Chris Rokos, the former Brevan Howard star trader, is in the process of launching his own hedge fund – and he’s been hiring. Unlike most start-ups, Rokos’ family office has a healthy headcount, and many employees have arrived in the past few months. This is what they suggest about what it takes to impress.
An obvious one, and perhaps something of a niche requirement, Rokos has been tapping his former employer for talent. As was widely reported, Borislav Vladimirov, a former Brevan Howard colleague, has joined Rokos from Graticule Asset Management Asia.
However, other Brevan Howard alumni have come on board. Senior quantitative analyst Rob Buckle worked at Brevan in 2008-2009, senior investment controller Gareth Cullick was deputy head of fund accounting there and the head of middle office – Nat Collins – was head of execution at a Brevan Howard joint venture.
While there’s a shortage of portfolio managers within the Rokos Family Office, there’s a high number of quants. Leading the team – as of this month – is Vladimir Piterbarg, head of quantitative analytics. He joined from Barclays, where he held the same position, and had been a managing director at the bank since March 2005. Before this he was co-head of quantitative analytics at Bank of America Merrill Lynch.
Also on the payroll in the quant team is Sylvestre Equy, a former algo trading developer at Credit Suisse, Daniel Kövi, who was a market risk quant at J.P. Morgan, John Quan from RBS, and Cassio Neri, a maths PhD who was latterly at Lloyds Banking Group in an FX quant role.
Aside from new employees who previously worked at Brevan Howard, most recruits have come from the sell-side. As well Piterbarg and the quant recruits mentioned above, Rokos has also hired Nick Howard – previously head of sales for Barclays EMEA investment bank – as chief risk officer. This is the latest in a series of alternative career moves for Howard, who started out as a prop trader for J.P. Morgan, moved to Salomon Brothers as a portfolio manager and then to Barclays in 1998.
Rokos has spent a lot of time bringing in quant developers, software developers and infrastructure professionals and there appear to be more techie staff than revenue generators right now. Key skills are C# and C++, suggesting that Rokos is building up its trading platforms before launch.