Two Sigma Investments LP may be setting itself up to do well in China by doing good, with the help of a financial innovation training program the New York-based quantitative hedge fund manager launched this year with the Wharton School and Shanghai-based Ping An Group's OneConnect financial technology arm.
Kenny Lam — a Wharton graduate Two Sigma lured away from Shanghai-based money manager Noah Holdings Ltd. in April to lead its Asia-Pacific operations — played a key role in forging the three-party initiative.
"I knew Ping An for a long time," and when they reached out with an interest in setting up a program on the Chinese mainland offering high-level training in financial innovation and data analytics, Wharton — which just opened a data analytics department in May — and Two Sigma quickly signed on, Mr. Lam said in an interview.
The Gamma Star program's initial iteration — with 150 students selected from 450 applicants — took place over the course of eight full weekends this summer.
Wharton professors took care of the theory, while executives from OneConnect and Two Sigma shared "battle-tested case studies" on their experiments in financial innovation and applications of data science, machine learning and artificial intelligence in the investment process, Mr. Lam said.
Students included recent graduates from leading Chinese technology programs and a smattering of domestic regulators, he said.
Mr. Lam, while conceding that training an advanced guard of Chinese data scientists and innovators could eventually benefit Two Sigma's own efforts to build up its capabilities on the mainland, said "we haven't linked the two yet."
Mr. Lam said recruitment for next summer's second annual Gamma Star program will likely begin in February. — Douglas Appell