As investors and traders, we all strive for success in the markets. But what sets the best apart from the rest? According to Kapil Rastogi, the President and co-founder of PlusPlus Capital Management, it’s all about having the right culture. Ranking among the best in the industry in RCM’s semi-annual rankings report for best risk control certainly doesn’t hurt either.
In this episode of The Derivative, Kapil shares his insights on a range of topics, including his personal journey to becoming an investor and trader, how compensation structure and successful backtesting can be at odds, and his unique approach to a behavioral approach to trading. He also delves into the importance of culture versus strategy, why most investors are asking the wrong questions, and how to identify a firm with the right culture. With a focus on the two components of success, strategy, and culture, Kapil highlights the significance of hiring the right people and fostering a positive culture.
Kapil and Jeff also discuss the concept of skew and how it affects risk, the importance of minimizing drawdown, and how the recent bond volatility has played out in the markets. Through his experience and expertise, Kapil offers valuable insights into what it takes to succeed in the world of risk control. Tune in to learn more about the conscientious culture behind risk control — SEND IT!
From the episode:
Check out PlusPlus Capital featured in our newly updated Semi-Annual Managed Futures Rankings whitepaper!
Look up Kapil on LinkedIn and visit pluspluscapital.com for more information on PlusPlus Capital Management
Check out the complete Transcript from this week’s podcast below:
The Conscientious Culture behind Risk Control with Kapil Rastogi of PlusPlus
Jeff Malec 00:07
Welcome to The Derivative by our RCM Alternatives, where we dive into what makes alternative investments go analyze the strategies of unique hedge fund managers and chat with interesting guests from across the investment world. Hello there, we did it somehow the rankings white paper, I’ve been teasing about it on the pod here for the better part of six months, but we finally completed it is being released alongside this pod. Sort of my baby ranking methodology I came up with years ago, which tries to measure all the different aspects of a track record important to investors. Some investors look for the best return some for the best sharp others for the best more others just for the lowest drawdown, we show Best Buy all those and then combine them into an overall ranking. So it’s kind of fun, it’s kind of interesting to jump over to our cmos.com/rankings to download the rankings. After you do that, go subscribe to the pod if you haven’t already, because we have macro Alpha coming on next week to dish on the banking crisis inverted yield curve, if the Fed is trapped, and all the macro nonsense you could want, it’s going to be fun. Okay, that brings us to today’s episode where we have compiled Hristo gi A plus plus capital, which happens to be in our best buy risk control listing and the white paper we mentioned, which we’re going to be doing over the next couple of weeks here of trying to get as many of those top rank managers on as possible. I wasn’t quite ready for him to say the secret sauce is culture, but that’s where we went. He’s also got some quant stuff in there that helps with that risk control. But it was an interesting chat. Couple also talks through the pitfalls of back testing and overfitting why he chose behavioral based signals over trend, what questions investors should be asking, but don’t send it. All right, everybody, we’ve got Kapitel. And I’m not going to try and pronounce his last name. I’m gonna let him do it for us. How do I say your last name? resto de resto game just like it’s about easy? No. So Capelle is here with us. I think you’re in Princeton, New Jersey. Right? That’s correct. Has everyone all pumped up over the two wins in the attorney?
Kapil Rastogi 02:14
Oh, absolutely. That’s huge. Let’s, let’s let’s pray. They can keep it keep it going. Right?
Jeff Malec 02:20
Right. I can’t remember who they have next round. But that’s it’s not a huge scene, right, but could keep going. Let’s hope, let’s hope. And later on, I think you’ve got some parallels with sports in your investment style. So we’ll get into that in a bit. But we’ve had Roy Niederhoffer here on the pod dish and some gems and so used to work with Roy and at Niederhoffer. Right. So give us a little bit of a background, how you got into there. When, when and why you left and what you’re doing now. Yeah,
Kapil Rastogi 02:51
definitely. So my background. So I graduated from MIT in 2002. And with a degree in math with computer science. I, after that, I started working at Merrill Lynch investment management, out in Princeton. Right. That’s where the world headquarters were back in 2002. Before they merged with BlackRock, I quickly realized that risk management, it was a great place, but I had a real passion for markets. I wasn’t really getting any market exposure. So I started interviewing with different hedge funds, and I got a job at Rice firm, wonderful place to work, that’s for sure. You know, I started kind of at the bottom of the totem pole, being a European execution trader. So right, the very bottom, so my hours, my glorious hours, were 1am to usually leave it around 1pm or 2pm. Eastern Standard Time. So yeah, I mean, you know, and I did it because look, it was, it was a, it was an opportunity, you know, and I knew this is what I wanted, in the long run.
Jeff Malec 03:57
And myself, quick sidenote, Mike Harris of now at Qwest and formerly president of Campbell and president of the MFA, started as a European desk guy. So for all you young listeners out there who want to get into the industry, go beg and plead at a hedge fund to say you’ll work the overnight hours.
Kapil Rastogi 04:13
Absolutely, absolutely. I look, I think was a wonderful experience. You know, obviously, not great for my social life. But hey, you know, it’s, you know, one thing I talk about a lot is like, you know, if you want something badly enough, you’re gonna have to you have to sacrifice a lot to achieve it. Right? There’s, that’s a universal rule of life. So, yeah.
Jeff Malec 04:33
Were you up there in Vermont, or New Hampshire or wherever it is? No, he was in the city at the time. He was in Manhattan. Got it. Okay. Yeah.
Kapil Rastogi 04:41
So I did that for about two years. And then I came back from New York shift. And kind of, you know, interesting anecdote is, you know, for the first two years, Jeff, I started trying to develop strategies and like pretty much every strategy I tested failed miserably. because it’s a colossal failure. And the one thing I tell you, I do guest speaking to different universities, including, for instance, in my neck of the woods. And one thing I tell people, you know, a lot of young individuals that want to break into our field is, look for the first two years of almost every strategy I back tested didn’t work. And when I finally did get one that worked with statistical significance, we put into live trading. And it did. And, you know, what happened is that it just lost money, lost money and lost money.
Jeff Malec 05:34
Yeah, I was gonna say the back testing is the easy part. The live trading is even the harder part. But you got it. So you were even struggling in the beginning on the on the back testing part?
Kapil Rastogi 05:43
Oh, absolutely. I mean, and finally, when I got the back test to work, the live training part, hey, you know, I can’t tell you what it feels like to just kind of watch your restaurant and you just kind of bleed money and live training
Jeff Malec 05:55
Kapil Rastogi 05:56
And so, you know, again, it all boils down to perseverance, right? I mean, I got I’ve done. I don’t know how many back tests in my career. Definitely, you know, 10s, if not hundreds of 1000s. But I think, you know, after a few 1000 back tests, I think it slowly starts clicking as to kind of like, you know, what works in the back test, and what will actually work in the live trading, and how to normalize those to look that just comes through just sheer perseverance and willpower, and just saying, hey, look, I’m not going to give up. Because there’s no book to teach you how to do this, that’s for sure. There’s no training, really. You just have to kind of like, you know, grind it out. And I played competitive sports my whole life. So I’m kind of had that mentality. So I just kind of went after and ultimately, yeah, I mean, the first couple of years. It was really tough. You know, definitely probably the most difficult years of my life, to say the least.
Jeff Malec 06:56
And while you’re sitting at Niederhoffer doing these were they like, we got to fire this guy. He can’t even make a good back test.
Kapil Rastogi 07:03
No, nothing like that. And you didn’t know he wasn’t he wasn’t really like that ever. You know, he gives people he gives people space. I was very young. So it’s nothing like
Jeff Malec 07:13
and what sports were you playing?
Kapil Rastogi 07:16
In college? I was on the rowing team. College rower in high school. I played a variety sports. I played soccer. I played volleyball, right there on the Charles River.
Jeff Malec 07:23
Yes. At what is the big event? They had the Regatta? How did the Charles head of the Charles never been? That’s it seems like a good time.
Kapil Rastogi 07:34
Oh, you gotta check it out. I mean, all right. Yeah. Yeah, rolling is a great sport, it does teach you just grit. Conversely, the only people that do it are a little bit masochistic. But also, you know, really, you just have to push through the pain. And so that analogy worked well in the hedge fund space, because again, it comes back testing. Look, you just have to kind of just, you know, keep trying things over and over and over and over again. And eventually you’ll kind of figure out okay, well, oh, this is what actually works in live trading. Right.
Jeff Malec 08:09
So and, yeah, just okay. So then you’re, you’re at Niederhoffer and you decide somewhere along the way to go off on your own?
Kapil Rastogi 08:17
Yes. So the way that worked out, Jeff was, you know, in, you know, in around 2006, I met my now partner, Murat and Lord, so he was the head of software development, I was kind of building a whole bunch of quant strategies. And slowly and slowly, more and more of the portfolio was being kind of allocated to the quant strategies developed. And, you know, I still remember from the I started kind of doing more marketing, just because I knew the market models pretty well. So I started kind of getting roped into marketing a little bit. And for the first time, I saw a peer group analysis
Jeff Malec 08:56
of So you mean, talking to investors, basically? Yeah.
Kapil Rastogi 08:58
Well, I wasn’t really talking to investors too much. But I was doing some analysis behind the scenes, right, like helping the marketing team, look at correlations. How are we different screen examples? Right? That’s a big thing. You know, for the first time ever, I was trying to do some marketing, which I had never done before. Right. I was just really trying to focus on building strategies with the highest risk adjusted return possible. So the first time I looked at our peer group, I had no idea who these people, these firms even were, right, we’re talking about household names that were credible, for example, I remember looking at the risk adjusted returns. And the first thing I said to myself was, you know, what, if we if I went out on my own, I knew I know that I could produce a higher risk adjusted return than what I see. I knew it’d be a long process. I knew it’d be a struggle. But I knew that that was the first thing that popped out to me. Now, the second thing that popped out at me was wow, what we’re doing, which is behavioral biases. It’s different. There was one are two other firms who are doing something kind of similar? A little bit, but not really, you know? And so I said to myself, Okay, well, you know, what if I could go on my own and do things, which I believe to be, you know, the right or optimal way of doing things, and everyone has their own perspective on this right, but how to build a business, I said to myself, look, I firmly believe that we can be the best in the world, you can be the best CTA out there. And I still firmly believe that, you know, obviously, the results are the results.
Jeff Malec 10:30
Right? You can’t go You can’t go for it without believing that right. Yeah. And so
Kapil Rastogi 10:35
that’s where it really started. So I had a talk with my business partner, we’re kind of a happy hour. And, you know, I saw that he had a similar kind of vision as I did, which is really to be the best at what we do, right? I mean, that’s really what it boils down to. Having that mindset of, okay, well, we want to be number one. And that’s our definition of success. No, everyone defines success differently. Right? For me, on our firm a success means being number one, number one, meaning having the highest risk adjusted return in the space.
Jeff Malec 11:12
Getting into this with Marty Bergen, last week of like, is a lot of trend fathers, their track records are so long that all their warts are there for the world to see. So almost by definition, they’re gonna have lower risk adjusted returns than the newer flavors of hedge fund or even in their own strategy. So a little bit of his just time and the window that you’re looking at. But I think you would fail. Even if you had been around longer in those years, you’re saying like, No, I the way we do it would produce a better risk adjusted return.
Kapil Rastogi 11:41
Yeah, I mean, look, Jeff, you bring up a valid point, right? I mean, obviously, look, you have to have a sufficient time period to evaluate a track record right. Now, in our case, our track record is five years, right? So if you look at our five year track record, right, with the model, we have called plus plus global Alpha. I’m very proud to say that, you know, what we set out to achieve, which is the strongest risk risk adjusted return in the CTA space, we’ve accomplished. So we have the highest Sortino ratio of all CTAs in the sock Jen CTA, and Saatchi and STTR in indices, right. So what we set out to achieve way back in 2007, that vision that we had, thus far, I’m very proud to say, has come to fruition, right. Um, and it’s been quite a journey. You know, we, my partner, and I, we spent several years building our own back testing platform, right? easily put in over 10,000 hours, just in the back testing platform alone. People always ask me, Well, why do you spend so long, you know, building a back testing platform, you can purchase one off the shelf? You know, what’s so special about your back testing platform? You know, one thing I tell people is like, look, I mean, at the end of the day, you know, we’re running a business, right. And so in a business, you have to have a competitive advantage. Moreover, you have to have a long term sustainable competitive advantage, if you want to be the best at what you do. And so one thing I quickly realized is that in the quant trading space, or systematic space, you can have the most brilliant idea in the entire world. But you know what, Jeff, if you can’t back test that brilliant idea, it is totally useless.
Jeff Malec 13:27
All right, would even correct it for a little bit. If you can’t realistically back test it.
Kapil Rastogi 13:31
Exactly. That’s it? Well, that’s what I was gonna say. Yeah, reality the world is if it’s not, if you can’t back test that idea quickly. It is effectively garbage. Right. So, you know, building your own that lock back testing structure from scratch, which allows you to back test ideas very quickly, which other people can test quickly. That’s definitely a massive competitive advantage, which is sustainable. Right? Yeah. And this is where the business cultural comes in, in the sense that, you know, if it takes me several years to back test an idea, which I think is really good, I’m going to do it. But if you’re at, let’s say, a really large, firm, um, you know, where the incentives are just a little bit different, right. I mean, you have you have your urine bonus. Right. I mean, you’re not really, you know, going to pursue an idea, which only produces results after years.
Jeff Malec 14:29
Of our US political system, right. Yeah. Right. I mean, no one wants to plant trees. They just want to harvest them right now.
Kapil Rastogi 14:38
Right. I mean, and also what’s, what’s the compensation structure, right. I mean, you’re getting paid based on the respective results you generate, to some extent, right, you’re not getting paid just to kind of like to back testing,
Jeff Malec 14:50
right. But it the same is true for you, right, as a business, you can’t get paid to sit there and bet test and not produce any results for five years. You’d go out of business, you’d have no clients.
Kapil Rastogi 14:59
Oh, absolutely. And that’s the reason why very early on, you know, this is way back from like 2010 to 2012, we spent several years kind of building our back testing structured structure. Knowing that look, this is going to give us a real sustainable,
Jeff Malec 15:15
like before you had client assets or in conjunction with your launch, essentially.
Kapil Rastogi 15:20
Yeah, before we had real client assets is when we kind of really sat down and kind of just just code it six days a week.
Jeff Malec 15:27
And what’s that look like? So in my mind, when I hear that I’m like, Oh, you’re doing higher frequency stuff that needs to be done really quickly. And that loses its edge over time, when kind of, I would argue more traditional managed futures, is kind of like, hey, it’s a core piece of the market that works. trend following works kind of regardless of what you put it on, maybe not on a risk adjusted basis. But on a pure what you’re looking for it works, quote unquote. So I don’t necessarily need to back test it quickly. So explain those two pieces of like, why does it have to happen quickly?
Kapil Rastogi 16:02
Why did the back testing happen? How to occur quickly?
Jeff Malec 16:06
Yeah. It seems like you’re saying like, because you’ll lose your edge. Right? And once it’s, if you don’t get in there quickly, other people will find it, and you won’t have the edge anymore?
Kapil Rastogi 16:15
Um, not so much, really, I mean, the inefficiency that we recognize in our portfolio, they last for quite a while. But the reason why Jeff, they last for quite a while is because they’re difficult to find. Yeah, right. So there has to be a barrier to entry, right? Which is high enough that it’s very difficult for people to get in. So when it comes to a lot of the behavioral inefficiencies which we implement in our portfolio, they’re very difficult to find, first of all, because, you know, behavioral biases in the markets are inefficiencies. You know, there’s people like Daniel Kahneman, who have done great work on it. But the reality is, like, in order to find a behavioral inefficiency, which you could exploit, you have to have been watching the markets for years, years upon years, and like, you know, if you watch it for long enough, you develop good intuition, just like in any other field, right? Have you done 1000 surgeries to your, you know, experience leads to better judgment and better intuition. So in our space, in my case, again, as I said, like, you know, I was a quant, you know, but for the first couple of years, I mean, all the strategies I tested, nothing worked, right. And it’s only after 10s, maybe hundreds of 1000s of back tests that I really kind of get in the rhythm of kind of finding strategies that work in the back test, and most importantly, also make money in live trading. And then furthermore, being able to take a multiplier and say, hey, look, you know, what, if my back test has a risk adjusted return, X, I know that live trading, it’ll produce, you know, point seven 5x. Right, that just takes a considerable amount of time.
Jeff Malec 17:57
I guess my question is, you could have, in theory, come up with a very simple trend following model that work right, you write your first backtest, using an 80 day look back and a two standard deviation breakout model would, quote unquote, work in the back test. Right? Right. Especially if you add more markets and look back further. So what drove you to be like, Hey, I don’t want to go down that more simple model, like basic, I want to do these more complex behavioral models. And we might have buried the lede a little bit of like, if we back up and say, What is plus plus doing at the top, you know, top down looking down level with these behavioral biases. So I don’t know if there’s a question in there. But you know, you know what I’m saying, give us the top down view, so we can level set and then let’s dig into why did you choose to go that path instead of the more simple path? Yeah, definitely.
Kapil Rastogi 18:41
So look, the name plus plus, right? That really signifies kind of our, everything we do the first plus have the strongest risk adjusted return the space, that’s the first plus. And we came up with that name, Jack before we started trading. Right? So you can see our objective our vision or vision statement, it’s embedded in our name, right? So two pluses, first, plus strongest risk adjusted return in the space, second plus low correlation with everyone else in our space, and obviously, all the major indices. Right. So that’s our value proposition. That’s what we do. That’s our competitive advantage. And that’s the value to an investor. Now to answer your question very succinctly, what if I just did a simple trend following model, we would not honor the first plus, which is being the best at what we do. Right? And that’s kind of, it’s a reflection of kind of who we are as people, right? Trading, to a large extent has to be a reflection of kind of who you are, right? Because you can’t trade some asset with a style you’re not comfortable with. For me. From day one, we were always about kind of being the best. So if you want to be the best, then you have to be different from everyone else just by definition I’m hence the reason why we built our own infrastructure, which took us so long to build. And we continue to add on. And secondly, the behavioral approach, it really is different. That’s for sure. And I’m a firm believer that will continue to be different. Even as more quants enter the space, because, you know, you just you really need just many, many, many years of watching markets before you can really come up with a really good or short term strategy. But he’s based on behavioral biases.
Jeff Malec 20:31
And so what bucket would you put yourself in? Are you probably going to say I’m outside of the categorization of the buckets. But if you were forced to short term trader trend, follower, pure absolute return, no correlation, any of those buckets?
Kapil Rastogi 20:46
Well, I would say if I had to classify ourselves into one of the three, which I guess you’re forcing me to classify myself, we would put, I would put myself in a short term bucket. Why? Because our average holding length is four and a half days. So clearly, we’re short term.
Jeff Malec 21:01
Yeah. But in you do, you do exhibit some correlation to manage futures as a whole and trend following correct?
Kapil Rastogi 21:08
We do I mean, our correlation to, for example, the stock xs TTI. Index is a little bit over point two, as to whether you consider that material or
Jeff Malec 21:18
not. That’s a whole other part. Right here.
Kapil Rastogi 21:22
Our correlation and trend following is zero. correlation with the s&p is slightly negative.
Jeff Malec 21:28
And then so can you give us a few examples of these behavioral trends? Without giving away the secret sauce? Yeah,
Kapil Rastogi 21:35
sure. Yeah. Can give us some examples? Yeah, we one of the things we definitely look at is we look at, you know, so I’ll give you one really good example I like to use is December 6 2019, right? The buy the dip trade and the s&p qualifies. Okay, by the dip trading in the markets going straight up, and then there’s a big dip. And then whoever bought the dip on that day, over the next four or five weeks, you would have made about a five or 6% return.
Jeff Malec 22:08
It became so good. It got called by the fucking Deborah BTSC not just BT BT D.
Kapil Rastogi 22:13
Yeah. So you know, December 6 2019. By the dip trading, s&p works fabulously well, and make over 5% in three weeks, right. About a less than a month later, the buy the dip trade again, qualifies, you know, if you put that trade on, again, you would have made about 5% In three weeks, right? Buy the dip trade again, you know, late February, right? 2020 Why buy the dip trade again? Or vice? Okay, let’s take a step back. Right. Your that investor job right, first time that a trade made a lot of money, right. Second by the trade? Not you made a lot of money. Third by their trade. What are you going to do? Right human nature?
Jeff Malec 22:55
You know, I’m an outlier. I would I’d start taking it off the table, but I know you’re going. Most people at the craps table. They’re pushing that six, right, like, okay, it just, but more on put more.
Kapil Rastogi 23:05
Exactly. You put more on now, imagine Jeff for a second. You’re that person. You know what? You missed the first by the train. You went to watch the market go straight up. And you miss a second by their trade?
Jeff Malec 23:18
Right? Definitely Miss both those. Right? And then
Kapil Rastogi 23:21
the third by the dip trade? What are you going to do?
Jeff Malec 23:24
Yeah, get in?
Kapil Rastogi 23:25
Let’s get it and not only would you get injured up, you will get in with some real sighs right? Cuz you’re gonna save yourself. Hey, you know what? I missed the first buy the dip trade. I missed a second bite of trade. Both those trades made a lot of money. There’s no way I’m missing a third by the dip trend. Right. So you’re gonna get in and you’re gonna get in with sighs Okay, so our models, for example, will sell that third dip. Right.
See that? Yeah.
Kapil Rastogi 23:54
So that’s, that’s an example of something that we do. Right. And so you take this phenomenon and codify it was set of rules
Jeff Malec 24:01
based on just because it’s the third are based on a whole bunch of other
Kapil Rastogi 24:06
bases is the third. Right. Right. I just want you to understand the behavioral thinking behind it. Right. So this is the concept, right? You have to codify a new set of rules that tested across all the markets that we trade. Now, I’m giving you an example in the s&p S. But look, we treat all the markets more or less the same, right? Why do these behavioral biases work one of these behavioral pieces his work is because because markets consist of people and people are predictably irrational. Right? That’s why it works. So we take a behavioral thesis like this, and we back tested across all the markets we trade, right? And then we look at how it does in aggregate across all markets. We say is it statistically significant? The answer is yes. That we test it out a sample is a statistically significant out of sample If the answer to that question is yes, then we just say to ourselves, hey, look, we have some real alpha here, right? So you can also see Jeff, how our approach naturally leads to uncorrelated returns. Because if you think about this strategy, you know, this idea I just mentioned, it’s not going to be correlated with trend following. Yeah. Right. Is it going to be correlated with s&p? No. If anything, I’ll be slightly negatively correlated, right? Because we know when the s&p goes down, well, it goes up.
Jeff Malec 25:31
Well, how do you avoid the trap of, hey, every third Thursday, the yen goes down. And is that just coincidental? Or is it right every March 17 of every year because it’s close to St. Patty’s Day something happens, right? Like, do you check it against fundamental anything? Or if it’s held statistical significance? It’s in the portfolio?
Kapil Rastogi 25:53
No, so. Okay, so what you’re referring to jump is how do we avoid overfitting? Yeah, great question. Okay. Okay. So the way we tackle that problem, is, we have a thesis and we test that thesis across all markets. Okay. So if you think about it, you know, using the example you use, buy again on March 17, because the St. Patty’s Day, that’s just again, so we would never trade that. Right. Now, if you’re saying that this is, hey, look, let’s buy all the currencies or all 62 markets on March 17, for the same 30 days. Great was back tested. I can already tell you, the results will look terrible. Yeah. All right, great. Now, you see how Jeff, you know, what you what you described is very common, like you have an idea, which just works on one market. Right? Why does it work on that one market? Why doesn’t it work on tap? Why does it work on Ozzy dollar? What’s so special about the yen? And the reality is, Jeff, there’s nothing special about the
Jeff Malec 26:56
tradable widgets. The end, so what does that portfolio look like? 20? Markets 50 markets 162 62. So in all the normal kind of managed futures, buckets, grains, energies?
Kapil Rastogi 27:09
Yep, the four sectors are fixed income, currencies, commodities, and equities.
Jeff Malec 27:14
Got it. And then I just jotted this down, let’s dive into it. Now, if you want, like, right, you keep saying intuition, you know, the 10,000 hours, we’ll all that stuff. Some would argue like, hey, we can shortcut that process with AI. Right? We can run this all through AI, we can get AI to identify these patterns much more quickly, much more. Whatever, like, just they’re going to end they can run many, many more in or iterations than you can do. What are your thoughts? Do you guys use that? Do you have thoughts on whether that’s good, bad, indifferent?
Kapil Rastogi 27:48
I mean, that’s a different approach altogether, it’s hard to say good or bad. I mean, look, good or bad is just dictated by the results. Right? I mean, he’ll look if you can generate great risk adjusted returns in live trading all the power to you. I just share with you my opinion. Um, you know, with AI is it’s a good tool, but it doesn’t replace intuition. There’s no way, right. I mean, look, if you give me a million different back tests, I mean, you know, just again, being a math person, right? Take a 1% confidence interval, right? There’s a certain percentage of them that will be significant, just purely due to chance. Yeah. Right.
Jeff Malec 28:29
But that’s what I’m saying. Like, why not tap into that and get like, Hey, we’ve got 50 More just due to chance that are now significant that we could put into the portfolio.
Kapil Rastogi 28:37
Yeah, I wouldn’t ever do that. But that is not our style. I mean, behind every strategy, there has to be a real clear thesis, which is based on intuition. So what I share with you, Jeff, about the third dip, yeah, there’s clear intuition behind that. That intuition. Look, it makes sense to me, don’t may not make sense to someone else. And that’s okay, too. Right. But that’s where the judgment and experience come in. You know, what happens with like, what you described is like, you’ll have all these different, statistically significant strategies. The thesis makes no sense to me. Right? So the thesis has to make sense to me, as a portfolio manager,
Jeff Malec 29:22
exam, don’t even have it. These are their complete blackbox AI and just shooting up signals, right?
Kapil Rastogi 29:27
Yeah, I mean, for me, that’s very dangerous.
Jeff Malec 29:30
I’ve told some of the guys like create, have the AI also produce a thesis, even if it’s totally unlinked from the actual signal. Like,
Kapil Rastogi 29:39
I mean, that’s where human beings come in, right, in terms of like pattern recognition and developing a thesis, right? I mean, if you can develop the thesis and then get the get the computer to basically test the thesis, you know, that’s something a computer is very good at. You’re asking the computer to like come up with a thesis. I don’t think that’s a wise idea at all. I’m Yeah,
Jeff Malec 30:00
we’re mainly a joke of like, Hey, you have trouble explaining this to investors have the AI just create an explanation. Right? Like, signals totally random and you can’t explain it. So why not just explain it away with some other totally random thing? That’s a little bit tongue in cheek. So talk about this. So this seems to tie in with like, we’re talking a little bit up screen of like, culture versus strategy, right? So yeah, anyone can create a strategy, you could use AI to create it, you could have experience in the bank and know what works yada, yada. So, talk to us about you mean about like, you have to have the culture. I kind of took it as infrastructure, but whatever what tell us what you mean by culture versus strategy?
Kapil Rastogi 30:47
Yeah, definitely. So this is a big part of what we do is, so I can share with you that there’s a management guru called Peter Drucker, and if you’ve heard of him, but he’s a very famous quote, which I like, which is, he says, culture Trump’s strategy in the long run, always. And then he has another quote, which he goes even further and he says, culture eats strategy for breakfast. Right? Very strong words. And he’s referring to just business in general. Okay. And this is something that having played competitive sports my whole life, it immediately resonates with me, like any competitive athlete, like you don’t have to tell them this. Right? The importance of culture. Look, if you look at all the best sports teams in the world, New York Yankees, New Zealand, All Blacks, right? Real Madrid, right? They have certain things in common number one is always culture. Always, always always. Okay, so how does culture how does this apply to our space? Right?
Jeff Malec 31:46
And just march madness, perfect. isn’t right, that cohesive team that believes in each other believes in the coach usually wins over the super talented team that is barely has a culture.
Kapil Rastogi 31:55
Yeah, I mean, look, you talk about basketball, right? 2004 Dream Team. Right? And if you remember the US Olympic basketball team, full of superstars, how can you lose? Guess what happened? First game that used to Puerto Rico by 19 points. Puerto Rico. Yeah. What stores are on that team? How does that happen? Well, culture, culture culture, right? It makes such a big difference in any business in any team endeavor. Now, so let’s talk about how it applies to all respects. Right, because everyone will agree that culture is important. The California management review, it’s a kind of a lesser known Business Review, which only kind of like geeks like me read it, I believe was 2002. They did a great study where they said, Okay, look what Silicon Valley firms make it in which ones don’t, Silicon Valley, like our space is hyper competitive. Right? So over 10 years, they tracked all these startups. And they said from day one, okay, we’re gonna divide all these firms into five cultures. Okay. Cult, culture. Number one is commitment, culture, commitment, culture. Number two, sorry, is star culture. Culture. Number three is bureaucratic culture. Culture. Number four is engineering culture. And then finally, autocratic culture. So let me quickly give you description, commit, what is commitment culture, American culture means, as a leader, you’re actually looking out for the long term interests of your employees. Okay. And most importantly, all the employees notice. Right? So again, you’re looking out for the long term interests of your employees, and your employees can see this. So in essence, you’re committed to their long term success.
Jeff Malec 33:41
Right, and preference to the shareholders or in conjunction with
Kapil Rastogi 33:46
in conjunction with guy okay, yeah, okay. Then there’s star culture. What is star culture? Star culture means, look, you produce something for me, and I pay you a lot of money to start culture that’s very prevalent on Wall Street on Silicon Valley. Culture. Number three bureaucratic culture doesn’t exist as much anymore. In my opinion, it’s basically look, we have job descriptions, project descriptions, and strong project management, culture, that engineering culture. Okay, we have an open atmosphere, basically free of any constraints. Have fun, right? Yeah. And then finally, autocratic culture, you come into work and you get paid. Now, interesting thing is Jeff, which culture do you think over the 10 years was the most successful? Like a global Silicon Valley firms startups? Right, they’re classified into one of these five categories from day 110 years later. The results were astounding. Which culture by and far do you think but cheap, best results?
Jeff Malec 34:48
Well, I’m gonna go commitment culture.
Kapil Rastogi 34:51
Yeah, exactly. No, not only to commitment culture succeed and get this in the hyper competitive world of Silicon Valley startups. Not a single startup failed, that employed commitment culture from day one over the 10 years that a single one of them failed. Which is, in my my mind, just astounding. Yeah, right. Now, what’s the parallel to the hedge fund space? Well, there’s many parallels. Right? So one thing I always talk to people about, as I say, Look, you know, superstar culture doesn’t achieve the greatest results. But you know, what, that’s what’s most common? Right? So look, there’s an inefficiency right away, right, there is, as an investor, you know, it’s all about asking the right questions, what could investing is all about is asking good questions. So if you can ascertain what kind of culture is prevalent at the hedge fund, will automatically, that’s a very valuable nugget of information, because we know that commitment culture produces the best long term results. So how do you know if if a firm has commitment culture, or superstar culture or engineering culture? So here’s some basic guidelines is look in hedge funds that have been in business for a long time. Question number one is, how many successful traders have you produced? How many of your traders have started their own hedge funds successfully on successfully? How many of your employees have gone on to be successful? Well, right. Now, if you think about it, if you’re the hedge fund hasn’t produced anyone that successfully created own hedge funds. Okay, that’s a red flag immediately. Why? Well, there’s only two possibilities, right? Why would a hedge fund over a long period of time not produce anyone that successfully went on to start their own hedge fund? There’s only two explanations, explanation one. There’s not many opportunities for growth within that firm, which results in all the employees at the firm just leaving? Yeah. Right. So in all my years in hedge funds, and I’ve worked at, you know, two multibillion dollar firms. Every single employee, I met my hedge funds, okay. One thing they all have in common, Jeff was all of them had an aspiration, a dream, to eventually start their own hedge fund. There is no employee at a hedge fund that goes into the hedge fund and says, Okay, I want to be an employee my whole life. That does not happen in the hedge fund space.
Jeff Malec 37:25
My even in the back office and girls like that, for sure.
Kapil Rastogi 37:29
You know, that’s a good point, I’m referring more to the research. Yeah, research training, you will never, I’ve never ever seen a single person who could walk who was in the research or trading group at a hedge fund, that does not have a dream to eventually start their own hedge fund. Right. So if nobody in a hedge fund has ever successfully started their own hedge fund, right, that’s a red flag, in my view. Why? Because there’s only two possibilities. Possibility one is, there’s not many opportunities for growth within that firm, meaning that like the leader is not providing enough opportunities for any opportunities at all, for people within the firm to eventually start their own fund. And if if people within the firm see that, hey, look, there’s zero possibility of me starting my own firm. If I stay here, that everyone’s eventually going to leave, it’s going to lead to high attrition. And business literature all says, this is just common sense, in my view, is that high attrition or a lot of people leaving eventually leads to results. And our firm that means big drawdowns.
Jeff Malec 38:38
Yeah, right. But yeah, alright, let’s go ahead. But it to me, it’s like how do you separate the strategy can be solid, right? It’s not necessarily going to lead to bad results.
Kapil Rastogi 38:50
That’s a good point. So there’s two components of success, right? There’s a strategy and there’s culture. Okay, when you’re evaluating once they have business, like a hedge fund, there’s two components, right? There’s strategy. And there’s culture, evaluating the strategy and evaluating the pros and cons and the approach or the strategy on that’s something that which you basically just write in a very primitive form. You’re asking me questions about the model building, asking me for an example. And that’s something that look, we’re all trained to do that. There’s training as an Investment Analyst, you know, and how do you evaluate a hedge fund strategy right. Now, culture, that’s much harder to evaluate, like, how do you evaluate the culture within that firm? And in my opinion, I think that’s really part of the secret sauce, right? Is to what hedge funds make it and which ones don’t make it? Right. It’s more than just a strategy. That’s for sure. We all know that. Right? But culture is a very critical long term component of success.
Jeff Malec 39:55
Yeah, but I guess I don’t why why is it more important, right. I guess they I would view the strategy could overcome any cultural issues, right that if you have a strong enough strategy, it’s going to produce returns, no matter. Say you have, right? A jerk at the top who just has the best strategy and he he’s winning. You have a bad team, but the strategy keeps producing results. So what’s that? Why of like, how does the culture leak into the strategy? Oh, a bad culture? Yeah,
Kapil Rastogi 40:22
yeah, definitely look, a bad culture eventually leads to attrition people leaving. Lots of people start leaving, just like in a year of RCM. Right. Like if you happen to leave for whatever reason? Well, your responsibilities have to be passed on to someone else right. Now for you to pass on your responsibility to someone else. If you’ve been there for a long time, you can’t pass it off in two weeks. It’s impossible. How would you pass it off in two weeks? Right. So a lot of things will be lost. Right now notify new employees. Right. Now imagine you want your firm’s went to a drawdown Jeff. No finding new employees, and you’re in a drawdown. So luck with that.
Jeff Malec 41:05
But I guess the strategy is still gonna be right. So it’s about the next step after that, right of like, fine. We couldn’t get the new employees. Now we’re not doing the new research. Now. We’re not doing the new project of the execution, improvement, whatever. Right. So it’s those little pieces that get washed away? Sort of, yeah. Oh, absolutely.
Kapil Rastogi 41:21
All the details get lost. And honestly being successful. It’s really all about getting the details. Right. Right. It really has I mean, yeah, I mean, look, first of all,
Jeff Malec 41:31
you’re like, that seems like it would lead towards the process culture, right? The What was that one call?
Kapil Rastogi 41:37
Bureaucratic? Or? Yeah,
Jeff Malec 41:38
it seems like, Okay, we gotta get all the details, right. Let’s make sure we’re bureaucratic culture.
Kapil Rastogi 41:43
Well, I mean, look, getting the details, right. I’m talking about the strategy. Now. That’s important anywhere you go. Right. So again, look, if I if I create a model, okay. It has a whole bunch of parameters, there’s nuances to it. The intuition, you know, again, my intuition is gonna be different than your intuition. Maybe Sal, the third, it makes no sense to you at all. That’s fine. But if I leave, that, you know, what, then all of a sudden, you have a strategy now with no strategy owner attached to it. Why is that dangerous? One can argue in the short term, there’s no real danger. It’s still running, as you said. Yeah, right. In the long run, there’s a huge danger, right? Who knows? The parameters are set the way they are? Why the third dip? Why not the six step one at the second? Why the dip all together? Why do you quantify dip the way you did? intervene? So in the long run, it really is a dangerous, that’s for sure. You know, so that’s where really, the culture eventually leaks into the strategy. That’s for sure. Because like, at the end of the day, Jeff, a firm is composed of people. And the models are built by people are built by humans,
Jeff Malec 42:54
right? I think that’s what some investors like they think they’re just buying this track record that exists through time, but really, you’re buying the firm their ability to innovate their ability to research, write, and produce new alpha over the years as things change.
Kapil Rastogi 43:08
Right. And look, Jeff, just going back to business literature, again, 90% of the alpha is created by 10% of people, always, always, always always, that 10% is not there anymore. As an investor, you want to know that?
Jeff Malec 43:23
I thought it was an 8020 rule. It’s a 990 10. Somewhere in
Kapil Rastogi 43:28
somewhere between, right I mean, you get the you get the overarching idea. Right? So when we talk about investing the track record, look, I totally agree with that. But hey, you better be sure that track record is repeatable.
Jeff Malec 43:40
Right? And, and dynamic to some extent of like, what if, yeah, which,
Kapil Rastogi 43:45
I mean, look, if you look at for example, let’s take something like paleontology, why the dinosaurs go extinct? Why? Because they couldn’t adapt. Right? The ability to adapt and adjust is one of the key predictors of long term success in any field. Right. And again, you know, the CEO of Goldman Sachs, Hank Paulson said it himself book, you know, he got a lot of heat for this. But he said, Look, pretty much the vast majority of our alpha or our results are really being generated. And you said, like, 20% of the people. Yeah. He got a lot. That’s always the way it works. It’s just kind of, again, a management Maxim, you’ll see that any company you go to, will see that. So as an investor, Hey, you want to make sure that whoever that 20% is, or 10% is still there.
Jeff Malec 44:35
Right. Right. Yeah. And we’ll move on. But yeah, in my mind, there’s still that piece of like, well, it doesn’t, right. And I could, I’ve heard it argument like, we know they’re not there. But it doesn’t matter, because it’s systematized and the processes are all documented and we know how to do right, we’ve got that all documented. So it doesn’t really matter if that person is there or not.
Kapil Rastogi 44:54
Fair enough. Yeah. I mean, look, it’s we can debate it all day. I think like what the whole concept of idea generation is Well, in terms of generating ideas, that’s where human, that’s what you need human beings?
Jeff Malec 45:05
No, I like it. Because a lot of times you just hear people or other firms say, No, we have a robust research process. And we’re always looking to innovate, but it’s yet rarely talked about is, here’s what we believe in terms of culture and making sure the people we need to be here are succeeding. But it also is interesting, if you have that commitment culture, and you’re saying we want to train them well enough that they can go start their own fun, and they leave, right? Aren’t you in that same spot? Like if you had the bad culture, and they leave, you have the good culture, and you’ve trained them well enough to leave? You kind of end up in the same spot that they left?
Kapil Rastogi 45:39
Oh, that’s a good point. Yeah, you do? Yeah. Look, we have commitment culture at our firm, right. And so it’s something that I implemented from day one. And both my partner and I were completely on board with it. But we’ve known each other since 2006. We’re working together through ups and downs. Now, look, I’ll give an analogy, right? If you have a tree or plant in your office, and it keeps growing, growing, growing, eventually hit the ceiling. But then it won’t stop growing, it’s gonna start growing, or they’re gonna start growing laterally across the ceiling. So this is how this is just a law of nature, right? Human beings were designed for growth. So look, people are going to leave whether you like it or not just started throwing funds, if they have talent. Yeah, right. If they don’t have talent, okay, well, they probably won’t leave them and go do something else. But if they do have talent, whether you like it or not, if they’re gonna leave, and you know, that’s very natural, it’s very normal for any living organism to want to grow up. Yeah, right. So brings my second point is, you know, when it comes to kind of culture is, you know, if nobody’s kind of started their own respective hedge fund. Then the other question, you know, as an investor, I would ask is definitely, how are you not generating? Or you’re not kind of producing or you’re not hiring the people? Right? What is your what is your hiring process? You know? And that’s, that’s a very important question to understand, like, Are you hiring lackluster, subpar individuals that are really not capable of performing at the highest level? And again, these are just questions, you know, I mean, again, investing is all about asking the right questions as as good trading.
Jeff Malec 47:32
So let’s switch topics from it. So our rankings white paper from RCN that, by the time this launches will either have just come out or will shortly come out. You guys are ranked, we show the top five and all these categories. So you’re in the top five of best risk control, essentially. Right. And I think so talk to us a little bit about how you actually do that because a lot of everyone says they can control that drawdowns, you guys have actually done it over the long term. The flip side, I can argue you’ve done it by keeping vol super low. So just talk through that of how you view risk control how you view your, you know, I think the drawdown is under 5%. Historically, right, which is unheard of in the Managed futures space.
Kapil Rastogi 48:18
Absolutely. So our max drawdown in Jeff is 4.4%. You know, it’s important to look at drawdown as a percentage of the volatility you’re going to find out, right. So if you’re running a two vol, and your max drawdown is four plus 4.4%, I don’t think it’s really all that attractive, but for us, in our example of running on, let’s say, a six ball, and, you know, our, let’s say, in our 67, volunteer drawdowns 4.4%, and as a percentage of volatility of our max drawdown is about, it’s about half of our annual goal. You know, that puts us pretty much from a downside deviation perspective, or pretty much, you know, right at the top of the list and CTAs. I guess the second question you had was, how do we do it? Right? Yeah. Yeah, that’s obviously a huge, huge topic. And it kind of boils down to all the work we’ve done over the years, the back testing infrastructure, right, which allows us to test ideas which other people can’t, can do it in a very difficult way. That helps us a lot. Our approach is very different in the sense that we, we break down the market into different regimes, and we have a whole army of strategies, which makes money in each respective regime. So when we think about risk, we obviously think about magnitude of drawdown. Right. But another key piece of the puzzle here, which is not talked about enough in my mind, which is something we really focus on is duration of drawdown. Right. We talked about risk management, there’s two key components, magnitude of drawdown right. So our max drawdown is 4.4%. Right, the set One thing though, is duration of drawdown, which is, in my view equally as important, right? So in our case, look, we we’ve hit new high watermarks every year. Right. And it goes back to our approach again of wanting to be the best at what we do. So how do you how do you produce the highest compounded returns in the long run? Well, it’s pretty simple mathematically. The first thing you do is you minimize drawdown. Right? Right. Like if you if you lose 20%, right, you have to make 25%. Just right. So if you want to produce the greatest content or returns in the long run, step number one is just minimize drawdowns. Right, which is, again, sounds common sense, but it’s something I want people through just mathematically to really, really understand this concept, right is how lethal and how detrimental drawdowns are to your long term return stream. Right. And so, that’s kind of you know, that when I talk about being the best at what we do, minimizing drawdown is really one of the big pieces of that. So we have very strict risk controls across all of our trades. If any of our trades loses 30 basis points, we’re out immediately. We have really, really strict risk stops across all of our strategies in all the markets we trade, whereby if any market loses 100 basis points, the entire markets liquidated and it can’t trade until the next business day, for example. Another
Jeff Malec 51:39
You mean like not if the if crude oil is down 1% and get out of all crude oil trades, if all of your signals inside of that market lose 100 basis points.
Kapil Rastogi 51:49
Correct. So crudo hypothetically, we lose 100 basis points at anytime throughout the trading day, right. And all these markets almost trade 24 hours a day, then we completely liquidate that market. So our models can’t trade cool at all until next business day.
Jeff Malec 52:08
All right. Okay. So it’s absent the signals, no matter if you’re making money in that trade or losing money?
Kapil Rastogi 52:12
No, we have to be losing money. So if we’ve lost more than 100 basis points, okay.
Jeff Malec 52:16
Well, anytime, across multiple signals,
Kapil Rastogi 52:21
right, at a portfolio level. Yeah, we liquidate all of our crude oil signals. And we can’t train till the next business day.
Jeff Malec 52:29
How do you think about that, because that can be a trap, right? If you’re like, if you always are locking in that loss. But never, you might not ever get the gains to our size, the losses that you locked in, I can’t remember the name of the firm and since that business, but they had this whole complex system of like, and basically they figured out they were just locking in losses. Right, and it kind of caused this downward sloping equity curve of like, we just continually quickly lock in losses. So how do you avoid that trap?
Kapil Rastogi 52:58
Oh, look, you have to back test, it is all I can say. I mean, for us, we’ve back tested everything very rigorously. So in our case, also all of our strategies, about 32 of them, they all have a statistically significant positive skew. So it makes sense for our type of trading to have this type of risk control, because luck. I mean, if if I put a trade on miles per trade on, let’s say right now, right, and let’s suppose the trade goes south, meaning we buy crude oil, and the market immediately starts moving against US crude oil and go straight down. We know that that trade is most likely going to end up as a losing trade. Because generally speaking, our good trades just looking to start working almost immediately. Yeah, we’ve done all that research and done that analysis. So we know the look at we’re losing 100 basis points. Plus all these signals include well, that you know, what, that’s going to those trades are all going to end badly,
Jeff Malec 54:04
right? Maybe one out of 10, or one out of 100 times there’s this huge reversal and you made money, but you’re saying across on average, you know, it’s a bad day.
Kapil Rastogi 54:12
Right. And so again, this boils down to our style of trading, which is very different than the rest of CTAs. Because we have a statistically significant positive skew in our daily return stream, which, logically you would think that, you know, for example, trend following would have that, but it doesn’t, right. I mean, the data doesn’t lie, right? So because we have that. And one other really nice thing about this type of trading, Jeff, is that we can cut our losses very aggressively. And it actually that actually increases our risk adjusted return. It doesn’t decrease it.
Jeff Malec 54:47
And talk a little bit about skew and what you said because I would argue most trend following does have positive skew. Maybe it’s just the ones that I like and I end up tie this back to it whenever Just thinking about it, your mandate of like, Hey, we’re gonna have the best risk adjusted return, I could create some options selling program and get lucky on the timing and have for sure the best risk adjusted return right? Essentially no loss is huge Sharpe ratio. Because the risk is hidden, it hasn’t hit yet. So, two part of their like, first explain skew. And that would be negative to you. Because eventually you’re gonna have the big loss. Right. And it’s what, skew it the other way. But explain how you think about skew because I think it’s a little bit different from your math background. Yeah,
Kapil Rastogi 55:30
absolutely. So, you know, anyone can look up the formula for skew online, it basically means, look, your best case scenario is better than your worst case scenario. Right? Like your best trades are better than your worst traits.
Jeff Malec 55:44
That has never heard it put. So simply, I like Yeah.
Kapil Rastogi 55:47
Yeah, I mean, look, a lot of these statistics, I like to look, you have to glean the essence of it. Right? I think we were talking to Jeff, you and I offline about this is that a lot of these statistics Excuse an excellent example, was composed by individuals who were definitely not working in the finance space, right? It was, the statistics were composed to help describe the natural world biological, right? It was not, it was not created to help us be better investors. So it’s important to understand the essence behind the statistics, the statistics. And what we do is we create our own statistics, which reflects the underlying theme of what we’re trying to capture. So if you look at the ratio of the best month or worst month of a manager, that, in essence, is skew from an investment practitioners perspective, which is far more meaningful than the mathematical skew. So let me give an example. Right, our SKU of our daily returns is, I believe, the plus 1.6 something around there. And it’s statistically significant. Let’s say someone else’s SKU is no point to those numbers, which I mentioned 1.6 SKU versus point to skew. It doesn’t have any real meaning attached to it. Right? But if I tell you, hey, look, Jeff, our best month pay is about three times our worst month, you understand that immediately. Anyone can understand that? You don’t need to have a math background to understand that. Right. So now we’re really getting at the essence of why skew is so important, which is Look, your best trades are better than your worst traits. Right? Which intuitively should be the case. But look, we all have access to databases, just do the analysis, right? I mean, how many firms especially when you look at the daily returns, then it gets really interesting, right? I mean, Jeff, look at this option, CTA index, right. Look at the daily returns. Do you know what the skew of this option, CTA indexes daily returns are? The Stockton s TTI. Index?
Jeff Malec 57:57
I do not off top my head. Thanks for putting me on the spot. So.
Kapil Rastogi 58:03
Okay, well, I’ll tell you, so I don’t remember it myself what the number is, but it it has a statistically significant negative skew on daily returns, both the sock 10 CTA index and the sock 10 as TTI next, have a statistically significant negative skew of daily returns,
Jeff Malec 58:24
but not on a monthly basis. Or even on a monthly basis. Roughly,
Kapil Rastogi 58:29
you know, I we don’t really look, I don’t know off the top of my head. Ben has it on a monthly basis? I’d have to check that. Yeah, we do all of our analysis using daily returns just because you get your sample size is so much larger. Right. Yeah.
Jeff Malec 58:45
But that’s interesting in and of itself there, right like that you could have it could be negative on a daily basis and positive on a monthly basis, perhaps. Usually, it
Kapil Rastogi 58:53
doesn’t happen like that. Yeah, it may be negative on a daily basis and kind of slightly negative on a monthly basis. Neutral. It’s not going to change. It’s kind of like looking at daily returns versus monthly returns. Right.
Jeff Malec 59:06
The economy is is that just a reflection of the right? Markets? Take the what isn’t stairs up elevator down. So even if you have risk control, you get some spikes down, you get stopped out immediately. So yeah, that would be my pro trend follower. Price Action, CTA index, defense of like, okay, but on a monthly basis, it’s not that bad. And they’re just at risk of some huge Down Spike debts like last week.
Kapil Rastogi 59:34
Sure, absolutely. But as an investor, Jeff, you want to know that, right? I mean, right now, the hey, look, Jeff, let’s put it this way. You want to invest in a CTA, right. By definition, you have to there’s some timing involved. You could invest today or tomorrow, or next month or next year? Yeah. To some extent you have the time and, you know, if a firm is negative skew, the timing problem becomes much harder. For sure. Right. And I He talked about, you know, minimizing drawdown and how important that is towards achieving and high long term compounded return. Right? The worst thing in the world, Jeff, that you want is, hey, look, you put your money into CTA today, immediately goes into a drawdown. Right. Now, the interesting thing, Jeff, is that the sock chat s TTI index into the short term index, right, short term traders, and it’s a whole bunch of short term traders, right? Different short term traders, that all do different, different things. Right. And that is highly statistically significant negative skew as well. Just something to think about. Right. Like I said, investing, it’s all about asking the right questions.
Jeff Malec 1:00:41
So without knowing what’s going on under each of those firms, black boxes, why do you think that is? What do you think they’re doing that creates that profile? Massively, generally speaking,
Kapil Rastogi 1:00:53
without me knowing, obviously, anything about what anyone else does, right? I don’t know. Again, I have no idea. I can just explain to you what the data says. And I can clearly tell you what the data says and what it doesn’t say, as to why behind the data. Hey, are, you know, put your creative thinking brain cap on right now? Explain that right?
Jeff Malec 1:01:20
Well, you stops there risk isn’t fixed. It’s right. It’s dynamic. All the above can create that.
Kapil Rastogi 1:01:26
Exactly. The stops aren’t tight enough. I mean, they don’t have stops at all. I can’t say because we’ve always had a positive skew. And that’s how all of our strategies have been designed. So
Jeff Malec 1:01:41
dine yo, yo, if it’s a strategy, the backtest looks great. But it comes out as negative skew, it’s out. Absolutely. It’s a it has to be significant.
Kapil Rastogi 1:01:52
It has to be yes. strategy level. So that’s from a portfolio. perspective, Jeff, I can’t emphasize based on our analysis, how important it is to have constituents of our portfolio which had a positive skew. So for example, we didn’t turtle research, which shows that if a manager has a worst month, greater than the best month over the past three years, right, which is take a step back and think about this logically, that shouldn’t happen. Right? Like over three years. Okay. You’ll have good periods and bad periods. Yeah. Right. Shouldn’t your best month be greater than your worst month?
You would think? Yeah. Okay, so
Kapil Rastogi 1:02:34
if your worst months, great, and you’re
Jeff Malec 1:02:36
unless you’re an option seller, but yeah, right.
Kapil Rastogi 1:02:39
But if your worst month is greater than your best month, over the past three years. Hey, look, I can just say as being a trader for all these years, there’s something amiss, right? There’s something I’m missing your risk management, right. So we did a study using the Lipper hedge fund database over 10,000 hedge funds, not just CTAs, long, short equity, global macro, everyone. We said to ourselves, okay, look at over the past three years, a hedge fund has a worst month greater their best month, over the past three years. What did I say about the drawdown over the next three years? And not surprisingly, what it said was those firms that have a worst month greater than their best month for the past three years. Well guess what, over the next three years, statistically, they have a higher drawdown
Jeff Malec 1:03:33
than they had in the past are higher than their peers.
Kapil Rastogi 1:03:37
higher relative to average, statistically, yeah. No, relative the relative the whole universe. Right. So if I had a universe of 10,000, hedge funds, right, then, over the past three years, if I look at the worst month, the worst month, the best month, that ratio, and I rank all the hedge funds, one to 10,000, based on that one statistic of worst month, the best month, right? And I say to myself, hey, look, that the hedge funds that are at kind of at the bottom, or even the bottom 50% Right. What happens to those hedge funds over the next three years? Right? How does their drawdown rank amongst those 10,000? Those hedge funds that are worst month greater than best month over the past three years statistically, have a much higher drawdown relative to the 10,000 hedge funds in the universe.
Jeff Malec 1:04:40
So let’s talk a little bit about CTAs. got smacked last week with all this SVB bank stuff. Should you say SVB bank that saying Silicon Valley Bank bank, but SVB rates crashed bonds rallied everyone was short bonds. So talk a little bit about did one? Did you guys have a bad two days there along with everyone else? Was it quite different? And kind of had just explained that in terms of your model how you viewed those two days of massive Treasury action?
Kapil Rastogi 1:05:16
Yeah, no, we’ve we’ve made a small amount of money over those two days.
Jeff Malec 1:05:21
Again, we don’t want to it’s not necessarily indicative of future results. I’ll throw that in there. Right.
Kapil Rastogi 1:05:28
Yeah, I mean, look what we do what I’m doing. Right. So we have, look, we have a hardcore program to like, look, we don’t, we’re not today highs or the lows, like we’re not buying and sell them respectively. Right, for many reasons for that, because again, the risk adjusted return on that trade. Positive, but the Alpha has slowly been kind of going down over the past 30 years, we’ve tracked it. So we don’t do any trend following right. So with that being said, yeah, it was, it was definitely vol definitely expanded very rapidly, which, that that’s the part that makes it a little more challenging on our end, because involved kind of like, you know, expands extremely rapidly, then position sizing, we obviously modeled all this, but that can always be a little more challenging. You know what that being said, definitely, on this positive force, that’s for sure. Because anytime there’s a expansion of fear, like real fear the market, which when I talk about fear, I really talk about employing balls.
Jeff Malec 1:06:34
Now in real life, and not just in equities cross, everything you’re looking at.
Kapil Rastogi 1:06:38
Exactly. Anytime you have expansion and applied roles, that always generally speaking, represents a good environment for us. So that’s what you kind of saw a little bit. You saw that over the past couple of days.
Jeff Malec 1:06:50
And that moves you into those models that like that environment. Right, exactly. And how does that look at day to day you’re switching? These 14 are on the field, I think you have a sports analogy, right? But like, explain that of like, okay, we’ve now moved into this environment last Friday, who’s going on the field? Who’s coming off the fence? Yeah,
Kapil Rastogi 1:07:09
we have like a regime indicator whereby we classify the market into four different regimes rising vol all involve high vol, low vol. Each market. No, overall, just overall, overall, very broadly speaking. And then we identify first and foremost, what regime we’re in, based on a proprietary volatility indicator that we’ve come up with based on implied balls around the world. And then once you’ve identified which of these four regimes, rent, then basically we allocate some more to the strategies that do well averaging and less to the strategies that kind of don’t do as well, is how we approach it. So Natto,
Jeff Malec 1:07:49
38, like they’re evenly split, there’s, yeah, nine inch per, per bucket.
Kapil Rastogi 1:07:55
Correct. By design, we have approximately even split across all four.
Jeff Malec 1:08:00
And so it’ll always be like, what is that split look like? Is it ever everything in one bucket, or there’s always some hanging around in the other buckets?
Kapil Rastogi 1:08:09
No diversification, we will never shut off to leave the buckets and just got one. That’s not how you achieve on a risk adjusted return.
Jeff Malec 1:08:17
More than you’re you’re guessing, or you’re not going to be able to react to the shifts quick enough?
Kapil Rastogi 1:08:22
Yes, exactly. Like, for example, a good example I was uses March 2020. Clue, we all know what happened in March 2020. But then April 2020, is what the market had a huge rally. Right? So you got to be able to switch regimes are fairly, fairly rapidly. And that’s what we did. So we can march, for example, you know, we had an amazing month, we were up about 7%. Well, over one standard deviation. But then, most importantly, in my opinion, in April, we also made money, right, which is a totally different environment. Because yeah, poor 2020. The market rally very strongly, but again, a regime indicator it switched.
Jeff Malec 1:09:01
Right. So I was waiting for you to say that you’re sending the seven footers onto the floor, then you’re pulling the small guards off, then you’re putting the forwards back in.
Kapil Rastogi 1:09:09
Yeah, I mean, using a sports analogy. I mean, look, this is what any successful coach does. Right? You know, if you want to use a basketball analogy, that’s exactly what they do. Right? I mean, you identify what kind of regime or what kind of where you are in the game. And then, you know, you basically respond accordingly. It’s a calculated response. It’s not an emotional reaction. It’s something you’ve thought about ahead of time. And you calculate it. Right. So yes, jump to your example. I mean, yeah, absolutely. Right. I mean, look, I mean, you know, you want to throw your seven foot on there, at a certain point in the game. very strategically knowing that that six seven footer, hey, he may not last the whole game is insurance may not be the greatest. He may not be a good free, free throw shooter. But he’s got other strikes. I mean, no, no players
Jeff Malec 1:09:57
perfect. Sides Michael Jordan.
Kapil Rastogi 1:10:00
I’m here weaknesses to write when he first started the pistons kind of like, beat him. I
Jeff Malec 1:10:04
was Yeah. Yeah.
Kapil Rastogi 1:10:05
I mean, you know, he looked, I don’t advocate that. But I mean, their coach had a strategy. And it worked. Let’s be honest, and he didn’t win championships. Let’s not forget MJ didn’t win championships until later on his career.
Jeff Malec 1:10:17
Yeah, really. But that was just my duty as a loyal Chicagoans to point out that Michael Jordan was perfect. Well, what did we cover? What do you want to share this that we didn’t cover anything?
Kapil Rastogi 1:10:34
Oh, yeah, I guess, you know, one of the things I like talking about lunch is kind of more fun notice, like, you know, strong parallels again, between, you know, championship sports teams and championship headphones. You know, you know, a while ago back in context, last year, Derek Jeter was one of the guest speakers. Right? I don’t know if you’re at context. Not this year, but before that. I didn’t see him. No. Okay. Well, Derek Jeter was there, you could this is down in context, Miami, and he was talking about what it was like to lead the New York Yankees. And he was talking about all the challenges of leading that team. And I thought it was a great talk, because he talked about how you had Hispanic speakers and you had non Hispanic speakers. You know, what, they didn’t really get along with each other. Very interesting. And I thought to myself, you know, even what does it really matter? Honestly, if they can, you can hit the ball really well. Fine, you don’t get along off the field. So but this is where again, anyone that played competitive sports will know it always translates and on the field performance, always. Right. And so one thing he said was, you know, the, what he did we know Hispanic speakers, you know, I guess the culture general manager said, hey, look, you know, you guys should learn English better. So you guys can all get along. And you know, Derek Jeter said, as a leader, he said, Hey, look, I actually want native English speakers to learn Spanish better. Yeah. And that was actually the turning point, right there is when he, as a leader said, hey, look, you know what, English speakers they should also learn Spanish, you can imagine it got huge resistance. Yeah, right. Right. But it was just the thought, this is a real commitment culture, right, right play here. And it’s something like I strive for that within our own firm, like, Look, I I will never ask my employees, Jeff to do something which I would do myself, right. Whether that’s cleaning data, getting a Starbucks latte. Once they talk like, right, I would never ask them to do something, which I wouldn’t do myself. Now. Reality is like, it may not be efficient for me to do some of those things. Because time is very valuable. The whole idea is like, I wouldn’t ask them to do something, which I’m not willing to do myself. And they can see that, right, they see that I have committed to their kind of long term growth. And long term growth means different things for different people. Right? For you may mean something very, very different than someone else within your firm. And that’s okay. Right. But the whole idea is the long thought with concept, a long term growth is something that is encouraged. And ultimately, that leads to greater loyalty. And look for your loyalty. It leads to results in the long run. That’s for sure. Yeah, that’s, I guess that’s the only one.
Jeff Malec 1:13:29
But I’m still torn on that. Or you just sign a really expensive superstar player, right? Like you get. You get messy on your team, and you’re instantly better, even if he doesn’t fit in with the culture whatsoever. Or you get it right. So there’s those I mean, but you see this in the basketball world right now. Like they try and build these super teams Brooklyn, miserably fan. Right. We’ll see Phoenix, what happens. But yeah, it’s happening in real time in sports of like, can you just pay by your way into it? Right. And other people would argue like, Well, sure. The Yankees had the culture and Jeter did that. But they had the highest payroll, and they did all the Yeah, I just like to argue the other side of it a little bit. But yeah,
Kapil Rastogi 1:14:07
sure. Well, hey, I can say like the 2040 USA USA Olympic team. They definitely had the highest payroll.
Jeff Malec 1:14:14
Yeah, they won the gold, right? No, they didn’t. They won bronze. So that wasn’t the real dream team. That was the one before Jordan and everything. Yeah, those guys won the one after that. Yeah. But Bradley is still the most talented by far. But
Kapil Rastogi 1:14:29
I mean, you know, the Los Angeles Lakers back in the early 2000s. They had Kobe and Shaq. And if you remember, they stopped winning championships at a certain point.
Jeff Malec 1:14:38
Yeah, yeah. Right. They get Oh, yeah.
Kapil Rastogi 1:14:42
But yeah, I mean, I guess you know, I guess the one thing is is like you know, going back to sports analogies, they always say the defense wins championships. Have you heard this yet? This is famous saying amongst any any coach always says this. There’s literature debating back and forth. Right. But look, if you look at I was gonna go to baseball teams have done with generally win the World Series. Any general manager will tell you, Jeff, that good pitching piece good hitting any day, any day, right? Basketball people interviewed a Kobe Bryant. He said himself. It’s like, look, we won because our defense, the offense, like I’m going to have the opportunities to score. No. Winning comes down to good defense. And, you know, soccer, you talked about Messi. Hey, you know what now they’re doing soccer stats like soccer? sabermetrics, right where you don’t want the team that has possession the most, they tend to win usually wins. Right? So look, there’s in our field is no different. Right? I mean, what does it mean, to play good defense? It means to minimize drawdowns? You know, that’s really important. What is the mean to have possession, the majority of time like in soccer, those teams generally tend to win. I mean, staying above your high watermark. Right, then you’re, you’re playing from a position of strength, you’re not playing a position of weakness anymore.
Jeff Malec 1:15:58
I was gonna say you don’t want to have but I viewed it quickly as having possession being like having exposure you want as low exposure as possible. Right.
Kapil Rastogi 1:16:07
Right. But I mean, you know, in soccer, for example, right, whatever, whatever team has possession, the majority of time statistically, tends to win. Yeah. Right. So what’s the analogy? Trading what’s basically possession means like staying above your high watermark, because again, now you’re, you’re in a position of strength. Right? You’re not trading competition or weakness. Right. Um, that makes a big difference. For sure. So, all right,
Jeff Malec 1:16:35
well, we’ll see good luck to your Princeton tigers. If you adopted them, you’re an MIT guy.
Kapil Rastogi 1:16:42
Yeah, well, you know, I guess like, you know, my alma mater is basketball team. likely will not be in March Madness for quite a while. So yeah, I would talk to them.
Jeff Malec 1:16:54
Awesome. Well, thanks compelled to everyone where they can find you. Can they get your tear sheets and everything when they go to your website?
Kapil Rastogi 1:17:03
It’s not on our website for regulatory purposes, but they just reach out to me directly. On LinkedIn, the best way we have a website, obviously, you can there’s a Contact Information form on our website where you can kind of reach out to us and we just have to make sure that you know the hurdles. Sent.
Jeff Malec 1:17:24
Understood. Well keep it going. Keep controlling that risk. And we’ll talk to you soon.
Kapil Rastogi 1:17:29
Great. Thank you, Jeff. Thank you.
Jeff Malec 1:17:30
Yeah, thanks for being here. Okay, that’s it for the pod go check out the rankings. Thanks for the fun chat. Thanks, Jeff Burger producing an RCM for supporting and we’ll see you next week.
This transcript was compiled automatically via Otter.AI and as such may include typos and errors the artificial intelligence did not pick up correctly.