager is managing people, not money.

Senior analysts are known for checking every figure and being airtight on their findings. When in charge of a team, those same people have to give others responsibility they once handled themselves.

See more: The head of professional development at Steve Cohen’s Point72 lays out how to climb from fresh college grad to portfolio manager at the $16.3 billion hedge fund firm

“You have to help these people learn to trust their analysts,” Wappler said.

“The difference between a portfolio manager with a smaller portfolio, say $200 million, and one analyst, and a portfolio manager who has a portfolio of $1 billion and a team of five is typically not their investment skillset or their research process. The difference between those two people — they’re both good investors, they’re both good at research — the difference between those two people is their ability to manage the team, and to scale, and to efficiently leverage the people working from you.”

It’s a tale that can be applied to most any industry — a boss who is micromanaging, and untrustworthy …read more

Source:: Business Insider


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