We've Never Been More In Awe Of Someone's Life Than We Are Of Quant Legend Pete Muller's

muller snowboard

Photo: Wikimedia Commons

The founder of Morgan Stanley’s profitable trading unit, PDT, Pete Muller is not your average Wall Street trader.It goes without saying he’s intelligent. But his quirks are more impressive. One of his favourite pastimes involves the New York subway.

Bloomberg Markets Magazine has an awesome profile out about the quant legend and Morgan Stanley rainmaker.¬†And this is what we gleaned: everything, from sports, to investing, to playing a tune, to eating (you’ll see why) seems to come easily to him.

Here’s how he does it.

Even in childhood, he was a maths whiz

Muller, whose father was a chemical engineer and his mother a psychiatrist, was 'named one of two class mathematicians' at his school in New Jersey.

In high school, Muller captained the Frisbee and Quiz Bowl clubs, and was part of the Model UN, German club and the honour Society.

Source: Bloomberg Markets Magazine

He graduated with honours from Princeton, and also had time to dominate the frisbee field

After high school, Muller headed to Princeton, where he graduated with honours.

He also had time to hone is already superb frisbee skills, and was 'a star on the Ultimate Frisbee team in 1983 when it won the mid-Atlantic open championship.'

But Frisbee wasn't the only sport at which he excelled: he was also 'a member of the Colonial Club, one of Princeton's famed eating clubs.'

Source: Bloomberg Markets Magazine

He is ridiculously smart, and impresses people fast

When he was working for a quant firm BARRA, he was 'soon presenting papers at client conferences, where he became a favourite, partly because he incorporated cartoons into the slides.'

Once, the firm was trying to solve a coding problem that they assumed would take about 6 months to fix. Muller fixed the problem in two days. He eventually created the BARRA Brainteaser, a monthly investment-related puzzle.

(Nowadays, the New York Times even has him write their crossword puzzle a few times a year.)

Source: Bloomberg Markets Magazine

He was so good, he was able to turn down an offer from Jim Simons Renaissance Technologies

When he was working for Barra Inc, Jim Simons' Renaissance Technologies was a client. Muller worked on a problem for them, and afterward, RenTec offered him a job.

Muller said no.

Source: Bloomberg Markets Magazine

He founded PDT in 1993 and made the unit into a tightknit, awesome unit inside Morgan Stanley

He's obsessed with secrecy and it's paid off

Since he founded PDT in '93, the desk has returned about 20% on average, annually, through 2010. And no-one really knows how he does it.

'Muller, who has had no outside investors to please, has kept the strategies and performance of PDT under wraps, stoking the curiosity and envy of rivals. Muller makes no apologies for his obsessive secrecy.'

Source: Bloomberg Markets Magazine

Every year, PDT has been profitable

'PDT has lost money in only two quarters since its inception and never in a calendar year, according to two people familiar with the matter.'

Even in 2007 and 2008, when other quants -- and trading groups in general -- were imploding, Muller steered PDT to two profitable years, even with some steep losses here and there.

Source: Bloomberg Markets Magazine

His team loves him -- he personally pays for team vacations

'Muller personally pays for weeklong vacations for the group to locales such as Grenada and Jamaica to celebrate good years. PDT off-site retreats have included white-water rafting in Maine and a paint ball competition in upstate New York.'

PDT staff stay with Muller on average, 7.5 years, so he's obviously good to work for. And he helps you make bank, obviously.

Source: Bloomberg Markets Magazine

He took a break Wall Street, went travelling for months, and came back

In 2001, Muller temporarily quit working full-time for Morgan Stanley, because he could 'no longer find happiness in the corporate world,' he said.

On his long break, he went 'kayaking in the Grand Canyon and trekking to the kingdom of Bhutan.'

Morgan Stanley is crying now that he's about to spin-off PDT from Morgan Stanley

Muller will spin-off PDT at the end of 2012, as part of Morgan Stanley's effort to comply with the Volcker Rule: freedom!

He will probably take about 60 others with him when he leaves, and the bank will keep a stake in the new firm.

One quant said of the spin-off: 'They have this wonderful machine that prints money. Now, they'll be using it to print money for themselves rather than Morgan Stanley.'

Read more at the Business Insider

Source: Bloomberg Markets Magazine

He's a strong athlete and does ashtanga vinyasa yoga

Muller practices ashtanga vinyasa yoga, a form of the exercise that incorporates synchronised breathing and is more vigorous than other styles, like Hatha.

Yoga isn't Muller's only sport of choice: he also snowboards and surfs.

Source: Bloomberg Markets Magazine

He is an amazing poker player

Quant king Muller has won a ton at the poker table and made the final table of the $3,000 Limit Hold 'em event at the 1998 World Series of Poker. He also came 4th at the World Poker Challenge.

He's still on the World Poker Tour, though he says he now mostly plays online and cash games instead of tournaments. He used to bring his dog to tournaments with him, as a good luck charm. Just last year he beat 104 other Wall Streeters to take a large pot at a charity tournament.

He's also a talented musician and loves to busk

He and his family (wife Jillian, two kids and their golden retriever) get to hang out here

This 7,000 square foot home is located in Montecito, California, and was designed by a design firm that counts the Four Seasons, Waldorf-Astoria, the CFO of Oracle, Derek Fisher and Barry Bonds among its clients.

He's respected by his peers

Muller isn't the only Wall Streeter who will beat you at the poker table >

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