“Futures traders and computer programmers share many similarities, the most obvious is their talent for deciphering information. Alejandro Knoepffler, principal of Cipher Investment Management Co. in New York, can attest to this firsthand. Comparing his first job as an Apple II computer programmer at Shearson American Express to his present profession, Knoepffler says he still relies heavily on his deciphering skills. “Everything I have done for the last 20 years is applicable to what I am doing now,” Knoepffler says. With a bachelor’s in engineering systems and a master’s in operations research, Knoepffler began his managed futures career developing systems for Mint Investment Management Co. Following his six years with Mint, in May 1991, Knoepffler joined Metallgesellschaft (MG) Corp. as a consultant to trade proprietary money and build a money management business. After the MG debacle, the firm focused on its core metals and energies business and closed all New York operations, including Knoepffler’s money management division. MG’s woes led to a new beginning for Knoepffler. “If nothing would have happened at MG, I would still be there trading their accounts,” Knoepffler says…Cipher’s trading diversifies between individual markets, market sectors, systems and time horizons, which include short-term (about two weeks) and medium-term (about two months). While Knoepffler believes diversification is his systems’ best attribute, he also says it’s the Archilles’ heel. “Diversification is great, but you have to be able to manage it.”
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