Renaissance Suffers $11 Billion Exodus With Meager Quant Returns

Investors are still headed for the exits at Renaissance Technologies, pulling $11 billion from the quant giant in seven months.

Disgruntled by subpar returns, clients have now redeemed -- or asked to redeem -- more than a quarter of the capital that Renaissance manages in hedge funds with outside money, according to investor documents seen by Bloomberg. The firm now is mostly managing its own internal capital, a person with knowledge of the matter said.

The exodus marks a setback for legendary investor Jim Simons, the military codebreaker and mathematician who started Renaissance and turned it into one of the industry’s most successful hedge fund firms. It’s also put the spotlight on a discrepancy not lost on clients: They’ve been losing money on struggling funds while Renaissance insiders have been reaping fat returns, with Simons himself making billions of dollars last year alone.

Client Exodus

Renaissance has seen $11.2 billion in redemptions since December

Source: Investor documents

Note: Fulfilled and requested redemptions for the firm's three public hedge funds.

From December to February, clients pulled, or asked to pull, about $5 billion from the funds, Bloomberg reported. That was followed by about $6 billion more through June, the documents show. While redemptions peaked in April, they slowed in May and June.

A spokesman for the East Setauket, New York-based firm declined to comment.

One of the world’s largest quant managers, Renaissance is essentially split into two parts: the public hedge funds which invest on behalf of insiders and outside institutions, and the wildly profitable Medallion Fund, which is solely for employees.

The dichotomy arose in 2005, when Simons removed the last of Medallion’s outside investors, having found that the fund could handle only a limited amount of capital before returns began to suffer.

The firm created the Renaissance Institutional Equities Fund, or RIEF, for outside investors seeking to tap into the firm’s proprietary computer models. The Renaissance Institutional Diversified Global Equities (RIDGE) and the Renaissance Institutional Diversified Alpha funds (RIDA) came later.

None of these external funds have been winners recently.

All three posted their worst performance ever in 2020 and continued to lose money through the first quarter of this year. While they improved after March, their returns have still lagged behind the broader market for the first five months of 2021.

Having endured losses while markets soared, investors pulled a net $10.1 billion from the three funds between Dec. 1 and April 30. In May, investors requested a net $700 million and are poised to yank another $400 million this month, according to documents seen by Bloomberg.

Those figures could be offset by June inflows or if investors decided to walk back any of their redemption requests.

Most of the cash was pulled from RIEF, which has seen its assets shrink by more than 25% since June 2020. Meanwhile, RIDA and RIDGE are now shadows of their former selves, having lost 50% and 43% of their assets, respectively, since then.

Renaissance Redemptions

Over seven months, clients mostly pulled cash from the firm's largest fund

Source: Investor documents.

Note: Data show fulfilled and requested redemptions from Dec. 2020 to June 2021.

The redemptions mirror a wider retrenchment among quant funds overall. Assets for the strategy have fallen by more than $170 billion since their 2017 peak, according to EurekaHedge data.

In Renaissance’s case, the declines demonstrate that computer models -- devised to spot patterns in historical data -- were no match for a once-in-a-century pandemic and unprecedented monetary intervention by central banks.

“It has been a tough environment for equity focused quant funds up until recently,” said Troy Gayeski, co-chief investment officer at SkyBridge Capital. The complex nature of these funds makes it “difficult for investors to understand why a manager is making or losing money,” he said.

This article originally appeared on Bloomberg.


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