David Winton Harding: The Science of Success
Not all of us gravitated towards the sciences in our school days, and indeed, some students tended to avoid science like the plague. One man, however, took the scientific method and adapted it to the domain of finance – and made a fortune in the process.
David Winton Harding has been at the forefront of systematic investing for a very long time, and it shouldn’t be surprising given his background. After graduating in 1982 from Cambridge University with a first-class honors degree in natural sciences specializing in theoretical physics, Mr. Harding observed that statistical inference and modern computing techniques could have applications for trading in financial markets.
It wasn’t long before David put these ideas into practice: in 1987, he co-founded Adam, Harding and Lueck, commonly known as AHL; to this day, AHL is still regarded as a pioneer in science-based, systematic research.
AHL was fully acquired in 1994, but that merely cleared the way for David Winton Harding to blaze his own path via Winton Capital Management (a.k.a. Winton Group), which he founded in 1997. Now a large-scale global investment management and data science company, Winton employs more than 300 people in eight offices around the world and manages approximately $30 billion of assets for many of the world’s largest pension funds, sovereign wealth funds, banks, and fund platforms.
For over 20 years now, Winton has differentiated itself by combining the best elements of the scientific method and advanced investment technology to get an edge in the financial markets. The firm’s manifesto, written by Mr. Harding himself, is a paper titled “Making Money from Mathematical Models,” wherein David expounds his guiding principles on science and its applications in the pursuit of alpha.
The result of David Winton Harding’s considerable investment in scientific research, data, and technology is a history of innovations ranging from new investment strategies and risk management tools, to the creation of a systematic data collection capability and enhanced research methodology. For Winston’s clientele, this translates to a range of intelligent, long-term investment strategies that evolve as markets change.
Not that it’s all about science for Mr. Harding – or money, for that matter. Indeed, David has made numerous philanthropic donations to causes related to the furthering of science, literacy, and education in the United Kingdom, and he is an honorary fellow of St. Catharine’s College, Cambridge. Additionally, David Winton Harding pledged £20 million in November of 2010 to Cambridge University’s Cavendish Laboratory to fund the Winton Programme for the Physics of Sustainability, which annually appoints scholars undertaking Ph.D.’s and advanced research fellows to perform independent research.
On top of all that, Mr. Harding has also endowed the Winton Professorship of the Public Understanding of Risk (a truly one-of-a-kind professorship fund) at Cambridge University, as well as the Harding Centre for Risk Literacy at the Max Planck Institute for Human Development in Berlin, Germany. David’s particular interest in the study of risk makes perfect sense in the contexts of science and especially finance, where risk control is of the utmost importance.
It all ties together quite neatly: math, science, risk management, and the building of wealth. The hypothesis has been tested and proven – in the life and work of David Winton Harding, the science of success is an ongoing and wonderful pursuit.