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Money managers under the microscope

Written in the stars

March 24, 2009

It is not often that Reuters journalists carefully take down the words of an investor who regularly consults an astrologer, but then not every investor recorded a 32 percent increase in his portfolio in 2008.

As head of Eclectica Asset Management, Hugh Hendry cuts a figure not often seen in modern-day financial investing: a besuited Malcolm McLaren-esque counter-culture figure rather than a pointy-headed quant analyst.

starsblog

Hendry says he draws direct inspiration from hedge fund managers from yesteryear, making money on the far fringes of the market, rather than today’s hedge fund professionals wedded to the big bastions of the financial industry.

“I have always identified with the spirit of the hedge funds of the 1970s. They were always these fascinating people who you wanted to hang out with, but always regretted not giving them more money,” Hendry said.

“But you couldn’t quite give them a lot of your money because they were too interesting, too edgy — that’s why you call it alternative,” he said.

A charismatic figure, his astrologer thinks he will be the prophet of the next century, but then, says Hendry, that is because his astrologer is mad.

Certainly his views are controversial — hedge funds that lock in investors are “evil”, he reckons — but Hendry says his approach is to be playful, so as to better keep his ideas fresh in a “mad world”.

And maybe he’s right to speak with that astrologer. Hendry is a Pisces, you see, the star sign symbolised by two fishes swimming in opposite directions.

According to Psychicsconnect.com, if you are born under the sign of Pisces: “You are pulled many ways by the currents of life and it can be a struggle for you to swim upstream. However if you do, your intuition can take you far.”rtxd5na

Hendry’s intuition has brought him hundreds of millions in assets under management, but his unusual alternative approach did not stop many investors joining the industry-wide redemption rout, pulling out funds last year because they were unwilling to stick with his gut.

“We made the mistake of making money last year, and for that we brought on their wrath,” said Hendry with a smile.

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