By Nicolas Parasie
The Abu Dhabi Investment Authority added another senior hire to its in-house data analysis and artificial intelligence team, set up by the sovereign fund to develop new investment strategies.
The world’s third-biggest wealth fund, known as ADIA, hired Alexander Davidovich, a veteran software developer who previously worked for Goldman Sachs Group Inc., Morgan Stanley and JPMorgan & Chase Co., according to a spokesman for ADIA.
Davidovich will start in his new role in the quantitative research & development department this week and build a technology platform from scratch for ADIA. The rainy-day fund has amassed just under $700 billion in assets, according to estimates from Global SWF and the SWF Institute, with a mandate to funnel the government’s oil surplus into foreign holdings.
Data scientists are increasingly in demand from state investors including Singapore’s GIC Pte and Canada Pension Plan Investment Board, as developments in areas such as machine learning hold out the promise of finding patterns at a much larger scale to hone trading expertise. Norway’s wealth fund is meanwhile looking into hiring forensic linguists after bringing in sports psychologists on board to gain an edge.
In ADIA’s case, the creation of what the fund calls its “science lab” was a response to the advent of big data and the transformation of global financial markets by advances in technology. It falls under the fund’s strategy & planning department and currently has about two dozen employees.
Abu Dhabi’s largest sovereign fund has in the past year been building a internal laboratory comprised of quants and scientists whose primary role is to develop methods to digest large amounts of data, according to the spokesman.
Its other hires include Cornell University professor Marcos Lopez de Prado, Anders Svennesen — who previously worked at Danske Bank Asset Management and Danica Pension — and Stephen Malinak, former chief data and analytics officer at Truvalue Labs.
The team’s principal aim is to research, test and eventually implement fresh investment approaches for the fund. In the future, its research may be used to improve other aspects of ADIA’s investment management process and possibly influence the decision-making around the fund’s long-term strategies.
As part of its push to adopt a more science-driven approach, ADIA is increasingly targeting people from outside the financial world with backgrounds in science, technology, engineering and mathematics. The fund is exploring partnerships with academic institutions, the spokesman said.
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