New Quants Are Focusing on Artificial Intelligence

There is a new breed of “quants” that are looking to disrupt the industry using artificial intelligence (AI), according to a recent article in Institutional Investor.

One such fund is Numerai, started by 30 year-old South African Richard Craib, who thinks AI will “lower the cost of fund management, producing savings that can be passed on to institutional and retail investors.”

While typical quantitative investment firms use people to build systematic strategies, Craib and his firm Numerai “intends to teach machines how to do that,” according to the article. Renee Yao, a Ph.D. in math and statistics, founded statistical arbitrage hedge fund Neo Ivy Capital which uses neural networks and deep learning to develop algorithms to train computers to “find alpha,” she says. “People need rest and can’t work 24 hours a day, seven days a week. A computer can.”

Craib and Yao, the article says, are among a growing number of AI-focused entrepreneurs with a view toward offering a “lower-cost product covering the most efficient parts of the market.” According to Boston Consulting Group partner Ben Sheridan, the typical quant firms are also exploring ways to cut costs in a machine-driven way, but change is slow. The article concludes: “Sheridan expects the age of AI to deeply change investing, but just how—and  benefiting whom—remains an open question.”