(Bloomberg) -- Schonfeld Strategic Advisors dismissed 15% of its workforce to cut costs after scrapping deal talks with Izzy Englander’s Millennium Management earlier this week.
Among the highest-profile departures is Ben Melkman, a trader who scrapped plans for his own firm in order to join Schonfeld earlier this year.
About 150 employees were told Wednesday that they’re out of a job, according to a person familiar with the matter. Schonfeld, which started the week with a staff of about 1,000, is mostly cutting non-investment roles. Most of those affected worked for the technology team, which handles information technology, automation and support for portfolio managers. The move also affects other back-office positions.
On Tuesday, Schonfeld abruptly ended talks with Millennium over a potential partnership deal after months of negotiations. Schonfeld, a multimanager firm overseeing $11.7 billion, backed out after securing as much as $3 billion in verbal commitments from other investors. That would help replace the $2.3 billion that clients yanked so far this year.
Read More: Schonfeld Ends Millennium Talks in Call to Fellow Billionaire
The job cuts affect 10 people with investing roles, including five portfolio managers, and at least some were attributed to underperformance, said the person, who asked not to be identified because the information is private.
Among the senior departures are Niamh Taylor, the firm’s head of Europe, the Middle East and Africa, who joined in June 2022, and Russell Hartley, co-head of the region for the fundamental equities unit, who was hired in 2019, according to the person. Hartley’s responsibilities will be assumed by his fellow co-head Alex Codrington.
Schonfeld is also severing ties with Seven Eight Capital, which invested some money for Schonfeld.
Melkman’s departure comes after after he shuttered his $1 billion hedge fund, Light Sky Macro, and axed plans for a new firm to bring his strategy to Schonfeld. He had joined the firm in March as a senior portfolio manager in its discretionary macro and fixed-income business. Schonfeld is focusing more on reducing concentration risk and backing money managers who can scale assets and trade with less directional exposure, said people familiar with the firm’s thinking.
A representative for New York-based Schonfeld declined to comment. Melkman said he and the firm mutually agreed to the departure.
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Schonfeld’s funds have barely made money this year, with the main hedge fund up more than 1% through October and the equity fund up more than 2%.
Many so-called pod shops such as Schonfeld — with teams that wager on a variety of markets — try to optimize the ratio of money-managing talent to non-investing personnel. The former group earns more for the firm, and costs tied to those employees are often passed on to clients. About 270 of Schonfeld’s 1,000 workers were portfolio managers or analysts, and the recent job cuts reflect an effort to improve that ratio.
Schonfeld went on a hiring binge in recent years, expanding teams and office space as assets grew to $14 billion at the end of 2022. This year alone, the firm brought on at least 20 investment professionals to its macro and fixed-income business — run by Colin Lancaster and Mitesh Parikh — which debuted early last year. By this September, it had about 60 people globally.
The hires came amid an industry talent war, marked by multimillion-dollar signing bonuses.
Lancaster is being promoted to head of EMEA and moving to London from Miami. He will keep his title of co-head of discretionary macro.
Read More: Schonfeld Halves Fee to Lure Hedge Fund Clients Into New Lock-in
Steven Schonfeld’s firm also has been looking to lock up investor cash for longer to help provide more business stability. Its main hedge fund currently allows clients to pull cash monthly.
In September, it began trying to woo investors in its other equity fund to accept new terms that would mean it would take them as long as two years to withdraw cash. The fresh $3 billion in capital is in a drawdown facility, and once put to work, that investor cash will be locked in for three years.
--With assistance from Nishant Kumar and Erin Fuchs.
(Updates with Schonfeld’s fund performance in 10th paragraph. A previous version corrected the story to note that Seven Eight Capital doesn’t exclusively manage Schonfeld’s money)
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