First of all, how are you and your family doing in these COVID-19 times?
Stefan Tittel: We’re doing well, and I am feeling blessed that my family and team are all healthy and safe. At the moment, I’m focusing on what matters most – spending quality time with those close to me. Usually, I would be travelling quite a bit (especially to New York), but this has all been replaced by Zoom.
Tell us about you, your career, how you founded Quantumrock.
Stefan Tittel: I was born in Berlin and began my career at Siemens. At 27, I founded my first business – Crossgate, a Global Business Network Provider for electronic data exchange and invoicing with subsidiaries in Germany, the UK, France, Italy, and the U.S. The company was later acquired by SAP AG in 2011.
Having gone on to establish several more successful fintech companies (which were also subsequently sold to larger players in the industry), the concept of leveraging the latest technological innovations to improve and automate the delivery and use of financial services has always interested me. The idea for my latest venture Quantumrock came about when I couldn’t seem to find a convincing solution to address a core problem in financial markets – how to heighten investment performance and lower risk during times of high market volatility. So I decided to use AI and ML software to solve it!
How does Quantumrock innovate?
Stefan Tittel: By its very nature, working with AI and ML means continuous innovation as you’re always researching, learning new methods, making new predictions, etc., so that is one way we innovate. Another way we’ve embedded innovation in the organization is through the culture we’ve cultivated. We’re open-minded, creative, and adventurous, and we work without hierarchies where the only constant changes. From finance and trading professionals to research scientists, our team is composed of individuals from a variety of backgrounds to encourage diversity of thought and new ways of thinking.
How the coronavirus pandemic affects your business, and how are you coping?
Stefan Tittel: As well as serious implications for people’s health, COVID-19 has significantly impacted businesses (both small and large) and major economies around the world. Operationally, the national lockdown and restrictions on international travel have made it harder for the team to meet with clients, potential investors, and one other but technology has been essential in helping us find new ways of working and interacting. In particular, Zoom has been efficient and is now the new normal for us.
Did you have to make difficult choices, and what are the lessons learned?
Stefan Tittel: One of the biggest lessons I’ve learned during my career is that it pays to hire the right people. The team at Quantumrock has been great at adapting to a new way of working (whether that be at home or in the office). Fortunately, we were spared making really difficult choices as our flagship VSOP strategy has performed strongly over the course of the year, and we’ve seen an increased appetite from investors in systematic strategies such as ours, which are geared towards protecting downside risks, as well as offering crisis alpha capabilities.
How do you deal with stress and anxiety?
Stefan Tittel: Exercise has always been a great stress reliever for me, particularly martial arts. I’ve also been spending more quality time with my family and friends.
Who are your competitors? And how do you plan to stay in the game?
Stefan Tittel: While there are a few firms out there involved in the same line of work as Quantumrock, we truly believe our approach to pure AI application sets us apart. Certainly, AI continues to be touted as a force set to transform the sector, but it is fair to say that many in the investment management world still do not truly understand it, so the concept is largely used as a marketing device. A highlight for 2020 was our flagship strategy (VSOP), being awarded the best volatility fund at this year’s HFM European Quant Awards 2020, which is a testament to our exceptional performance.
Your final thoughts?
Stefan Tittel: The difference is made not only by you but also by the people you hire. Always go for the best.