Old school ties aren't that old

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Ewan Kirk

Hedge fund managers tend as a group to be loyal donors to their alma maters.

But some hedge fund managers aren't waiting to give back to their old colleges. Instead, they're doing so much earlier in their careers by allying with top-notch universities, gaining access to the brightest professors, cutting-edge technology and a ready recruitment pool of newly minted Ph.D. holders.

With Ewan Kirk's background — Ph.D. in mathematics from University of Southampton, master's in advanced studies in applied mathematics from University of Cambridge and undergraduate degree in natural philosophy and astronomy from University of Glasgow — it isn't an accident that he chose Cambridge, England, for his corporate headquarters.

The global macro hedge fund firm, Cantab Capital Partners LLP, even is named for the slangy nickname for a Cantabrigian, a member of the University of Cambridge. Mr. Kirk is executive officer, chief investment officer and founding partner of the 6-year-old firm, which is close to closing its flagship strategy at $4 billion.

“Through our association with Cambridge, we have access to great people and great technology, which is as important as the people when you're managing a systematic strategy,” Mr. Kirk said. “Common wisdom says "if you're building a factory, you should build it next to the raw materials' and that's what we did.”

This article originally appeared in the October 29, 2012 print issue as, "Old school ties aren't that old".