Cliff Asness: The Quant Who Won’t Shut Up

From Bloomberg, a profile of Cliff Asness as the “quant who won’t shut up”:

“What kind of coward doesn’t share his views?” asks Asness, 43, as he paces his office overlooking Long Island Sound in Greenwich, Connecticut. “I believe strongly that the world is going on the wrong course.”

Asness went the wrong way three years ago. From the start of 2007 through year-end 2008, AQR’s flagship Absolute Return fund fell more than 50 percent — the kind of drawdown that’s often a death warrant for a fund. Firmwide assets tumbled to $17.2 billion in March 2009 from a peak of $39.1 billion in September 2007, according to AQR investors.

“I heard the Valkyries circling,” quips Asness, who says he identifies with action heroes like Captain America and Spider-Man. “I saw the grim reaper at my door.”

AQR survived. It did so by launching a campaign of diplomacy with its clients and offering a host of new funds and strategies. Asness’s funds have recovered smartly. Though the Absolute Return fund’s assets were down to $1.6 billion as of Aug. 31 from a peak of $4 billion, the fund rose 38 percent in 2009 and more than 10 percent through mid-September of this year, investors say.

More here.