Profile of hedge-fund big hitters

Anyone looking for a holiday read could do a lot worse than Maneet Ahuja's fascinating study of the world's most successful hedge fund managers, says Matthew Partridge.


It's not a great time to be a hedge fund manager. Last year was the "second-worst year for hedge funds on record", says the FT. Faced with a combination of falling markets, accusations of overcharging and a regulatory crackdown, many big funds have shut up shop. However, although the sector has its fair share of charlatans, it has also attracted some of the globe's most successful investors. It's the latter that interest Maneet Ahuja.

Her book, due to be published next month, looks at 11 hedge fund managers. Rather than just focusing on the well-known stars such as Henry Paulson of Paulson & Co and Ray Dalio of Bridgewater Associates, who both feature Ahuja profiles managers who have quietly built big reputations.

As well as summarising their strategies, Ahuja details their careers, how they became money managers and tries to get their views on where the industry is headed. As a former Wall Street Journal reporter, and the current producer of CNBC's Squawk Box, she is clearly comfortable interviewing big hitters.

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As a result, she gets some decent insights on topics such as Paulson's poor performance last year and William Ackman's experience of being investigated by the now-disgraced former New York Governor Eliott Spitzer. As Business Insider says, "there's definitely something to be learned for investors on all levels or for those who are just curious to learn more about the industry".

The criticism I have is that, although the individual stories work well, the result is a book that feels like a collection of profiles without much of an overarching narrative. As David Merkel on puts it, "even a single chapter at the front or back would have enriched the book, making it more general and cohesive". The only attempt to link the chapters together comes in an afterword from Nobel prize-winning economist Myron Scholes. This is very interesting but far too short.

Overall, though, this is a well-written book about some of the more colourful figures in the world of high-stakes investing. Anyone looking for a decent holiday read could do a lot worse.

The Alpha Masters: Unlocking the Genius of the World's Top Hedge Funds, by Maneet Ahuja. Published in July by John Wiley & Sons, £19.99.

Dr Matthew Partridge

Matthew graduated from the University of Durham in 2004; he then gained an MSc, followed by a PhD at the London School of Economics.

He has previously written for a wide range of publications, including the Guardian and the Economist, and also helped to run a newsletter on terrorism. He has spent time at Lehman Brothers, Citigroup and the consultancy Lombard Street Research.

Matthew is the author of Superinvestors: Lessons from the greatest investors in history, published by Harriman House, which has been translated into several languages. His second book, Investing Explained: The Accessible Guide to Building an Investment Portfolio, is published by Kogan Page.

As senior writer, he writes the shares and politics & economics pages, as well as weekly Blowing It and Great Frauds in History columns He also writes a fortnightly reviews page and trading tips, as well as regular cover stories and multi-page investment focus features.

Follow Matthew on Twitter: @DrMatthewPartri