Founder and CIO Andurand Capital
The MSc clearly opened the door for me to obtain several job offers: Equity Derivatives Trading at Deutsche Bank and Commodities Trading at Goldman Sachs
You created your own fund at a very young age after having distinguished yourself at Goldman Sachs. Why did you decide to leave large financial institutions such as Goldman Sachs and Bank of America to start your own business?
I held the position of trader as soon as I arrived at Goldman Sachs in Singapore. After a year in the trading room at Goldman Sachs, I realised that I was capable of doing this job on my own by creating my own business. I quickly had the confidence to aim for a more senior position and I went to work for the Bank of America. I then received an offer from Vitol, one of the leading oil trading companies to become a partner.
It was a very positive experience. Notably, in my second year with the group, I made the biggest profit in the company’s history. At the time, I managed between $100 and $200 million, with a 200% return on investment. I knew that my strategy was very scalable; I could have also managed much larger amounts of money but maintain the same type of return on investment.
When I created my first fund, BlueGold, in 2008, I was confident that I could recreate an information flow at least as efficient as my previous experience and offer a truly different product for hedge fund investors. Working for my own fund was also an opportunity to apply the risk management rules that I believed in.
In order to be successful as an entrepreneur, I think the important thing is to have great confidence in yourself and to be optimistic. If someone is afraid to take risks, they will not be successful in the world of trading.
What excites you about your job as a hedge fund manager?
What I like about trading is that it is concerned with so many areas. More particularly, in energy trading, it is necessary to analyse geopolitics, economic policy, supply and demand, market psychology and, of course, to have the perfect command of finance and mathematics. Above all, I like to understand how the world works, and this job demands that.
Trading is also an exciting experience, quite similar to competitive sport. However, instead of being measured by time (as if someone is a runner or swimmer), you are judged by the return on investment.
Day by day, I do a lot of analysis and reading. My focus is on trends in production and demand growth. For oil, it is difficult to have a balanced market and it is important to know how to distance yourself from current events and think more about the medium and long term. In the end, few people reason this way, and I think that this difference explains my success.
You graduated from the Finance program in 2000. What did you learn from the training, and how did it open your mind to the world of finance and trading in particular?
My original passion was swimming, with the dream of becoming an Olympic champion! I was in the junior French team and was one of the best European swimmers in my category. However, I failed to qualify for the 1996 Olympics. I didn’t take this failure well at the time, but I then came to accept that I was not good enough to make this Olympic dream come true.
I spent a lot of time asking myself what I wanted to do with my life. My conclusion was that I could live as many lives as possible in one, but I had to do them in order. Firstly, I had to earn a good living from the beginning of my career, in order to see all the opportunities offered to me. During my engineering degree, I became interested in trading and started to read books and consult websites on the financial markets. I felt like I was made for trading, and it is from there that I oriented my career towards this profession, first by doing internships in finance and then by applying for a Master's degree in Finance from HEC.
I really enjoyed the MSc in International Finance at HEC. I found the courses and the teachers to be excellent, the students brilliant and the atmosphere very motivating. The MSc clearly opened the door for me to obtain several job offers: Equity Derivatives Trading at Deutsche Bank and Commodities Trading at Goldman Sachs. I was able to perform well right from the start because I was already well trained for the job: only 3 days after my arrival, my manager was on leave for 2 weeks and I had to manage the book on my own and give exotic derivatives to the clients.
You are very athletic and president of Glory Sports International. Where does this passion for kickboxing come from and how do you juggle your work with your fund and the management of this league?
I worked hard for two years to set up the business plan, recruit a team and launch the company. Now it is very well managed, I am chairman of the board and am present on the big strategic decisions. I've been able to hire the right teams to effectively manage this league because I concentrate mainly on my job as a hedge fund manager!