Ioulia Tretiakova . Vice President & Director of Quantitative Strategies
P. 416 637-3578
REASON OVER PASSION…
I was born in St. Petersburg, Russia. St. Petersburg is a very beautiful city but difficult to live in. In 1999, my parents decided to emigrate. They felt that there were greater opportunities for us in Canada. Prior to our departure, I'd spent two years at the State University of St. Petersburg studying economic cybernetics. Essentially, economic cybernetics means the application of mathematical methods to economics. Fortunately, I was able to complete my degree in economics at the University of Toronto.
In 2001, I was extremely lucky to be hired by Mark Yamada when he was Managing Director of Guardian Capital Advisors LP. At the time, the firm had just begun to build their quantitative capabilities. Instead of having many analysts analyzing five or ten stocks, one builds a mathematical model that can scan thousands of stocks. The beauty is that the model does exactly what a hundred analysts would do but in a very efficient and inexpensive way. Initially, there was a lot of resistance to this method of analysis. I suppose this is understandable as it may be perceived to threaten peoples' jobs. It's still not a very common approach in Canada. It's much more prevalent in the United States.
Quantitative Analysis Makes Portfolio Managers Nervous
Quantitative analysis makes portfolio managers nervous because they like to know exactly where the information comes from and why you reach the results you do. It took several managers some time to accept that it wasn't voodoo or magic. It's just mathematics. And mathematical modeling must have an economic rationale behind it—something we can understand. In order to trust the results, you have to understand them.
I know my work sounds very complicated. Basically, I am always working with mathematical formulas or equations. I create a formula that will identify a pattern of behavior that may lead to an increase or decrease in the price of a stock or commodity. I use historical data to test the formulas I create. The data is drawn from over a 30 year period—which means that it shows how markets and stocks behaved under many different kinds of circumstances.
I met Mark at Guardian. At the time he was head of the Private Client Group. I was working as a quantitative analyst. I also built a risk model at the firm. You can't only look at the return potential of an investment you should also be concerned with controlling risk.
New York Was A Great Experience
After five years at Guardian, I decided to move to New York. New York is still the financial capital of the world. I wanted to see what it would be like to work in New York. If I was ever going to make the move, it was the right time in my life to try.
New York was a great experience. I joined a company called Alliance Bernstein. Alliance Bernstein was also a much bigger organization that Guardian. It's primarily an institutional investor with about a half a trillion dollars in assets. I ended up working on a very interesting project called ‘portable alpha'. This relates directly to our alpha and beta analysis at PUR.
I joined Alliance Bernstein on January 1, 2005 and left exactly 9 months later. I loved what I was doing and I loved the excitement of New York. Nevertheless, Mark persuaded me to come back to Canada. He had decided to set up PUR Investing and asked me to join him to help build the company.
I was flattered and excited when Mark approached me about PUR Investing. I had worked with Mark for five years at Guardian. I think he is an extremely talented manager. I really appreciated the freedom he always gave me to do my work. Mark is most concerned with the objectives and the integrity of the process leaving the mechanics and details required to reach those results to me. I was also interested in the opportunities PUR Investing offered. The corporate culture is not yet carved in stone. I will have a real opportunity to define the kind of company this will become. I think I'll actually have a chance to make a difference.
Another important factor in my decision was the quality of the team Mark had assembled. I've known Pat, Bruce and Mark for a number of years. I believe it's an incredibly complimentary team. I think very highly of these people. Actually, I think it would have been a very big mistake not to accept Mark's invitation.
My principal job is to develop our investment process. This is made more challenging and exciting because Mark actually understands the mathematics. Sometimes he sees things that I've missed. This probably has more to do with his wealth of experience than with any traditional training in mathematics. Nevertheless, it's a challenge to work for someone who can be so perceptive.
My greatest interest or specialty is quantifying risk. I'm very comfortable converting investment risk into formulas. From the very beginning I believed we should develop a solid risk model for our asset allocations. Risk models are not actually very popular in Canada. There could be a number of reasons for this. It could be simply that they require a significant learning curve. If Canadian institutions decided to use risk models they would certainly have to change the way they do business.
Each of us has a very specific role in the company. I develop the mathematical formulas or algorithms that will help us choose the best investments. Bruce is the platform wizard. It's his job to make sure the information is displayed accurately and appropriately. Mark and Pat develop the behavioral profiling models—among other things. They're the real communicators. Bruce and I understand the abstract languages of mathematics and coding. Mark and Pat translate that information into a language our clients will understand.