A French banker at the heart of hedge funds’ reconfiguration
A few years ago, Emmanuel Roman was still a pure Goldman Sachs product, having spent 18 years of his life with the firm. Recruited in 1987 by the investment bank, when he was still in the process of completing his Ph.D. in economics at the University of Chicago, he went on to hold numerous positions of responsibility (equity derivatives, prime brokerage - services to hedge funds -, European equities, etc.). However, when he was student, the man who is now number two at Man, the European leader on the hedge fund market (direct funds and funds of funds), aspired to an academic career and wanted to become a professor of economics. "I was offered the opportunity to work in research at Goldman Sachs, in particular in the field of portfolio modelling, and I don’t regret my choice since my work has always been very satisfying intellectually", declares Emmanuel Roman.
However, in 2005, he had the feeling that he had "gone as far as he could at Goldman Sachs, after having been involved in a wide range of activities". Above all, he wanted "a new personal challenge, to reinvent myself and have more influence on the structure, by switching from a large international bank to an SME, GLG, in an area, namely hedge funds, which I had covered for many years at Goldman Sachs". Accordingly, in September 2005, he joined GLG, an independent British asset management company, as co-CEO. Since then he has contributed to its growth, its listing in New York and then the merger in October 2010 with the market giant, Man. Moreover, he joined the latter’s board in May 2011. In his view, this merger was indispensable in the post-2008 context, since investors are now more inclined to put their trust in larger firms.
Today, however, he is not worried about the potential of hedge funds. "We were in competition with banks on several markets, in particular credit and convertibles, but they have withdrawn and we now benefit from wider spreads, which has enabled us to produce far better results over the last three years", he notes. Although he considers that "the stigmatisation of the financial sector achieves very little", he finds "the Vickers report (on ring-fencing retail banking activities) extremely interesting, with banks needing to accept lower profits".
*COO : chief operating officer ; CEO : chief executive officer