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November 1, 2013

An Olympian Effort

Fort Lauderdale-based hedge fund Olympian Group is opening a new office away in the Big Apple, looking for yield and clients

By

Phil Albinus

Florida may be a haven for hedgefunds, but one fund based in Fort Lauderdale is expanding to the Big Apple. Olympian Group Investment Management, led by founder, senior managing principal and chief investment officer Michael J. Levas, is opening a new office in New York, where Levas will oversee roughly six new employees: traders, compliance and IT support personnel.

Why leave sunny Florida? Despite the Sunshine State's tax advantages, Levas says the move to Manhattan is a no-brainer. "This is still the financial capital of the world. When New York speaks and moves, the rest of the world follows," he told Traders Magazine.

Michael Levas

Levas started Olympian in 2003, and he says he is having a good year despite continuing turmoil in the European markets and a jittery economic recovery in the U.S. Levas says his global macro fund saw a return of 12.57 percent gross net of fees, which is 11.42 percent net for the month of September 2013.

What's his secret? "I really depend on the bond market and what is going on in the macro environment," Levas said.

Levas' New York plans include building out his funds to fulfill four strategic aspects: trading and research; alternative investments and hedge funds; asset management; and private capital and equity investment. His firm wants to help companies with IPOs, he said.

And unlike social media and Web 2.0 firms, Olympian is not looking for recent graduates from MIT, the Wharton School or Cornell University to fill out the trading desk. "We're looking at bringing on very talented people who are going to be trading, and we're looking to start another fund," Levas said.

Although Levas has used algorithms and dark pools in the past, he is pulling away from these trading tools that he once relied on from his brokers. Further, he has seen a profound change in the relationship between the buyside and sellside since the crash of 2008. "The sellside are now technology providers to the buyside," Levas said.

"There are some great firms that have great research. They have the North American research, the LatAm, Asia and so on, but you have certain boutiques that have specialized stuff," he said. "And that is their advantage."

When it comes to high-frequency trading, Levas is no speed demon. "I'm a DMA guy. I put my limit orders in, and I let that market come to me. I price that market on a daily basis, and I say 'OK, this is a security I am likely to buy or sell and this is the price I want,'" he said. HFT doesn't matter much to Levas, because he's not holding that stock for three seconds before selling it. "I don't care if something gets executed in the millisecond," he said.

 

 

OLYMPIAN GROUP

AUM: N/A

Desk: 3 traders

Broker list: 5

Avg. Commission: N/A

OMS: Multiple trading platforms from brokers

 


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