WHAT do a professional poker player, a former SAS soldier and actor Christopher Fox, otherwise known as DS Max Carter in The Bill, have in common?
They are the stand-out contestants in a Trading Places-style experiment to find the hedge fund stars of the future, which has attracted 8,000 applications from every walk of life: nannies, tube drivers, doctors and employees of every major UK bank.
The man behind the contest is Mike Baghdady, the managing director of Training Traders and winner of last year’s Frankfurt World Trading Championship, who is currently doing 200 interviews before narrowing the field to a final 20, using psychological tests to see if candidates have the “mindset for success”.
Baghdady is so confident of his rules for trading that once he has trained the 20 novices for six to eight weeks, he will let them loose on the stockmarket with £100,000 each of his own money. If they lose more than £50k they will be “terminated”, but if they make money, they will take up to 40 per cent of the profits and be given a job at the company.
“If the traders lose the money, it is my loss,” he said. “Their responsibility is to follow the rules of trading. The more they follow the rules, the more likely they are to succeed.”
However, the conventional wisdom of “buy low and sell high” is apparently “tantamount to suicide”. “That is why a lot of people lose money,” Baghdady instructed. “You should buy high and sell even higher.”
VERY GOOD CALLS
THE City is mourning the loss of Richard Crossley, technical strategist at Merchant Securities, who passed away at home in Spitalfields on Tuesday aged 62.
The popular chartist, author of the well-followed Mercantalyst daily commentary, may not have got to grips with text messages or ordering books from Amazon, nor was his usual attire of a cardigan and boat shoes what his City clients expected.
But he excelled at his chosen field: calling the top of the markets to develop a religious following among his contacts, who often read no other technical analysts.
Crossley warned against Marconi and Vodafone when fellow analysts were enthusing about both, gave some well-timed advice to investors in the run-up to the sub-prime mortgage meltdown, and predicted Wall Street’s imminent demise before the September 11 terrorist attacks by noticing the unusual volumes in airline stocks.
“He made some very, very good calls,” said John Coulson, head of sales at Merchant Securities, who worked with Crossley for the last five years. “All his clients loved his wonderful charts and he built up an amazing following. He will be a hard act to follow.”
Crossley’s family will announce the funeral arrangements in due course.
THE Twitter madness continues, as brothers Paul and Simon Hawtin of Derwent Capital have had to delay the launch of their Twitter-based hedge fund following overwhelming interest from investors.
Last month, The Capitalist revealed how the fund will be the first in the world to use “sentiment threads” on Twitter to predict movements in the Dow Jones Industrial Average, and the scheme has since attracted investment from high net worth and ultra high net worth individuals and “well-known family offices”.
“From the institutional side, we have had significant interest from fund of funds and small private banks who have the flexibility to invest in a start-up,” Paul Hawtin confirmed.
The brothers are unwilling to quote specifics prior to the venture’s official launch later this month – but Paul Hawtin indicates investment for the open-ended Cayman island fund is already “well above” the launch target of £25m.
LOSING his job at the start of the banking crisis was the best thing that ever happened to former BNP Paribas trader James Sleater, who used his severance package to start City suitmaker Cad & the Dandy.
Sleater founded the company two years ago with Ian Meiers, a redundant investment banker from Barclays Capital, and the pair are on course to turn over £1.5m this year as the UK’s largest bespoke tailor, with shops in Savile Row, the City and Canary Wharf.
“Both Ian and I are very happy with the series of events,” said Sleater, who plans to expand worldwide at the end of 2011, starting with New York. “It’s fundamentally important to enjoy what you do in life, and we both like the tailoring business much more than our banking jobs. I hated having to get out of bed every day knowing I had to head into the office.”