Benedict Ho’s passion for trading dates back to when he was a kid watching the early 90s Hong Kong TV show, The Greed of Man, an epic drama about a duel between two families played out through the stock market. Ho fulfilled his childhood career aspirations. He worked for MCP Asset Management for nine years, overseeing the trading desk for its single hedge fund business. He then spent three years in charge of the investment arm of Fubon Bank in Hong Kong.
In August 2018, Ho teamed up with former Qualcomm sales director Michael Wong to co-found MaiCapital, a Hong Kong-based hedge fund manager specialising in blockchain and cryptocurrency investments. “The total market cap for all crypto assets was only around $200bn when we started our firm. That’s really tiny compared with $8 trillion for gold and $80 trillion for global equity, so there’s lots of space to grow. We believe cryptos will become a new asset class that no investor can ignore in the next 10 years, and the market cap for cryptos will be many times larger than now,” says Ho, who is MaiCapital’s CEO.
The firm’s flagship Blockchain Opportunity Fund, a long-short absolute return fund that deploys quantitative trading and arbitrage strategies, has generated a return (before fees) of more than 100% since its inception in March 2019. “We’re different from most funds in the cryptocurrency space, which focus on long only. When the market crashed in March 2020, with Bitcoin plummeting over 50% intraday, our fund didn’t suffer from any drawdown that day thanks to our hedging strategy,” says Ho.
MaiCapital plans to launch two more funds in 2021 and wants to reach $100m in assets under management by year-end. The firm employs four other people aside from Ho and COO Wong, including a chief security officer, portfolio manager, quantitative analyst, and compliance officer. Ho says he expects to hire three or four more people this year to handle an increased workload. “We’re looking to add some staff in quantitative trading and also fund accounting to cope with the new product launch and to enhance our trading strategies,” he adds.
Ho says he’s very open to candidates from banks. “I think it’s easier to source talent from the sell side rather than the buy side in Hong Kong because the workforce in banking is much bigger than in asset management,” he explains, adding that he also likes to recruit people who are referred by current employees.
If you want to join MaiCapital, Ho advises you to be “flexible and pro-active at work”. “We’re doing something new and we often need to invent a solution ourselves. There are not many precedents we can follow, so our employees often need to think out of the box. I believe autonomy in the workplace is the best management policy. We’re flexible in working hours and people can choose to work from home. We don’t have a dress code and people are free to voice out their ideas,” says Ho.
The crypto sector will be affected by both increased consolidation and compliance this year, says Ho. “I expect to see more regulations coming in 2021. It used to be a wild west in cryptocurrency trading, and there are still many companies who don’t worry about compliance and AML/KYC processes. This is going to change in 2021. And with more costs in compliance, I think we’ll see a consolidation in the industry,” he adds.
Ho, who has a computer engineering degree, is confident about the year ahead for his firm. “I think I can do better than other fund managers, because I have investment experience and a technical background. As a portfolio manager, I combine the skill sets of these two worlds,” he says.
Photo by 𝓴𝓘𝓡𝓚 𝕝𝔸𝕀 on Unsplash
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