Quant funds look past the obvious for uses of alternative data

Many systematic investors are sceptical but a few are finding ways to make new data work

Depending on who you ask, alternative data is either the future of investing or a fad. Tom Howat, chief technology officer at quantitative fund Cantab Capital, summed up one view at a recent conference: “There’s so much hype and hokum around this idea of alternative data that companies are just hoovering up these insane datasets and bundling them all together, and it’s a waste of time actually. It’s a waste of my time.”

Talk to other systematic funds – some of the first to adopt new data – and

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