Robert Lavin has spent 30 years trading for institutions, customers, government agencies and himself, but may have found his niche with the recent relaunch of commodity trading advisor Vallen Advisors. Lavin initially launched Vallen in 2009 but shut it down after two years to pursue more lucrative opportunities in consulting.
The program came about by accident in the first place as Lavin launched it after leaving Fort L.P. He was hired by Fort to help build short-term trading models to complement their successful and growing longer-term programs, but redemptions because of the fallout of the credit crisis (not in Fort’s programs, which weathered the crisis well) forced them to cut back.
“The goal was to build new products for those guys,” Lavin says. “Unfortunately when the crisis hit they had about $900 million in assets and favorable liquidity provisions led to redemptions and a lot of assets went out the door.”
Lavin liked what he built and decided to offer it as a separate program. It wasn’t his first rodeo; he ran a successful short-term CTA, Sage Capital, in the early 1990s. He left there to take a job with Sallie Mae, where he traded a $10 billion bond portfolio for the government-sponsored entity managing student loans.
Lavin has had many stops at significant firms over the past three decades, but found a home in the Washington, D.C. area, where he operates out of Leesburg, Va.
He was head swap trader for Security Pacific Bank in the mid-1980s when no one knew what a swap was and went on to build hedging strategies for Citicorp.
He also had stints as managing director for GMAC and the Blackstone Group before being named director of market risk for Fannie Mae, where he was when he was tapped by Fort to develop their programs.
“I always was in trading. Most of the time I was managing positions for corporations or trading for customers,” he says.