Ahead of The Curve
Maxim|January - February 2020
How a financial prodigy stayed ahead of the market for more than three decades

In 1987, while many of his classmates at Harvard were out partying and living the stereotypical college life, a student named Ken Griffin was already focused on building his future. ‘The 19-year-old was busy developing the skills and laying the groundwork for what would eventually become a financial empire, amongst the largest such firms in the world. His setup was Spartan and ordinary by most standards, composed of a telephone, a personal computer and a fax machine (eventually enhanced by a satellite dish he placed on the roof of his dorm), but his ambition was anything but modest.

Raising $265,000 that included money from his mother, grandmother and two other investors, Griffin sought opportunities to profit off the convertible bonds market. Despite these humble beginnings, it didn't take long for Griffin to get noticed by the financial community. Attracting the admiration and support of hedge fund Impresario Frank Meyer due to the success of the investment strategies Griffin devised while at Harvard, he returned 70% in a single year working with Meyer, thus drawing the attention and investments of other high-profile financiers.

On the basis of those results, the economic wunderkind was eventually able to establish Wellington Financial Group in 1990 with $4.6 million. Rebranded as Citadel in 1994, with the name based on the idea of providing a safe place for funds during turbulent times, the Chicago-based hedge fund today oversees more than $30 billion in capital.

Fast forward, and that young prodigy has become one of the titans of the financial world, with a net worth estimated to be north of $12 billion. A pioneer in the area of quantitative research, using complex mathematical models to most effectively invest the assets under his control, Griffin was years (if not decades) ahead of his rivals in understanding the power of such investment techniques, made possible by the rapid advance of computer technology. Griffin ensures that all areas of Citadel’s business are supported by this advanced level of technological supervision and analysis.

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