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Rating:A History Buff Helps a Quant Shop Court Institutions Not Rated 0.0 Email Routing List Email & Route  Print Print
Wednesday, December 12, 2012

A History Buff Helps a Quant Shop Court Institutions

Reported by Tommy Fernandez

David Baeckelandt is a history buff. He actually can't get enough of it. With both a bachelors and masters in the subject, he has published over 50 articles on such subjects as Japanese financial history, the nuanced artwork in Hawaiian financial documents and even the immigrant Flemish community in Chicago.

He can go toe-to-toe, in colloquial Japanese if you like, with the best on scripophily, possessing perhaps one of the nation's largest collections of Chicago antique stock and bond certificates and the largest private collection of Japanese stock and bond certificates.

This love for the obscure, for the deepest, most nuanced details that others usually ignore will do him well in his new job, as the newly hired managing director for institutional sales and client service in the soon-to-be-launched Chicago office of equity quant manager O'Shaughnessy Asset Management.

His job: aggressively grow and establish the institutional franchise of the drill down numbers firm to a population that may not have the same keen fascination with tiny details.

Like many equity quant firms, OSAM took some punches during the financial crisis of 2008. The firm manages 10 different institutional strategies, some of which are also packaged in '40 Act form: including global equity income, domestic all cap and domestic small-mid cap growth funds.

Baeckelandt will help OSAM reach out to such targets like direct contribution plans, direct benefit and public pension funds, among numerous other plan sponsors and other institutions.

"We want to become much more proactive as an organization with telling our story and presenting our strategies to plan sponsors and consultants," O'Shaughnessy president and chief operating officer Chris Loveless told MFWire. "This is a big goal -- there are a lot of plan sponsors and consultants out there. Bringing Dave will help us a lot. This will help us manage the process of reaching out to all of them, instead of the process managing us."

One of the big pillars in Baeckelandt's strategy is leveraging OSAM's in-depth quant research to win over the consultants and other experts who help plan sponsors make their decisions. He has experience in this area, having run the Analytics & Research Group at Mercer Investment Consulting for over three years.

"O'Shaughnessy spends as much as any world class investment consultant on research," he said. "If you are a salesperson, that is very exciting."

Apparently, O'Shaughnessy's approach to research seems to dovetail well with Baeckelandt's love of history. He said that OSAM spends a lot of time and money studying the obscure details and drivers of the history of the markets to find what has worked in the past and what works in the future.

"Very few firms have delved very deeply into the history to really think through what has worked in the past. Instead, most kind of look at historical data and sift through it to fit some preconceived persecutive," Baeckelandt said. "This is the only firm that I have encountered that has this approach." 

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