Two 20something money managers launch a new hedge fund in Fort Worth

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Two 20something money managers launch a new hedge fund in Fort Worth

Mona Reeder/Staff Photographer

Updated: 12 July 2014 06:25 PM

There are plenty of new hedge fund managers trying to make a name for themselves on Wall Street.

Then there are two 20-something money managers who are building their firm from scratch from an office in Fort Worth.

“We put the business in D-FW because we see D-FW as becoming a financial hub in the long term,” said Patrick Browder, co-founder, president and chief compliance officer of Browder Capital. “There’s a lot of money here and the local economy is thriving. We see a lot of potential investors in the area.”

Launched in 2013, Browder Capital now manages an $11 million hedge fund.

From the start, Patrick Browder and co-founder Robert Sunleaf set out to launch an atypical hedge fund in contrast to negativity associated with the industry in recent years.

For starters, the minimum investment for its fund is $50,000, making it more accessible and appealing to investors looking to diversify and willing to take on more risk, Sunleaf said.

The fund is also structured as a separately managed account, which means investors have their own brokerage account and can access account information at any time. Clients also can deposit and withdraw their money without a penalty, unlike traditional hedge funds that limit redemption.

Overall, Sunleaf said the fund’s structure provides clients liquidity and full transparency.

Browder Capital also takes a flat management fee based on the investment size. The firm takes no performance fee, unlike most hedge funds.

“The days of traditional hedge funds with overcharging extra fees, that underperform and that don’t have transparency, I think those days will be gone,” Browder said.

For hedge fund startups, it can be a tough market.

In 2013, 1,060 hedge funds were launched, according to Hedge Fund Research. Nearly as many closed last year, with 904 funds liquidating their assets, a record since 2009, according to HFR.

The competition is also as stiff in the Dallas region as it is on Wall Street. Some of the largest alternative asset managers are based in North Texas.

While Browder Capital’s fund is still relatively small, it has succeeded in the area that counts most in the investment world: performance.

Browder Capital’s equity long-short fund outperformed the market and its peers last year. The fund returned 57.3 percent after fees, while the benchmark Standard & Poor’s 500 index rose 29.6 percent.

Meanwhile, Browder Capital’s peer long-short hedge funds with assets under $20 million returned 12.6 percent in 2013, according to alternative investment research firm Preqin.

The two managers met in Dallas while working at a major tech company.

There, Browder, 27, spent several years working in operations and finance. The Grapevine native said that for as long as he can remember, he wanted to be an investment manager.

He used his own money to trade and used proceeds from a company he sold in college to test his investment strategy. That strategy became the backbone for Browder Capital.

Browder Capital actively sells and buys securities, using proprietary algorithms to guide its trading. It does not employ high-frequency trading, which uses super-fast computers to complete transactions.

Two 20something money managers launch a new hedge fund in Fort Worth

Sunleaf, 25, worked in accounting, finance and supply chain management. While at Xavier University, Sunleaf also helped manage the student investment fund.

Sunleaf mainly handles operations and client relationships, while Browder focuses on trading and research.

But neither manager had worked at a hedge fund previously.

They knew it could be a big risk to launch a hedge fund as new investment managers. To raise capital, Browder and Sunleaf reached out to friends, family and business associates. They have also attracted money by word of mouth.

The fact that the two managers are in their mid-20s also can be a challenge.

“What we are able to demonstrate in performance makes up for that,” Sunleaf said. “People are investing in us because they believe in our strategy.”

Age also has been an advantage, Browder said.

“A good number of clients are excited about the fact that we’re younger and we still have the experience in developing our strategy but we haven’t been morphed by the big trading houses. We don’t do things the same way, and most people like that.”

Since the fund’s inception, no investor has left or withdrawn money, Browder said.

In less than two years, Browder Capital is already considering expansion. The firm hired a third person to handle existing clients and find new ones.

The firm also is opening a second office in the Tampa/St. Petersburg, Fla. area in mid-August. Browder is relocating to Florida to establish the office, raise money and deal with clients.

“We want to grow in Texas. Florida is the next-best option,” he said.

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