10 Best-Paid Hedge Fund Managers in 2020

The pandemic year of 2020 was terrible for millions who lost their jobs and faced sudden poverty, but it wasn’t disastrous for everybody. For some like hedge fund managers, it was even outstanding.   

The top 15 titans of the trading floor earned a combined $23.2.4 billion in 2020. Due to the high volatility of stock markets, hedge funds could earn more than in previous years. Regardless of economic turmoil, they managed to make piles of money.   

The 10 highest-paid hedge fund managers made a record $18.4 billion in 2020 in comparison to over 13.3 billion in 2019, according to a report from Bloomberg. The increase was approximately 40%. In all likelihood, such big gains will draw criticism and questions not only from the public but also from lawmakers. The GameStop controversy is likely to increase concerns over fairness in financial markets and displease the public even more. 

top-earning hedge fund managers 2020
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Let’s have a look at Bloomberg’s annual list of 10 top-earning hedge fund managers for 2020.

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1. Charles Coleman - $3,000,000,000

Hedge Fund: Tiger Global Management

Fund Return: +48%

By raking in $3 billion, Chase Coleman III has been recognized as the highest-paid hedge fund manager for 2020. He runs Tiger Global Management, a hedge fund that had invested in tech companies whose stocks spiked during the pandemic, such as Zoom or Peloton. Interestingly, by returning 48% in 2020, Coleman’s hedge fund far outperformed the U.S. stock market, gaining approximately 16%. 

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2. James Simons - $2,600,000,000

Hedge Fund: Renaissance Technologies

Fund Return: +76%

James Simons is the founder and manager of Renaissance Technologies, mathematician, and philanthropist. To make investment gains, he uses mathematical models and algorithms. 

The pandemic year of 2020 was really outstanding for Medallion, one of Renaissance Technologies’ funds, available only to current and former partners. Medallion fund climbed 76%, making 2020 its best year ever. 

Nonetheless, for other RenTec funds that are available to outsiders, 2020 was the worst year ever, especially for the Renaissance Institutional Equities Fund and Renaissance Institutional Diversified Alpha. The former fell 22.62 percent, whereas the latter lost  33.58%, according to Institutional Investor.

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3. Israel Englander - $2,200,000,000

Hedge Fund: Millennium Management

Fund Return: +26%

Israel Englander founded Millenium in 1989 with $35 million. He is Chairman, CEO, and Co-Chief Investment Officer of Millennium. According to the Millenium website, “delivering high-quality returns requires unyielding focus, continually adapting to dynamic conditions and actively pursuing market opportunities.” By gaining 26% in 2020, Millennium Management Global Investment had the best performance in 20 years. Bloomberg underscores that the hedge fund oversees $48.5 billion and returned at least $8 billion to investors at year-end.

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4. Kenneth Griffin - $1,800,000,000 (Tied)

Hedge Fund: Citadel

Fund Return: 24%

Kenneth Griffin is the founder, CEO, Co-Chief Investment Officer (Co-CIO), and majority owner of the hedge fund called Citadel with $34 billion investment capital. Citadel, as an investment firm, invests capital across five core strategies: equities, macro, quantitative strategies, commodities, and credit.  

In 2020 Citadel’s flagship fund, Wellington returned 24.4% that is its best end result in eight years, according to Clearbrook Global.

The year of the pandemic was turbulent for Ken Griffin, but after the February-March tanking, his hedge fund bounced back and finished the year with an impressive end result. 

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5. Stephen Mandel - $1,800,000,000 (Tied)

Hedge Fund: Lone Pine Capital

Fund Return: 23%

Stephen Mandel is the managing director of Lone Pine Capital and former hedge fund manager. Prior to founding Lone Pine Capital in 1998, he worked as the managing director at Tiger Management. Mandel is the 316th richest man in the U.S. with a net worth is $2.8 as of 2021, according to Forbes. As a former Tiger Management employee, he belongs to a prominent group of hedge fund managers called “Tiger Cubs” mentored by Julian Robertson - “The Wizard of Wall Street”. 

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6. Philippe Laffont - $1,700,000,000

Hedge Fund: Coatue Management

Fund Return: 65%

Philippe Laffont heads Coatue Management, a hedge fund that invests in technology-based companies. Before founding Coate Management in 1999, he worked at Julian Robertson’s Tiger Management LLC as a research analyst, and thus he is called Tiger Cub. By betting on Tesla and Wirecard, Coate Management gained over 52% in 2020, according to Financial Times.

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7. Steven Cohen -  $1,600,000,000

Hedge Fund: Point72

Fund Return: 17%

Steven Cohen is not only the founder and hedge fund manager of Point72 Asset Management but also the majority owner of the New York Mets of Major League Baseball. He possesses one of the world's most valuable private art collections with over $1 billion value. 

In 1992, Steve Cohen founded one of the best-performing hedge funds ever, SAC Capital, which eventually became defunct and paid $1.8 billion in penalties due to insider trading charges. In 2014 SAC Capital was converted into Point72 Asset Management, which reopened to outside investors in 2018 after a two-year ban from the Securities and Exchange Commission, according to Forbes.

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8. Jeffrey Talpins  -  $1,300,000,000 (Tied)

Hedge Fund: Element

Fund Return: 19%

Jeffrey Talpins is the founder, Chief Executive Officer and Chief Investment Officer of the hedge fund, Element Capital Management focused on macro investing. He increased the value of assets under Element’s management from $250 million to $17 billion by using strategies targeted at staying ahead of the world economic changes and trends. Since its inception in 2005, Element posts annualized return of 21% what makes it one of the best performing hedge funds. By betting on the effectiveness of the coronavirus vaccine last year, the fund scored a gain of 18.8% and proved that even the pandemic year can be successful, according to Forbes.

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9. William Ackman -  $1,300,000,000 (Tied)

Hedge Fund: Pershing Square

Fund Return: 70%

William Ackman is the founder and CEO of Pershing Square Capital Management. Starting with $54 million, he founded his hedge fund in 2003. In 2014, Ackman launched a closed-end fund, Pershing Square Holdings Ltd, on the London Stock Exchange to become the constituent of the FTSE 100 Index. In the turbulent pandemic year of 2020, publicly-traded Pershing Square, outperformed other hedge funds earning a record net 70.2%, according to Institutional Investor

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10. Daniel Sundheim - $1,100,000,000

Hedge Fund: D1

Fund Return: 54%

Daniel Sundheim is the founder and Chief Investment Officer of an investment firm, D1 Capital Partners L.P. that allocates institutional investors’ capital in private and public markets. Its investment strategy is focussed on long-term and medium-term returns by investing in the following sectors: technology, business and financial services, media, healthcare and telecom, according to Bloomberg. Prior to establishing D1 Capital Partners, Dan Sundheim was a CIO of the hedge fund Viking Global Investors

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