A Brief History of Man AHL, Winton & Aspect

It’s hard to believe, but three of the biggest managed futures programs in the world, Man AHL, Winton, and Aspect Capital; all trace their roots back to three 20 something Brits at Oxford and Cambridge in the 80’s.

According to a few great Institutional Investor  articles,  it all started at a London sugar brokerage named Brockham Securities where owner Cyril Adam charged his son, Michael with updating the commodities charts – a task he took to automating with computers, and that eventually turned into coding technical indicators. The work was plentiful, and Adam quickly brought on Oxford classmate (and computer programmer) Martin Leuck to assist. They then found Cambridge alum David Harding, who had done a stint on the trading floor of the LIFFE and gone on to work at a UK based CTA named Sabre Fund Mgmt.

David Harding

After Adam’s father fired Leuck and Harding while they were on vacation (after being at odds over their vision for the future of the brokerage), the trio left to launch their own CTA, named AHL for the first letter in each of their last names.

The story might have ended there, and we would be talking about AHL as the king of the managed futures mountain – but the performance of AHL caught the attention of another British company, Man Group; who had success owning 50% of a US trading company named Mint which also used systematic models, leading to a +20% net returns over a decade according to Institutional Investor.

Man set out to buy AHL in three stages between 1989 and 1994. As Lueck says, “They sort of hosed us down, dressed us up, and took on the distribution of the AHL strategy.”  That dressing up worked quite well, to the tune of over $25 Billion in assets on the AHL strategy at its peak (now down to $14 Billion).

Things started looking less than rosy shortly after the ink was dry on the final stage of the buyout, however; with the founders desired focus on lowering costs and increasing research reportedly at odds with Man’s transactional model and hesitation to spend money on R&D.

The conflicts came to a head in 1994 around the time of Man’s public stock offering, and by 1996 the three names behind AHL were gone, with Harding moving on to setup Winton Capital and Leuck founding Aspect Capital, both in 1997. As for Adam, he went on to join a band and perform under the name Mike Marlin (how’s that for random).

Fast forward to the present and David Harding is now even more of a legend than he was during AHL, having surpassed his former employer in terms of assets under management on the way to becoming the world’s largest managed futures program with over $24 Billion in AUM (down a few billion from their peak, though).

And Lueck and Aspect Capital aren’t doing too shabby either, currently among the very top of the managed futures world with over $5 Billion under management.

Now, we don’t necessarily think being that big is a good thing for any but the very largest of investors ($50 million and up) looking for very low volatility (and thus lowered returns), and we’ve written before about ‘Second Guessing the Wintons of the World,’ but we can’t help but think of the reunions when these three get together.

Two of the richest men in the UK and their former quant partner turned rocker – now that’s a party we want to be at one day.

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Disclaimer
The performance data displayed herein is compiled from various sources, including BarclayHedge, RCM's own estimates of performance based on account managed by advisors on its books, and reports directly from the advisors. These performance figures should not be relied on independent of the individual advisor's disclosure document, which has important information regarding the method of calculation used, whether or not the performance includes proprietary results, and other important footnotes on the advisor's track record.

Benchmark index performance is for the constituents of that index only, and does not represent the entire universe of possible investments within that asset class. And further, that there can be limitations and biases to indices such as survivorship, self reporting, and instant history.

Managed futures accounts can subject to substantial charges for management and advisory fees. The numbers within this website include all such fees, but it may be necessary for those accounts that are subject to these charges to make substantial trading profits in the future to avoid depletion or exhaustion of their assets.

Investors interested in investing with a managed futures program (excepting those programs which are offered exclusively to qualified eligible persons as that term is defined by CFTC regulation 4.7) will be required to receive and sign off on a disclosure document in compliance with certain CFT rules The disclosure documents contains a complete description of the principal risk factors and each fee to be charged to your account by the CTA, as well as the composite performance of accounts under the CTA's management over at least the most recent five years. Investor interested in investing in any of the programs on this website are urged to carefully read these disclosure documents, including, but not limited to the performance information, before investing in any such programs.

Those investors who are qualified eligible persons as that term is defined by CFTC regulation 4.7 and interested in investing in a program exempt from having to provide a disclosure document and considered by the regulations to be sophisticated enough to understand the risks and be able to interpret the accuracy and completeness of any performance information on their own.

RCM receives a portion of the commodity brokerage commissions you pay in connection with your futures trading and/or a portion of the interest income (if any) earned on an account's assets. The listed manager may also pay RCM a portion of the fees they receive from accounts introduced to them by RCM.

See the full terms of use and risk disclaimer here.

Disclaimer
The performance data displayed herein is compiled from various sources, including BarclayHedge, RCM's own estimates of performance based on account managed by advisors on its books, and reports directly from the advisors. These performance figures should not be relied on independent of the individual advisor's disclosure document, which has important information regarding the method of calculation used, whether or not the performance includes proprietary results, and other important footnotes on the advisor's track record.

Benchmark index performance is for the constituents of that index only, and does not represent the entire universe of possible investments within that asset class. And further, that there can be limitations and biases to indices such as survivorship, self reporting, and instant history.

Managed futures accounts can subject to substantial charges for management and advisory fees. The numbers within this website include all such fees, but it may be necessary for those accounts that are subject to these charges to make substantial trading profits in the future to avoid depletion or exhaustion of their assets.

Investors interested in investing with a managed futures program (excepting those programs which are offered exclusively to qualified eligible persons as that term is defined by CFTC regulation 4.7) will be required to receive and sign off on a disclosure document in compliance with certain CFT rules The disclosure documents contains a complete description of the principal risk factors and each fee to be charged to your account by the CTA, as well as the composite performance of accounts under the CTA's management over at least the most recent five years. Investor interested in investing in any of the programs on this website are urged to carefully read these disclosure documents, including, but not limited to the performance information, before investing in any such programs.

Those investors who are qualified eligible persons as that term is defined by CFTC regulation 4.7 and interested in investing in a program exempt from having to provide a disclosure document and considered by the regulations to be sophisticated enough to understand the risks and be able to interpret the accuracy and completeness of any performance information on their own.

RCM receives a portion of the commodity brokerage commissions you pay in connection with your futures trading and/or a portion of the interest income (if any) earned on an account's assets. The listed manager may also pay RCM a portion of the fees they receive from accounts introduced to them by RCM.

See the full terms of use and risk disclaimer here.