Our weekly newsletter is out, and it seems like we’re starting to get a little morbid around here â€“ first with the “Is Trend Following Dead?” piece a couple weeks back, and now an “autopsy” of sorts on what went wrong at John W. Henry’s self-named firm. Some of the sales teams in the industry may prefer to avoid discussing such subjects, probably thinking something along the lines that doing so will “scare away the customers,” but to hear that John W. Henry was shutting down his eponymous managed futures shop was the kind of news that draws us like a moth to a flame.
Here was an industry stalwart in every sense of the word. A man who helped put managed futures on the map, and helped his pocket book to the tune of becoming a billionaire. He is a literal Hall of Famer, having received the Futures Hall of Fame award (whatever that is) from the Futures Industry Association. This isn’t quite Paul Simon hanging up his guitar, or Steven Spielberg deciding to get out of the movie business â€“ but it’s close in terms of shock factor in the managed futures space.
This raises one huge question â€“ well, actually, it raises hundreds of questions â€“ but the big one is this: what in the world happened? We don’t just mean this week in the announcement that he was done, either. What happened in the past 8 years to transform a behemoth into a blip on the radar? Where did John Henry go wrong? Eight years ago he was managing $3 Billion and on top of the managed futures world, with a hot young upstart called Winton measuring in at only about 1/3 the size of Henry’s managed futures empire.
Why was 2004 the top for Henry, yet just a launching point for Winton and other billion-dollar managers? But most importantly for investors - how can we learn to identify when a top-tier managers’ best days are behind them? Click through to see what we found.
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