The stock market principle of buy low and sell high might be easy to comprehend for the average person dabbling in stocks, but when you're partner of a new business that is touted as being on the cutting-edge of quantitative funds technology like Carlson School alum Kendal Beer is, you're on an entirely different level of comprehension.
Beer, '08 BSB, directs the business and operations of New York City-based Presagium LLC, a three-year-old, quantitative fund start-up. By simple Wall Street definition, the company is a Commodity Trading Advisor that strives to capitalize on momentum and reversion in the market (the buy low, sell high principle). Where it's unique is that it trades in the currency market, where very few funds do, and it trades on a very small time scale where trades are held for mere minutes to hours.
Add in that Presagium has designed and built its own proprietary infrastructure, algorithms (all math-based, thus quantitative) and strategies to monitor and capitalize on global currencies and, well, those in-the-know have heralded the company as cutting a new path in a rather niche area.
"There's something incredibly empowering about being on the line for how a business performs," says Beer. "And being with something that's been identified as unique, there's a lot of promise behind that. When I joined last year we had $2 million in assets and now we're at $50 million. So we're still a start-up, but people are excited about us.
"A lot of my day to day is thinking of our future processes: What happens when we're at $250 million? What happens when we have 50 investors? What do our processes need to look like at that point, who do we need to partner with, where are the key relationships? It's getting systems in order such that we're scalable."
No stranger to 'the quants'
Beer was recruited to Presagium after a successful stint at UBS in New York where she worked in Program Sales Trading dealing with mutual funds, big pension funds, and insurance companies. The UBS job came via the Carlson School Funds Enterprise's annual New York Trek where she was first identified as a promising recruit and later offered an internship which turned into a full-time position.
It was at UBS where she was introduced to quantitative strategies. "I learned to use a lot of algorithmic tools, learned about different businesses, and that was my introduction into the business of quantitative finance and how 'the quants' work," she says.
So while she's on the business side of things at Presagium, she's no stranger to quantitative trading, which makes her a great fit with the team--a team made up of her, two founding partners, and support from PhD students from a local university.
"They're an impressive group of guys," she says of her partners, one of whom, a former UBS executive and friend of Beer, lured her to Presagium.
"We're new and different, and when we speak to potential investors, that's what we hear back: 'Wow, you're doing something unique.'"
'I make a mean butter cream frosting'
Beer says she has a tendency to go for things that are challenging: First the Carlson School, then UBS, and now Presagium.
"But it all started at the Carlson School. My experience was that we have great business exposure, great training, and we learn applied concepts. I felt prepared," she says. "The experience said that: Look, people are going to rely on you for this kind of stuff. Having the expectation ingrained says that you're not going to be some cog but a leader."
She also says that she has an entrepreneurial spirit within her, which led to the question:
So, what might come of that?
"I make a mean buttercream frosting," she says, with a wry smirk. "I'm in the middle of a feasibility cost study of what that business would look like."
You want to start a bakery?
"No, retail is tough business," she says. "I think I need to cut my teeth on something I can wrangle and understand, so maybe it's some sort of production or manufacturing."
But before any of that, Beer says she first wants to go out on a high at Presagium and see her processes work and grow. Then she'll delve into the entrepreneurial route with an MBA somewhere along the way.
Given her track record, chances are her stock will keep on rising with whatever she decides to do next.