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Ex-ATP CEO Stendevad hired as one-year Fellow at legendary hedge fund

Former Chief Executive at Denmark's largest pension fund, ATP, Carsten Stendevad, has been hired as a Senior Fellow for a one-year period in one of the world's most successful hedge funds.

Chief Executive at pension fund ATP, Carsten Stendevad, resigned last year in order to move to the US due to serious illness in his Indian-American family-by-marriage.

Since then, there has been speculations about what his next position might be.

However, hardly anybody would have guessed that the former CEO of one of the biggest pension funds in Europe, with more than DKK 750 billion (approx. USD 106.6 billion) in assets, would accept what some describe as an "internship".

Last night it was announced that Carsten Stendevad during the coming year will be a "Senior Fellow" at the Connecticut-based hedge fund Bridgewater Associates.

An odd workplace

Going from the top of ATP to an employment on probation at an American hedge fund might sound odd. Be it said, Bridgewater is actually an odd workplace.

The hedge fund was founded by American investor Ray Dalio in 1974, and has since then grown into the most successful hedge fund in the world. Bridgewater has not only delivered the biggest returns to investors, but also been pioneers in a number of investment philosophies that have been imitated by many other institutional investors. This includes the strategy of separating market returns from positive additional returns, or alpha, and establishing "all weather" portfolios that should deliver positive returns, both when markets and economists advance or decline.

Dalio and Bridgewater also made a name for themselves in 2007, when the asset manager gave clear warning that a big financial crisis was coming, and managed to a wide extent to steer its investors clear of the subsequent massive losses when the global financial crisis hit.

Bridgewater is at the same time known for being a somewhat odd workplace. Some call it a cult, while Dalio himself prefers to describe Bridgewater as a cross between a 1970s hippie collective and the American Navy SEALs.

For the same reason, it its also a workplace with a high turnover of staff. Every year, approximately one-fifth of the 1,600 employees leave the company, which is, however, also known for hiring a large number of newly qualified analytics.

Radical honesty and transparency

Dalio places great emphasis on what he calls "radical honesty and radical transparency". This means, among other things, that any employee is allowed to mercilessly criticize any investment proposal, and that all internal meetings are recorded on video and made available to all employees.

Spirituality is also a key factor to Dalio, and among other things he offers all employees free classes in  Transcendental Meditation, of which he is an avid practitioner himself.

This is evidently not a working culture for everyone. As recently as March 1, Dalio announced that one of the three co-CEO's. Jon Rubinstein, is leaving Bridgewater again. He came to teh company less than a year ago, and he did not have a background as an investor, but he was the man behind the development of Apple's Ipod and Imac. However, he did not "fit in culturally", as Dalio disclosed in a post on Linkedin.

"Carsten Stendevad, former CEO at major Danish pension fund ATP, joins Bridgewater as part of our new "Bridgewater Senior Fellowship Program", which will gather exceptionally qualified people into Bridgewater for one year in order to study our work culture and share their expertise and insight. We expect a limited number of such distinctive people will join our program in the future," Dalio wrote.

Commuting to Connecticut

This new job means that Carsten Stendevad will be commuting a lot. He currently resides in the Washington DC area, while the Bridgewater headquarters are situated in rural Connecticut, north of New York City.

Even though Dalio is still sole proprietor of Bridgewater Associates, he has always placed great emphasis on everybody's right to challenge his investment decisions. Being 67 years old, he is also increasingly withdrawing himself from his managerial tasks. He does this in order to i.a. donate his money.

It is estimated that Dalio possesses a personal net wealth of DKK 112 billion (approx. USD 15.9 billion), making him the 30th most wealthy American, and the 69th most wealthy person in America. However, he has promised Microsoft founder Bill Gates to donate  more than half of his personal fortune to charities.

English Edit: Marie Honoré

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