Cohen's Point72 hires sports psychologist as 'performance coach'

NEW YORK, March 11 (Reuters) - Steve A. Cohen became a billionaire many times over thanks in part to help from an unusual source: a psychiatrist.

Now Point72 Asset Management, which oversee’s Cohen’s personal fortune, is doubling down on the unusual tack and hiring an in-house motivator.

Gio Valiante, a sports psychologist, has been appointed as the firm’s full-time “head performance coach,” Point72 said on Friday. Valiante had been consulting with the Stamford, Connecticut-based firm for 18 months before moving to the in-house position.

Over his career, Valiante has worked with top professional golfers, including Ernie Els, Justin Rose and Davis Love III, and his clients have won more than 60 PGA Tour and LPGA Tour events. Valiante’s website describes him as “master of the mental game.”

At Point72, Valiante, for example, works with investment professionals to help them be resilient in turbulent market conditions.

“We expect his work will elevate the level of success at the firm,” Doug Haynes, Point72’s president, said in a statement.

This year, fears about growth in China and interest rate moves have sent markets tumbling only to recover some later, making for volatile moves.

Point72, previously known as SAC Capital Advisors, has lost money this year after having returned more than 15 percent in 2015 when the average hedge fund lost approximately 1 percent.

SAC made headlines over its lifetime with double-digit returns and was one of the first investment firms to use a performance coach. Cohen hired Ari Kiev in the early 1990s to help his traders. Kiev died in 2009.

SAC Capital changed its name to Point72 after pleading guilty to criminal insider trading charges and agreeing to stop managing money for outside investors.

The firm now employs over 1,000 people including nearly 400 investment professionals and invests roughly $11 billion. (Reporting by Svea Herbst-Bayliss; Editing by Leslie Adler)