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Wednesday, May 20, 2020

An Ex-MF Chief Joins an AI-Driven Shop

Reported by Neil Anderson, Managing Editor

A veteran distribution fundster and former asset management CEO has joined an artificial intelligence-driven asset manager. Watch for them to debut their first funds this year.

Ryan Faulk Willson
Creighton AI
Partner, Head of North America
Ryan Willson confirms that he joined Creighton AI (CAI, i.e. Creighton Capital Management) in February as a partner and head of North America. The firm is based in the San Francisco area (where Willson is based) and in London. Next up, the CAI team is preparing to launch their first fund, a long-short global equity market neutral hedge fund, in early June. After that, they're planning a long-only mutual fund version of the systematicstrategy.

"Our hope is that we launch a long-only fund sometime in the fourth quarter of this year," Willson tells MFWire.

Jim Creighton launched his eponymous firm about 14 years ago after serving in senior investment leadership roles around quantitative strategies at Northern Trust, Deutsche, BGI, and Trafalgar.

"He has developed a machine learning algorithm which essentially takes 30 years of market history and analyzes individual stocks," then predicts which stocks should do well and which stocks shouldn't, Willson says. For a while now, Creighton has been offering the algorithm as an overlay for other asset managers. Last year CAI started subadvising an Australian fund, and now the CAI team is prepping their own funds here in the U.S.

Willson, for his part, hails from the mutual fund and separate account world, on the long-only size. He previously led Lateef Investment Management until the firm sold in 2017. He sees traditional long-only investing as being under "a tremendous amount of fee pressure."

"I was interested in finding a strategy that is really differentiated, and I believe that's what Jim Creighton and his team have developed," Willson says.

An alumnus of USC, Willson worked on the FA side with Dean Witter and Merrill Lynch, then founded his own shop, before joining Lateef in 2000 as head of business development. He later rose to partner and CEO. 

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