Editor's Note

Highlights From SALT: Anthony Scaramucci Interviews Hedge Fund Legend Steve Cohen

May 11 2011 | 10:30pm ET by Deirdre Brennan

One of today’s highlights from the SALT Conference in Las Vegas was a rare interview with one of the top stars of asset management: SAC Capital’s Steve Cohen.

I admit, while I have been running FINalternatives for over five years I’ve never had the privilege of meeting Mr. Cohen or even listening to him speak in person, so I eagerly awaited Anthony Scaramucci’s one-on-one chat with him. I wasn’t disappointed.

Scaramucci, founder and managing director of Skybridge Capital, dove right in and tackled the elephant in the room—rumors of regulators investigating some of SAC’s trades—and Cohen answered graciously:

“Nobody likes that type of media scrutiny,” Cohen said. “We take compliance very seriously and the reality is we are going to cooperate with any and all investigations.”

With that out of the way, Scaramucci delved into Cohen’s background and we learned some interesting details about his firm, his background and his values.

“My father [who is 91 and still going strong] was big in my life, he was a larger than life person,” said Cohen, who began reading the financial pages at the dinner table when he was just 12 years old (after the sports pages, of course). Here are a few other tidbits from the fantastic one-one-one with the investment management legend:

  • SAC has 850 employees and manages approximately $14 billion
  • SAC has over 100 portfolios: “I’m only running 10% of the capital of the firm,” he said.
  • On judging his employees: “We use stats like baseball teams use stats,” he said, explaining that they look at wins and losses. “We try to keep it simple.”
  • On hiring managers: “We want someone with an identifiable, repeatable process that we can understand,” he said. The person must understand risk management and be able to scale his/her business, have new ideas and excellent management skills.
  • On the U.S. deficit: One of two things will happen, he said, “Democrats and Republicans will get together and force a solution, or the markets will do it. I prefer the first one… It is fixable and it will be fixed because the markets will demand that is it is fixed.”
  • On Philanthropy: “My wife Alex and I have been very lucky and we feel it’s important to give back… We like to focus on children and education…and also the military.”
  • On the future: The newly svelte 55-year-old Cohen (he admitted to losing 20 pounds) has no plans to retire any time soon. “I want to continue doing what I am doing because I enjoy it.”

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