The pandemic saw the rise and fall of businesses and introduced new names who have transformed companies into multibillion-dollar titans. For example, one of the promising stars in the financial world is responsible for creating an 8.8 billion dollar asset management company from a billionaire’s family office. His name is Ryan Tolkin.

Who is Ryan Tolkin?

Ambitious and driven are some of the descriptors that those who know Ryan Tolkin use often. At 34 years old, this Duke alum has used extreme focus and discipline to get to where he is at this point. A native of Long Island, he now runs Schonfeld Strategic Advisers as its CEO after interning for the hedge fund when he was still in high school. 

According to his professors, Tolkin was brilliant and purposeful and always interested in completing coursework. His fraternity brothers consider him persevering in his goals and having nothing block him from succeeding.

This competitive attitude has produced outstanding results for Schonfeld. Since it set up its $4 billion flagship fund, it has averaged an annual return of not less than 14% for the first five years. 

Much of the company’s success comes from Tolkin’s leadership, investors say. Unlike your typical overbearing portfolio manager, Tolkin is reportedly easy to approach and grounded. Yet despite his easy demeanor, he admits that he is the most driven person around and offers his secret to success.

As Tolkin tells Business Insider, what forms his being ambitious is openness to learning – “learning from the best and what they’ve done” and also understanding what drove their failure and success.

Schonfeld rewarded his performance by appointing him SEO when the year started. 

Origin story

Tolkin first worked at Goldman Sachs as a fresh college grad. However, he considers Schonheld as his “first real job.”

Steven Schonfeld, the billionaire who amassed wealth from trading for years, ran a family office in Long Island near Tolkien’s hometown. Schonfeld is famed as among the oldest hedge funds in the world. Established in 1988, it pioneered quant and systematic trading. 

Tolkin first met Schonfeld as an intern for a high school work-study program. Then, to trade money for Schonfeld while a teenager, Tolkin took and passed the Series 7 licensing exam. 

After college, Schonheld invited Tolkin to work for him at the family office. But he declined at first, choosing Goldman Sachs instead.

When the 2008 housing bubble burst, Tolkin realized the importance of excellent risk management. He explains that the crisis helped shape the new generation of investors and managers. 

In running Schonfeld, Tolkin emphasizes prior planning and self-improvement, adding that it “prevents poor performance.” 

From only 37 employees at a family office, Schonfeld has now grown into a 600-strong company. His success has also come with immense personal wealth, such as a $14 million Miami Beach mansion purchased this year. 

From the looks of it, things are only just beginning for the 34-year old Tolkin.