John M. Liew

Founding Principal
25 years of experience
20years at AQR
Ph.D., M.B.A., University of Chicago
B.A., University of Chicago

John's Bio

Jump to Three Questions with John

John, a Founder and the head of the Global Asset Allocation team at AQR, oversees the research, portfolio management and trading associated with that strategy. Prior to AQR, he worked at Goldman, Sachs & Co. as a portfolio manager in the Asset Management Division where he developed and managed quantitative trading strategies. He began his career at Trout Trading, developing quantitative market-neutral stock-selection strategies. John has published articles in The Journal of Portfolio Management and Financial Analysts Journal, and has received the Bernstein Fabozzi/Jacobs Levy award and the Graham and Dodd award for his articles. John is a member of the University of Chicago’s Board of Trustees and sits on the university’s investment committee.


He earned a B.A. in economics from the University of Chicago, where he was elected a member of Phi Beta Kappa, and went on to earn an M.B.A. and a Ph.D. in finance, also from Chicago.

 

Notable Contributions

  • Winner of the Bernstein Fabozzi/Jacobs Levy Award for his research.

  • Winner of the Graham and Dodd Award for his research.

  • Member of the Board of Trustees of the University of Chicago.

  • Member of the University of Chicago's Investments Committee.

 

Three Questions with John

Twenty years ago, what did you hope to accomplish when you founded AQR? 

I wish we could say that the 20-year plan from day one was to be a $200B asset manager. Unfortunately, given the inherent volatility in our industry, it’s impossible to plan at that horizon. When we started AQR, our hopes were much more modest. We felt like we were onto an approach to investing that was good and novel, and we felt like we could build a business around doing this. It brought together the combination of being able to do work that we found really fascinating with the excitement of doing something that could be commercially successful. That combo was really appealing to us!

 

What's your proudest moment or biggest accomplishment in your 20 years at AQR?

All too often in our industry I see firms look at who’s making money and say, “If those guys are making money doing that, we can too.” One of the things that I’m most proud of is that we’ve never taken this kind of a “me-too” approach to building AQR. We’ve always tried to think from our first principles about what we’re good at and how we can utilize our comparative advantages to create investment products that both help our clients and that aren’t already being done elsewhere. I believe this approach has led to some truly innovative ideas.

 

Why does AQR publish its investment research?  Shouldn’t you keep these ideas proprietary?

I think a big part of it is our academic roots.  In academia you’re supposed to share insights, and that ethic stayed with us even after we went to Wall Street. In the early days, writing academic papers felt like something we were not supposed to do at work, so we did it on the weekends because we thought it was fun. However, as the years have gone by I feel like the body of published work has had a hugely beneficial impact on how the world views AQR. It’s a bit ironic that if there were one golden rule of being a quant money manager, it is that you should keep your good ideas secret. In a way, AQR has been an experiment where you do the exact opposite of what you’re supposed to do, and it’s turned out to have been a really good thing for us.

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