Mr Cornford is understood to have been backed by Tigon, a City firm that has about pounds 195m under management and has admitted to losses of more than pounds 200,000 in its first full year.
Companies House returns show that two of the company's officers are Anthony John Phipps Tiarks, 29, and Lesley Jane Tiarks, understood to be his wife. They both gave an address in Chobham, Surrey, but callers yesterday were told they were on holiday.
Mr Tiarks is believed to be closely related to Henry Tiarks, 93, who was successively a partner and director of Schroder, the merchant bank, for 39 years, as well as being the founder of Securicor, the delivery firm. He was also a director of Lucas Industries for 22 years. Henry Tiarks's daughter, Henrietta, is married to the Marquess of Tavistock, heir of the 13th Duke of Bedford.
Tigon refused to comment on Friday.
One industry observer said Tigon had had trading problems and was looking for new blood. Tigon staff have been boasting for several weeks of hiring a well-known player.
This is part of a trend in which a number of key foreign exchange dealers are leaving City banks to join hedge funds and other groups promising the possibility of remuneration in millions of pounds rather than hundreds of thousands.
Richard Hill, a senior Barclays foreign exchange trader, left to go independent earlier this month.
And Gaiacorp, a Dublin- based investment group, has recruited two star traders. Nick Tsappis joined in March from First National Bank of Chicago in London, where he was head of proprietary FX trading, and Padraig Devlin joined this month from Bankers Trust.
Several noted equity fund managers and analysts have also left to run hedge funds recently. Hugh Sloane left GT Management last year to set up Sloane Robinson with George Robinson, formerly head of research at W I Carr in Hong Kong. John Armitage, one of Morgan Grenfell Asset Management's best fund managers, departed to establish a hedge fund earlier this year.
Hedge fund managers can offer traders rewards more closely linked to trading profits because they employ small teams and have few overheads.
Stephan Harris, managing director of global treasury at NatWest Markets, said: 'The problem is that these people get 20 to 25 per cent of the profitability plus a 2 to 3 per cent up- front fee, so it is pretty sizeable. I lost a proprietary trader a year ago that I hired from Bankers Trust, to go and work in Bermuda, and he got 2 to 3 per cent and 22.5 per cent. People talk about the high City salaries but our guys are not paid anything like that.'
Arthur S Reynolds, head of marketing at Gaiacorp, said: 'I can tell you this is a mega-trend in the business. The big trading room is about to die.'
He added that traders choose to join independent firms because they can be contractually guaranteed that they will be rewarded according to their results. In banks they might make large profits, but their final package would probably reflect the results of the whole department and all of its attendant costs.
Last year many hedge fund managers in London and New York went home with pay packets running into millions and, in a few cases, tens of millions of pounds.
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