One woman blew away her hedge fund peers in 2015 using her own money

When South Korean-born hedge fund manager Melissa Ko came to the US as a teenager, she couldn’t speak English.

She excelled in maths, graduated from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and made a name for herself as an emerging markets trader on Wall Street.

This year, she’s one of a small handful of hedge fund traders who killed it in what’s been an incredibly underwhelming year for the industry, The Wall Street Journal’s Rob Copeland reports.

Ko, a former Bear Stearns managing director, runs Covepoint Capital Advisors, a New York-based family office hedge fund focused on trading in currencies and interest rates.

According to the Journal, her fund has gained 120% this year betting against the euro, the Australian dollar, and the Brazilian real. Ko has made $60 million, bringing her own personal wealth north of $100 million, according to the report. She used leverage, using borrowed money, to increase the returns on her investments, the report said.

With those sort of returns, Ko is certainly a standout in 2015. Hedge funds have fallen 3.72% this year on average, according to data from Hedge Fund Research.

Maths whiz

Ko was born in Seoul, South Korea, and moved to the US at age 13. She graduated with a degree in chemical engineering from MIT in 1990, and earned an MBA from UPenn’s Wharton in 1994.

She worked for Citigroup on the emerging markets currency trading desk, and also had stints at Bankers Trust, Deutsche Bank, and hedge fund Blue Border Partners. She joined Bear Stearns in 2002. There, she founded what’s now Covepoint in 2005. The fund managed around $2.4 billion in assets at its peak.

In 2008, Covepoint was spun out of Bear with around $1 billion in assets. In 2013, Covepoint returned outside investor capital and became a family office.

We’ve reached out to Covepoint for comment.

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