Symmetry Fund is a cryptocurrency based investment fund which allows investors to invest across a broad range of existing and new cryptocurrencies.
The goal of Symmetry Fund is to create a way for investors to invest for the long term in cryptocurrency in an environment where the market is rapidly changing and many new coins are being introduced.
The fund’s premise is that by investing in a fund that arbitrages opportunities across cryptocurrencies of a certain market cap and regular volume, investors can benefit from the massive uptick in the overall value of the cryptocurrency market globally while minimizing the risk of holding any one coin. How it works is simple; an investor in the fund will buy SYMM. This will be invested in a pooled fund that will pay monthly dividends. Funds are also audited by a third party. Funds not in active trade will also be stored in fiat currency, in regular bank accounts.
We recently sat down with Andrew Lewin, the CEO of Symmetry Fund to have a chat with him about the project as well as finding out his thoughts and insights.
Hi, Andrew. Thanks for joining us today. Can you tell us more about yourself and Symmetry Fund?
Thanks for inviting me. I’m Andrew Lewin – CEO of the Symmetry Fund. I’ve worked in classic fund management for many years, including stints at Franklin Templeton Investments, Baillie Gifford, and Credit Suisse. During that time I developed a number of unique quantitative algorithmic trading strategies for cryptocurrency trading and it’s this experience that’s led me to partner on a cryptocurrency fund that’s less risky and less complex for investors who have been looking to get in to cryptocurrency/ICO investment, but were, up to now, perhaps a little bit wary due to the complexities of trading in these types of investments.
Obviously you use Blockchain as a core feature of this service. Why did you decide now was the time to take the jump into this technology? And why Ethereum?
The idea of a cryptofund came to me and my co-worker Harald Hantke in April when we became aware of some significant moves in the market. We had plans to launch in Aug-Sept, but it took a while to get the right team with key players, research what was involved, especially with regards to legislation and regulation. After that, it was a matter of picking the best type of Blockchain to run the ICO.
We looked at NEM, Next, and ETH, but didn’t see the support in development with NEM. After a brief call with Next, we realized that they were developing a new system, but there were no concrete plans for any new development. We knew that ETH was the safe choice for most ICOs and we believe strongly in Vitalik’s idea and vision. So that’s why we decided on ETH for our own contracts.
Tell us about how you came up with the idea of Symmetry Fund.
Everyone is interested in cryptocurrency investment, but not everyone has the knowledge needed to make informed investment decisions, so we decided to bring to the market a new, unique product. Backed by our strong knowledge of how mutual funds work and over 30 years of experience, we knew this would appeal to these types of investors.
Did you face a problem within the industry or do you think there is a gap in the market for Symmetry Fund to fill?
The crypto market is still very young, with massive volatility and unpredictable shifts. But this is really due to a lack of regulation from government bodies. If only a matter of time until they step in and introduce controls. In fact, it’s already happening. All of this will bring about the typical market conditions you see with other investment products. That’s when our expertise will really come to the fore.
What do you think is the biggest problem Symmetry Fund will solve and why is the problem important to solve?
Complexity is one reason, but, also, most existing cryptofunds charge at a set percentage of portfolio value annually. This is a very old school way of doing things. It doesn’t matter how the fund performs, they still get their cut – good for the managers, but not great for investors. That’s why we designed our fund to be performance based. We only get paid when our investors do well.
Editors Pick: Symmetry Fund ICO
Despite all talk of a bubble, the cryptocurrency market is still on a roll and going strong. To quote Forbes, 2018 will be the year of cryptocurrency. As they point out in a recent article on the topic, XRP (the cryptocurrency of Ripple blockchain) has more than tripled since Christmas.
You going to invest only in tokens with a certain market cap and volume – how does that equate with your decision to invest in ICOs? How will you select those?
Even Ethereum was an ICO once. Choosing which ICO to put money in involves a lot of work and research. Nine out of ten ICOs right now are simply utopic ideas that probably will never come to life, so even if they offer 60% discount on their tokens, these could be very bad investments. With the ICO investments we look at, we talk to the team, listen to their idea, the vision, examine the roadmap. Obviously, we want to make sure that the ICO will come to fruition and will be successful. What we’re looking for mostly is an existing product that needs further financing to really deliver rewards – something that will work for the long term. Although we will be keeping an eye out for some innovative new coins that might require further development – a little more risk, but also, potentially, a lot more upside.
Tell me more about your investment strategy?
By employing a number of traditional investment house strategies, we’ve achieved above 50% annually. While these numbers may look relatively small in comparison to current market performance, they are realistic, offer relatively low risk, and, in terms of the wider financial markets, represent outstanding performance. Current market conditions are perfect for a mixed fundamental-momentum investing strategy.
As with more traditional financial vehicles, the quantitative method will be employed. The team will use statistical analysis and models for forecasts, as well as analytic tools, such as time series modeling to tackle rapidly developing cryptocurrency markets and develop financial strategies based on algorithmic trading and statistical arbitrage. At the moment, we’re aiming to over-perform using a traditional ‘buy and hold’ strategy, but our goal will always be to aim for minimum risk for our tokenholders and we will change our strategy when regulation comes in and the market stabilizes.
There are a lot of ICOs and existing tokens with a similar business model. What makes you confident that yours can outperform your competition?
Some of the existing funds are showing profits of 3000% for 2017, but you could have put $100K into the top 15 coins back in January and generated similar profits without any fund management whatsoever. All that will change when the regulatory legislation comes in and the market stabilizes. You won’t see those big swings anymore – which is where a good fund manager can make all the difference. When others are resting on their laurels waiting for the money to roll in, we’ll be putting our expertise to work to outperform them under the new conditions.
In the whitepaper, you talk about a ‘safety’ feature, whereby funds not in trade are kept in a regular, flat currency bank account. How will that work?
70% of the portfolio will be in daily trading; all short term positions will be closed for the night and traded only during normal business hours, Monday to Friday. We may add a shift for Korean business hours as we know they influence the market a lot. The other 20% will be invested in ICOs – long term positions that won’t be cashed out for at least a year, or more. That other 10% will be kept in flat currencies to mitigate risk should be see any volatile movements. It’s just one of the safety features we’ve integrated to put investors inexperienced with crypto at ease.
You are moving forward with a third party, independent fund auditor. Will that be enough to meet regulatory requirements internationally?
The SEC doesn’t care who audits your statements, although we are going with one of the ‘big four’. There are no regulations for cryptocurrencies, or funds, as yet. Once they issue a final statement on what those will be, we will, of course, make sure we comply with all legislation to protect our investors.
You say you are dedicated to providing transparency and you have provided details on all of the founders, but you are based in Cayman Islands. Do you see a contradiction in this?
We originally wanted to incorporate in the Canton of Zug in Switzerland, as there are funds already in place there working with crypto. We met with a lot of people, but after weeks of deliberation we came to the conclusion that, at the moment, the conditions there aren’t exactly right. If they push through regulations and taxation that’s primes the environment for crypto, we might look at it again, but the costs are currently very high. We would need to introduce an annual management fee to cover the expense. That’s not something we want to do for our investors.
As for the transparency, all the fund’s operations will be available on ETH Blockchain. We have a special contract that will be used for daily reporting and all data goes directly from the exchanges via API. Bank statements will be fully audited and then reported to the same contract.
Furthermore, an investor dashboard will be coming soon with lots of features, where you can check your balance, dividends, sell your SYMMs, etc.
Is Symmetry Fund already working with any notable businesses or firms? Are any future partnerships coming down the line?
It’s still very early. Our top priority at the moment is reducing the level of trading commission at Kraken/Bitstamp, and others. There are currently no partnership tie-ups in process, as we need to show our performance for at least a year to build some partnerships/collaborations. But we’re always looking for new opportunities that could benefit our investors.
Tell us more about how the SYMM works. Is it merely the investment vehicle to participate in the fund or will it have additional features in the future?
Each share comes as a SYMM token. During the initial ICO, these will be offered at an initial value of 0.1 ETH and can then be traded at market rates, allowing holders to cash out at any time. As I mentioned earlier, fees will only be charged on profits made. For investors with more than 1000 SYMM, this will be 7.5% and for those with less than that, it will be 15%. Round 1 offers permanent 7.5% commission for all investors.
What risks should investors be aware of when investing in Symmetry?
Well, really the same risks that apply to crypto market in general. It’s still a market that’s evolving so things are still unpredictable. There is the potential for strict regulations from the US or Korean governments regarding crypto/ICOs and exchanges that could damage the industry. There might be a trend for the market to move into alts, as Bitcoin getting hit with ever-higher fees at present. Market saturation could be another issue. Right now, it’s all speculation.
There is no real use for most of the current coins, but I believe that is already changing.
Once that starts happening, we will see crypto currencies merging with real world applications and the potential will become apparent. That’s when we will see market go way beyond the 2T market cap. All that said, we have to be very careful and plan for growth. But that’s why we’ve designed the fund to be the way it is. We have already built-in the protection mechanisms to give our investors a piece of mind. We’ll continue to do that as the market evolves.
What do you think is the biggest challenge or obstacle Symmetry will face? How do you plan to tackle that challenge?
Government regulation. We will work closely with all state officials to comply, but, at the same time, when all the legislation is in place, that’s when we believe we can really use our management experience to outperform others in the market. In 2018, that’s when we’ll start to see the market stabilize. Until then, the safest strategy is buy and hold.
What has been your happiest moment so far working on Symmetry Fund?
We’ve met some amazing talented, young people in the industry. It’s such a great pleasure to see these pioneering heroes dedicate their time to make the world better, faster and more efficient. The future of cryptocurrency is safe with people like this coming into the industry.
Moving on to more personal stuff, what does a typical day in your life look like?
I could be spending the morning in NYC and the evening in Dubai, depending on my schedule, but generally, my days are packed with meetings, calls and handling e-mails. This job keeps me on my feet.
What is your personal opinion of yours about the Blockchain?
It’s truly revolutionary! We really should have started using it way earlier. Now we can have a world without middle man, meaning fewer commissions. Doing business with banks, insurance agents, buying and selling, right down to new economy services, such as Uber… it’s all much more cost effective. It might sounds a bit idealistic, but Blockchain has the potential to make the world a better place.
Finally, what other personal goals (besides your career) do you have in life? Is there anything else you want to achieve?
I believe everyone should have easy access to the good education. My ultimate dream is to run a fund that will invest in undeveloped countries, especially with regards to education, infrastructure and public services.
That concludes our Interview with Andrew Lewin
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