Jim Simons, the founder of Renaissance Technologies, is a highly regarded quantitative trading hedge fund company that sits on top of a $55 billion fortune. Jim established Renaissance Technologies in 1982. He retired in 2010 but still plays an important role at Renaissance Technologies and reaps the benefits of its funds.
Simons has donated $2.7 billion to charitable causes. Math for America is funded by his foundation. He is also a supporter of autism research.
Education and early life
Jim Simons was born on April 25, 1938, to an American Jewish family, the only child of Marcia (nee Kantor) and Matthew Simons, and raised in Brookline, Massachusetts. His father owned a shoe factory, and his mother was a distant relative of Georg Cantor.
At the age of 23, he received a bachelor’s in mathematics degree from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (in 1958) and a doctorate in mathematics at the University of California, Berkeley, under the supervision of Bertram Kostant (in 1961).
Investment Philosophy and Success Story
Jim Simons, a former prize-winning mathematician who was also a master code breaker at the IDA and had a successful career as a finance professional, decided to go into finance. The hedge fund Monemetrics was founded by a mathematician in 1978. It was the precursor to Renaissance Technologies. James Harris Simons founded Renaissance Inc in 1982.
Simons didn’t think about applying mathematics to his hedge fund at first. However, over time, he realized he could use mathematical and statistical models to interpret data by looking for non-random movements in financial data to predict future returns.
By 1988, Simons decided to solely use quantitative analysis to decide which trades to enter. Renaissance Technologies is a specialist in systematic trading that uses quantifucative methods based on mathematical models and statistical analysis.
Simons sought only experts in mathematics and data analysis to join him at the fund. Quant King filled the fund with mathematicians and physicists. These complex mathematical formulas were the reason that the Renaissance was able to thrive. Simons ran Renaissance from late 2009 until his retirement.
Since then, they have been managed by Peter Brown, who joined Renaissance from IBM research in 1993. As of April 2021, the funds have $165 million in assets under their management (inclusive of leverage).
Renaissance Technologies’ flagship fund, Medallion, has been generating over $100 billion in trading profits since its inception. The average annual return for the Medallion fund between 1994 and mid-2014 was 71.8%, before fees.
Awards and legacy
He was inducted into Institutional Investors Alpha’s Hedge Fund Manager Hall of Fame in 2008 along with Bruce Kovner, George Soros, and David Swensen.
In 2006, the Financial Times named him “the world’s most intelligent billionaire”. He was elected to the American Philosophical Society in 2007. He was also included in Bloomberg Markets Magazine’s 50 Most Influential List for 2011.
Gregory Zuckerman released a book, The Man Who Solved the Market by Jim Simons. It details Simons’ investing strategies and was published on November 5, 2019. In 2018, Trinity College Dublin awarded him with an honorary doctorate.
Current Net Worth and Influence
Forbes estimates that Jim Simmons is worth $24.6 million.
Forbes’ wealthiest Americans in 2020 list ranked Jim Simons 23rd with an estimated $23.5 million net worth. The Forbes 2019 list of the highest-earning hedge fund managers also includes Quant King.
Simons is a powerful figure in science and co-founded The Simons Foundation in 1994 with Marilyn Simons. Simons Foundation supports scientific research, education, health, and other related areas. Simons has donated more than $2.7 billion to this cause and to support autism research.
Jim Simons was the chair of the math department at Stony Brook University. He also served as a codebreaker during the Vietnam War.
Read | Jim Simons (mathematician)
The Wall Street Journal reported that investors questioned Simons about the remarkable performance gap in Renaissance Technologies’ portfolios. The Medallion Fund, which is only available to past and current employees and their families, soared 80% in 2008 despite hefty fees.
The Renaissance Institutional Equities Fund (RIEF), owned by outsiders, lost money both in 2008 and 2009. RIEF fell 16% in 2008.
On July 22, 2014, Simons was subject to bipartisan condemnation by the U.S. Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations for the use of complex basket options to shield day-to-day trading (usually subject to higher ordinary income tax rates) as long-term capital gains.
“Renaissance Technologies was able to avoid paying more than $6 billion in taxes by disguising its day-to-day stock trades as long-term investments,” said Sen. John McCain (R., Ariz.), the committee’s ranking Republican, in his opening statement.
According to a 2015 article in The New York Times, Simons was implicated in one of the most significant tax disputes of the year. Renaissance Technologies was “under review” by the I.R.S. for a loophole that could have saved their fund $6.8 billion in taxes over approximately a decade.
How do hedge funds make money?
Hedge funds make their money by charging management fees and performance fees. These fees vary from fund to fund, but typically they are 2% and 20% of the assets under management. This incentive fee encourages the fund’s ability to produce excess returns.
Hedge funds charge a percentage of the assets they manage. They are motivated to earn a high return because it directly increases their net worth.
Renaissance offers two portfolios for outside investors: Renaissance Institutional Equity Fund, (RIEF), and Renaissance Institutional Diversified Alpha.
According to Forbes‘s latest data, the 10 most successful hedge fund managers earn well over $500,000,000 per year. This includes up to $1 billion. Jim Simons, the current richest hedge fund manager, earned $1.6 billion in 2017.
Jim Simons is one of the most successful investors in the world, with an estimated net worth of $19.2 billion. After graduating from MIT with a mathematics degree in 1959, he became a math instructor at MIT, then an assistant professor at the University of California, Berkeley. He then worked as a professor at the University of California, Berkeley until 1974. He founded his hedge fund, Renaissance Technologies, in 1982.