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Is The Trading Floor Any Place For A New Mother?

An old-school hedge fund hotshot set off a firestorm saying that women traders lose their edge when they have children. The same goes for divorced dads. Is he right?

If you were busy planning your upcoming Memorial Day Weekend last week you missed a good, old-fashioned gender firestorm.

An old school trader really stepped in it when video surfaced of the fund manager saying that women lose their trading edge once they give birth.

Here’s what Paul Tudor Jones of Tudor Investments said at an off-the-record discussion on macro trading at the university of Virginia McIntire School of Commerce on April 26th:

"As soon as that baby's lips touched that girl's bosom, forget it. Every single investment idea ... every desire to understand what is going to make this go up or go down is going to be overwhelmed by the most beautiful experience ... which a man will never share, about a mode of connection between that mother and that baby. And I've just seen it happen over and over."

As expected, the outrage that greeted Tudor was fast and furious. So much so that the founder of Tudor Investment Corp. walked back his comments on Friday, stating: "Much of my adult life has been spent fighting for equal opportunity, and the idea that I would support limiting opportunity for any segment of society, particularly women, is antithetical to who I am and what I have done. My remarks offended, and I am sorry."

But is what the billionaire said what he believes and not permitted in polite progressive society or did he commit what columnist and Bloomberg opinion editor Michael Kinsley calls a "gaffe" when someone accidentally tells the truth?

Many female traders came forward to blast Jones for his ideas. Here’s a CNN interview with a trader and fund manager who is not only the mother of two children but is also the head of a successful fund. Lori Wachs, founder of Cross Ledge Investments, says that while many people have distractions at home they are able to compartmentalize and get the job done. She pointed to her own example:

Let's look at my fund for the past two and a half years which has beat the hedge fund equity index by 17 percentage points. So it’s hard to see that there was edge loss there. And the fund that I worked at Delaware Investments for 17 years, we were one of the top 10 money managers of small cap stocks in the country and we were cited as a Wall Street Journal category king. So no experience here.

Meanwhile, a columnist for Business Insider almost, sorta defended Jones' comments - or at least took the heat off of him and onto our modern society. "The problem we're addressing here is a social, structural issue having to do with gender and expectation. We're belittling it by pretending it's a problem with one man. PTJ was just plainspoken enough to talk about it in public from the perspective of someone who's trying to run a successful business," writes Linette Lopez.

Divorced From Reality?

It's interesting to note what Jones also said at the same panel discussion that has so far failed to gain the level of outrage let alone media attention. The salty yet soft-spoken Tudor recommends that you pull your money if your asset manager is going through a divorce.

Says Jones on the video tape: "... One of my No. 1 rules as an investor is as soon as my manager, if I find out that manager is going through divorce, redeem immediately. Because the emotional distraction that comes from divorce is so overwhelming. The idea that you could think straight for 60 seconds and be able to make a rational decision is impossible, particularly when their kids are involved. You can automatically subtract 10 to 20% from any manager if he is going through divorce."

Not to defend Jones but this is a man of a certain age (58) who clearly has set ideas about men, women, and marriage and how it can affect a worker’s performance. If you watch the clips, Jones is not against women working or even being on a trading floor - instead he sounds as if he demands precise attention and unwavering focus from his employees and co-workers. While we may not see attitudes like his outside of Mad Men or a tradition-bound church, Jones clearly has very high demands from his managers and their time.

What about you? Does your traders' gender matter? How important is their marital status? AT would like to know.

[Look out. New EU dark pool regs may bring collateral damage to the buy side.]

Phil Albinus is the former editor-in-chief of Advanced Trading. He has nearly two decades of journalism experience and has been covering financial technology and regulation for nine years. Before joining Advanced Trading, he served as editor of Waters, a monthly trade journal ... View Full Bio

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