TRADER OF THE YEAR | The Shortlist Day 3

AT the top of the tree, trading is all about talent. There’s an abundance of it ?on our shortlist, added to a good deal of nerve and nous. Our top five between them manage billions and have made huge returns in choppy markets. Whatever is happening out there, you can make money. This lot prove it.

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JAMES BERGER, GLG

The youngest man on our shortlist at just 29, Berger started his career at JP Morgan and Goldman Sachs before joining GLG in 2005 to work on the European Opportunity Fund. A gross return of 15.5 per cent for 2008 brought him attention and won him fans in the City. With his friend and mentor Markus Mez, who he first worked with at Goldman, he is one half of “a star duo”, says a fund manager. One to watch.

PHILIPPE JABRE, JABRE CAPITAL PARTNERS

A record £750,000 FSA fine saw Jabre leave the City for Geneva in 2006, where he wasted no time setting up Jabre Capital Partners. He says that living in Lebanon during the civil war of the 70s helped him keep his cool during the financial crisis, and he made a killing by shorting HBOS. What a former colleague calls his “animal instincts” helped his flagship fund recover from a 36 per cent loss in 2008 to make an 85 per cent return in 2009.

CRISPIN ODEY, ODEY ASSET MANAGEMENT

“He’s absolute class, he called everything pretty right,” said one person who nominated Odey, and it’s hard to argue. He was one of the few to spot the weakness in the banking sector and his fund made £55.3m in 2007/8, with Odey himself taking half the profits. And then he saw the potential for growth in agricultural commodities and made another killing there. His judgment is so widely trusted that he now has a whopping £5bn under management.

MIKE PLATT, BLUECREST

He’s been called a “modern-day Medici” for his patronage of the arts – think crucified gorillas – but more telling is the description from a friend that he’s “a trader who puts his money where his mouth is”; Platt is famous for investing heavily in his own funds. And well he might. His flagship fund has performed every year since it launched in 2000, including a solid 2008, when it was up 6 per cent. It was up a truly impressive 41 per cent in 2009 and has continued to perform strongly so far in 2010. One of the biggest hedge fund characters.

ALAN HOWARD, BREVAN HOWARD

True, he has upped sticks and moved to Switzerland, but Alan Howard still makes our list for his phenomenal performance this year, when the fund that he co-founded in 2003 was up 19 per cent. It grew to become the fourth-biggest in the world, with $31bn (about £20bn) under management. A former Salomon Brothers bond trader and a keen supporter of the Conservative party, Howard’s personal wealth grew by 133 per cent over the year to £875m. Which makes him a dollar billionaire, and the 556th richest person in the world.