Bill has clients all over the world. Most of his contacts are made through emails, but his favorite way of meeting people is still face to face. In his younger days, when he was a security salesman, he would always go to see his business partners face to face. It is a much better way to communicate. Bruce asks if many people think differently about the subject because the younger generation is used to communicating via text messaging. Bill thinks that using messaging is not as effective as personal communication because messaging systems have a character limit. Bruce thinks that people react to people completely differently when they are face to face in comparison to when they are using messaging systems. When people meet in person, they do not just look at you as a client, they also begin to see you as a friend.
Bill has an annual meeting that he calls “The Best and the Brightest” where he discusses new concepts with interns. Julian H. Robertson Jr. from Tiger Management opens up the summer series of this event. 24 interns attend this meeting with Julian. There are about 500 summer interns around the world. Potential applicants can apply at UBS.com. This is a fantastic opportunity to meet some of the brightest people in the world. Next week the cofounder of Serious Satellite Radio will be speaking to the interns.
20 years ago there were not many people who knew what a hedge fund was. Bill made his first investment in a hedge fund during 1983 in order to support his oldest son in the future. Thanks to his investment, his son lives independently in Sacramento.
Bruce asks Bill what a hedge fund is. Anyone who wants to learn more about hedge funds should do a Google and search for Alfred Winslow Jones. A hedge fund is basically a safe insured investment which prevents you from losing too much in case your investment goes bad. The key to hedge funds is your net exposure. Most hedge funds average a next exposure of 30 to 40 percent. The net exposure is the difference between your longs and your shorts. The lowest net exposure that Bill has seen is 10 to 15 percent. Right now these markets are extremely volatile, so they are hugging close to shore.
In the real estate business, there are major changes in business rules that occur every month. Bruce feels that a hedge fund manager would need to have a crystal ball in order to predict how the market is going to change, because it can change very quickly. Bill says that hedge funds are a large global industry and that it gets a bad representation from the press. However, some of the world’s best investors such as Julian Robertson and Warren Buffet have been involved in hedge funds.
Bruce asks Bill how someone becomes involved in running a hedge fund. Most hedge fund managers have a good undergraduate education, they have are well educated in mathematics and accounting, some work experience, and they often go to popular business schools like Stanford or UCLA before going back to Wall Street for more experience.
Bruce asks if companies like UBS get their investors involved in some of the hedge funds. Bill says that UBS does do this.
Bruce asks Bill what hedge funds are typically invested in. Bill says that long-short equities are a great way to make money. People who do long-short equities try to find the best companies in the world and then they buy them. They also try to identify the worst companies and invest against those companies until they break down.
Bruce asks Bill what the difference is between hedge funds and real estate investment trusts. REITs are longer term investments. REITs assemble various commercial real estate properties, and then those properties are used for giving investors dividends. Bill likes hedge funds because they invest broadly around the world. Hedge funds also give the investor the ability to invest in countries that aren’t being hurt economically and financially.
Bruce asks Bill about how hedge funds are regulated. The new administration has made it clear that they plan to have all hedge funds register with the SEC. Hedge funds deal with prime brokers who are affiliated with investment banks and all of those prime brokers are regulated as well.
Bruce asks if Bill thinks that there is more regulation coming. Bill does think that there is more regulation coming, because of the recent problems that have come up.
Under the previous administration, hedge funds had the option to register with the SEC, but very soon they will all be required to register with the SEC.
Bruce asks if people are required to have a net worth requirement before they are allowed to invest in hedge funds. The two classes of hedge funds investors are 3C1s and 3C7s. The 3C1 has a minimum net worth requirement of $1 million dollars and certain liquidity requirements. The 3C7s have a minimum net worth requirement of $5 million dollars. Many hedge funds being created right now are adopting the 3C7 structure.
Hedge funds are allowed to freely invest in other countries. The investors travel the world.
Bruce asks if Bill has met some of the smartest people in the world. Bill has met some very interesting entrepreneurs. Bill suggests that anyone who wants to learn more about great investors should read “Julian Robertson: A Tiger in the Land of Bulls and Bears” and “Soros” by Michael Kaufman.
Bruce asks if people who invest in hedge funds are allowed to ask for their money back. Most hedge funds have a one year lock up, and then a quarterly liquidity after that which requires prior notice to get out of investments. They are not a market fund. They only use a portion of your assets. A lot of the best hedge funds are moving to a 2 to 5 year lock up.
Bruce asks how bad situations, such as the one with Bernie Madoff, affect the willingness of people to take on risk. Bernie Madoff was a massive blow to investors. Investors are now requiring more transparency from hedge funds.
Bruce asks if there was much speculation that occurred in the hedge fund world. Bill says that there was a large amount of growth in the Funds of Funds Business which may have gotten ahead of itself, but Bill thinks that most people who invest in hedge funds are sophisticated.
Bruce asks Bill what he thinks hedge funds are looking to invest in now. Bill thinks that the greatest opportunities in life occur when there are the greatest problems. Right now, hedge funds are looking for companies who are being penalized by the market. This is creating many opportunities, and there are multiple new hedge funds being created in Manhattan.
Bruce asks if investors around the world are more or less willing to invest than Americans are. Bill thinks that what makes America great is that we attract the best people from all around the world. He thinks that if everyone is agreeing then everyone is wrong.
Bruce asks Bill what he was able to take away from his experience during the Vietnam War. He says that there is no better place to learn about leadership than the U.S. military. Tough times create a tough individual.
Bill is involved in many non profit organizations. Bruce asks if the wealthy are very generous towards causes. Bill says that they definitely are. People with great wealth always give back to society when asked.
For more on UBS, visit UBS.com. Thank you Bill for a great interview.
Bill Richards entered the business in 1973 and joined UBS in 1995. As a Senior Client Relationship Manager in Hedge Funds, Bill manages the global relationships for UBS with some of the world's largest Hedge Funds. He works with over 105 Tiger Clubs which collectively run 125 billion dollars and represent one of the largest concentrations of overall Hedge Fund money in the world. He met Julian H. Robertson, Jr. of Tiger Fund in 1983 and continues to cover Julian for UBS. In 2006, Bill traveled to New Zealand, Australia, Brazil and Europe with Hedge Fund Clients of UBS. Bill thinks "we are still in the very early days of The Hedge Fund business and that it is one of the most important structural changes ever to hit the Asset Management Industry". He favors Long/Short Equity Hedge Funds which are based on the model first introduced by Alfred Winslow Jones in New York in 1949.
Bill has lectured at various Universities as well as at The United States Army War College. He was an Infantry Lieutenant in combat in Vietnam in 1969-1970. He spoke Vietnamese and served as a U.S. Army Infantry Advisor to the Vietnamese Military on The Cambodian Border. His non profit affiliations include The Vietnam Children's Fund (built 43 schools in Vietnam), iMentor (www.imentor.org) and The All Hallows School. Bill is an active supporter of 100 Women in Hedge Funds (www.100womeninhedgefunds.org). Bill is also part of the internal Speakers Bureau of UBS and a strong supporter of the Learning programs. Each summer, he runs the UBS speaker series called "The Best and The Brightest" and brings in 15 legendary managers speak to our Summer Interns in New York.
Bill appears on CNBC on Squawk Box, Power Lunch and in a year end "Outlook for 2008." Bill is also featured in a documentary called “Wall Street”, directed by Andreas Hoestli. The New York Magazine described this documentary as a worthy detailed investigation of how Wall Street operates.
Bill enjoys hosting private dinners with clients and takes this opportunity to further enhance his relationships with high profile clientele. He graduated from Denison University in 1967. He lives in Manhattan and rides horses at his farm in Upstate New York on week-ends. He collects art, rare books and wine.