The 2019 CTA Challenge – December Commentary

CTA Challenge 2019 – Year End Wrap Up

The top 5 ranked programs in the current CTA Challenge are neck and neck as we approach the end of 2019. We started with 90 programs this year in the CTA Challenge and the focus has come down to the top 5 in these final days. Taking a sneak peak into December live performance, we see that all 5 top contenders are still really close and no clear winner can be identified yet…it is going to come down to the risk-adjusted analysis we derive after year end. Stay tuned! Final 2019 rankings will be published by the end of January 2020.

Lessons Learned & Optimism For 2020

2019 is coming to an end and the investment world is already gearing up for 2020. Taking time to reflect on the past 12 months, there are a few key things we were reminded of this year, paving the way for a great start to the next decade.

~Cyclical behavior might be predictable in nature, but not in timing or in magnitude. A good industry friend has this saying that, for a farmer going through a drought, “every day I wake up is one day closer to rain”. I can sympathize with that optimism but it makes me wonder about the relationship to my investments. Sticking with a losing trade might only seem like a good idea if I have a comfortable, measured stop in place or if I have some sort of premium information that the market will turn in my favor. Without any of that, I run the risk for nothing other than learning a tough financial lesson. An emotional relationship with a losing trade or some sort of stubborn attachment, born from the idea that I cannot be wrong, will be the path to ruin. I believe in the cyclical natures of certain investments that have repeated themselves time and time again in historical charts. What I don’t believe is the idea that I can necessarily predict or wait for history to repeat itself while bearing the brunt of a loser. Be diligent and smart with your investments, make changes when appropriate, and use stops to provide protection when something isn’t working.

~Take the chance on something new. When looking at investments, it is not always the best practice to stay in the same thing because it is familiar or because you have been with it for a long time. This isn’t family or personal relationships, your investment portfolio is all business. You are the President and CEO of your own investment portfolio and you should not be sitting down and taking a backseat to its growth and its protection. Get involved, learn something new, listen to others who are successful and take chances you can afford. You are the driver of your life and your investments, so take control of the wheel.

~What goes up will come down. Performance might seem stellar for any single investment in the short term but don’t let that fool you into putting all of your eggs in one basket. Diversification is a tried and true tool for any investment portfolio. Whether it is a single hedge fund, a hefty mortgage, or a plethora stocks and mutual funds in a retirement account (i.e. all stock market), any concentrated investment is bound to retract and take your nest egg with it unless your portfolio has proper diversification. Look to alternative investments offering returns that are non-correlated to the global economy as a diversifier to the standard long-economy traditional investments. Managed Futures (programs offered by CTAs) and Global Macro programs are the most obvious investments offering little or no correlation to the general economy.

~2020 begins a new decade. Yes, you heard that right. New year, new decade, new you, new me. Let’s make it a great one…a roaring one!

2019 Snapshot – Only A Few Days Left!

Of the 90 liquid alternative investment programs participating in the 2019 CTA Challenge, we have seen performance range from -40% to +127% ROR since January 1st (gross performance numbers). Just like the futures market prices, the performance moves for CTA managed futures programs have been all over the place.

2020 Participant Preview

We have 110 alternative investment programs already confirmed for the 2020 CTA Challenge. Participating programs have investment account sizes ranging from $50,000 up to $25,000,000. There are market specialist programs trading around only one futures contract as well as global diversified market programs trading over 100 different futures contracts. We have intraday, short term, medium term and long term holding programs. There are systematic and discretionary approaches, some quantitative/technical and some fundamental, with primary strategies deployed in trend-following, arbitrage, global macro, breakout, risk parity, risk premia, volatility or multi-strategy themes. Programs of all shapes and sizes, trading exclusively futures markets, are encouraged to participate.

The CTA Challenge at a Glance

The unpredictable nature of futures market price moves, both in direction and size, require CTAs to employ hefty risk controls if they want to protect customers from large losses in their investment accounts. In the CTA Challenge, we take a risk-adjusted approach to analyzing and ranking CTA programs to ensure we are evaluating performance and risk numbers achieved as well as performance and risk exposures. We are evaluating “what actually happened” and also looking at “what could have happened”. See below for the most recent top 5 ranked programs year-to-date in the CTA Challenge.

2019 CTA Challenge:

Final Rankings Will Be Available At The End Of January 2020


Top 5 Ranking Through The End Of November

#1: Quantica Capital AG / Managed Futures Program *QEP*

#2: County Cork LLC / Acclivity Program *QEP*

#3: Emil Van Essen LLC / Global Tactical Allocation Program *QEP*

#4: AG Capital Investments LLC / Discretionary Global Macro Program

#5: Automaton Trading LLC / Diversified Program *QEP*

See the full current rankings here

CTAs interested in participating, or investors interested in learning more about CTAs and Managed Futures investment strategies, should contact Coquest and the CTA Challenge by Clicking Here.

Featured CTA

Emil Van Essen LLC (EVE) is a Chicago-based CTA that trades physical commodity futures with a main focus on calendar spread trading. In recent years, EVE has expanded its product offering to include a multi-strategy program and a long-short program. The CEO and Founder, Emil, has over 25 years of futures trading experience, has been a member of Mensa, has won awards for achievement in mathematics, and has authored two books on systematic futures trading. Click here to learn more about this CTA.


Featured Sponsor

Gate 39 Media is a financial services marketing and technology agency providing complete solutions for the financial industry since 2001. Gate 39 Media serves commodity trading advisors, hedge funds, introducing brokers, and alternative investment firms through solutions designed to raise AUM and build brand awareness. These solutions include custom pitchbook presentations, website development, tear sheets, collateral, branding, and more.


Upcoming Events – Mark Your Calendars!

MFA Network 2020

January 27-29, 2020

The Loews Miami Beach Hotel, Miami Beach, FL

Context Summits

January 29-31, 2020

Fontainebleau Hotel, Miami Beach, FL

CTA Expo / Emerging Manager Forum

April 22-23, 2020

Stewart Hotel, New York, NY


2019 CTA Challenge Sponsors