By industry estimates, about $2 trillion is invested in global hedge funds. And as anyone familiar with Wall Street should know, the lion’s share of that cash is managed by men.
But women are carving out a bigger piece of the hedge fund world. According to The Hedge Fund Journal, women were running about $100 billion of that total in 2011 — and when COOs are included along with researchers and executive teams, that total moves up to $200 billion. True, 10% of the total isn’t a lot to crow about — we are hardly at a place where the industry is truly “equal opportunity.” But considering Wall Street was exclusively a man’s world just several decades ago, it is worth noting that women are indeed on the rise.
So who are the most influential female hedge fund gurus, and just how much money do they manage, directly or indirectly? Here’s a list of five women in leadership positions at some of the most respected hedge funds in the world — some of which they built with their own hands:
Mina Gerowin, Paulson & Co.
Mina Gerowin is Managing Director at Paulson & Co. Europe — yes, that Paulson. This woman is lieutenant to superstar hedge fund chief John Paulson and the $30 billion-plus under management at this shop. Gerowin was one of the first women to break into the male-dominated hedge fund scene, becoming the first female hire in history for storied financial firm Lazard in the mid-1980s. She joined Paulson & Co. in 2007 and now heads several funds there.
Leda Braga, BlueCrest Capital
Leda Braga is president of BlueCrest Capital Management. The firm as a whole manages about $18 billion in funds, and about half of that is in Braga’s flagship BlueTrend Limited fund that she plots based on the quantitative research of her team. She is by all accounts one of the smartest in the business, with credentials that include a Ph.D in engineering and a stint at JPMorgan (NYSE:JPM) before joining BlueCrest in 2001. As of last year, she held the title for the female fund manager with the most assets under management ($8 billion for BlueTrend in 2011) and could very well lead the industry again in 2012.
Maria Boyazny, MB Global
In 2010, Maria Boyazny ended her 13-year tenure at Siguler Guff (a hedge fund with $10 billion in assets currently under management) where her fund alone ran as much as $4 billion. Why? To be her own boss. Boyazny launched a new firm called MB Global Partners — where she currently is CEO — that invests in corporate debt, mortgage debt, commercial real estate and other “distressed” opportunities. Boyazny has an MBA from Columbia and a B.S. from Wharton, and she worked in corporate finance at Smith Barney.
Dorothy Collins Weaver, Collins Capital
Dorothy Collins Weaver is one of the most experienced women in the hedge fund space. She has been chairman and CEO of Collins Capital Investments, which manages multi-strategy funds-of-funds, since 1995. Before that, Weaver was president of Intercap Investments, a residential and commercial real estate investment firm, and she was a former chairman of the board for the Federal Reserve Bank of Miami. That’s quite a pedigree! Currently, Collins Capital manages almost $1 billion in assets — but Weaver still finds the time to serve as director of Texas-based construction firm Austin Industries.
Sonia Gardner, Avenue Capital
Sonia Gardner is the current president and managing partner of Avenue Capital, a firm she co-founded in 1995. Avenue is a massive player in the hedge fund world, running assets worth about $13 billion as of March. Gardner has focused on distressed assets for more than two decades with great skill, and she has helped build the firm up. But Avenue isn’t the only firm Gardner helped get off the ground — she also previously co-founded Amroc Securities. She is well respected in the investing world and was the recipient of the 100 Women in Hedge Funds’ 2008 Industry Leadership Award. Gardner also serves on the executive committee of the board of directors of the Managed Funds Association and is a member of the board of trustees of The Mount Sinai Medical Center.
Jeff Reeves is the editor of InvestorPlace.com, and the author of “The Frugal Investor’s Guide to Finding Great Stocks.” Write him at editor@investorplace??.com or follow him on Twitter via @JeffReevesIP. As of this writing, Jeff Reeves did not own a position in any of the investments named here.