In 1994 the Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society, a leading scientific journal, published an unusual paper. Entitled “Making money from mathematical models”, it was authored by a young financial trader in London.
His name was David Harding, he was a Cambridge physics graduate and he used the paper to lay out what he saw as the “intellectual front line” of investment research. Harding’s idea was that finance could use science to identify and exploit inefficiencies in the markets.
He was right. Today Harding is worth about £1.3bn and, in the course of putting those initial ideas profitably into action, has become one of Europe’s leading financial entrepreneurs. His privately owned investment company Winton Capital (for which he reluctantly accepts the “hedge fund” label) manages $32bn of assets. When I take a copy of his Royal Society publication out of my briefcase, his face breaks into a slightly mischievous smile. “I’m terribly impressed that you have a copy of my one and only scientific paper,” he says.