Freed from their institutional shackles, Paul Cuddy and Mark East were raring to go last month at their new majority staff-owned, Bennelong-backed Australian equities boutique.

But the former ING Investment Management supremos were forced to wait just a little longer than they intended, not for a licencing hold-up or anything like that, but at the behest of their senior analyst and erstwhile ING colleague, Michael Chun.

The quietly spoken Chun is from a family that’s dead serious about its Chinese numerology, and when he heard that the shop’s official start date would be Monday, July 7, he knew that wouldn’t do at all. “Michael said that it had to be the 8th,” remembers Bennelong Funds Management chief executive Jarrod Brown.

“We made his wife very happy when we agreed to hold off for a day.” Chun’s influence is also evident in the mobile phone numbers chosen for the new team. “Michael advised us not to have too many 4s or 5s, they’re unlucky, but 9s are good and 3s are okay,” said Brown, in a sentence to remember when you’re late for your meeting with the Bennelong guys but can’t find their business cards in your iPhone.

We assume Chun didn’t have a say in the number of dollars his team was seeded by its new backer, but he couldn’t be too unhappy given Paul Cuddy assured us the amount was “well north of the generic amount you see in relation to incubator seedings”, which Cuddy put at between $10 million and $20 million.

In terms of how the Bennelong boys will manage that money, potential clients will be relieved to know that Chun’s input will be limited to bottom-up analysis of stocks. “Numerology’s not a major part of the process,” Cuddy assured Unbalanced.

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