At a time when holiday festivities should be the center of attention for most, the staff at one fund company, instead of celebrating, is mourning the loss of its leader. On Dec. 11, the founder of Rydex Funds, A.P. "Skip" Viragh, died of pancreatic cancer at his home in Sarasota, Fla. He was 62.

Before Rydex, Viragh held a series of sales-related positions, becoming director of institutional sales and marketing at Maryland-based Rushmore Funds (now FBR Mutual Funds) in 1985. At Rushmore, Viragh was responsible for the development of the Rushmore Nova Fund, which later became the foundation for the Rydex Funds.

Noticing the lack of attention mutual fund firms gave to financial advisers, registered investment advisers and sophisticated investors – all of whom wanted more active trading strategies – Viragh left Rushmore in 1993 to form Rydex Funds.

Since establishing Rockville, Md.-based Rydex, the firm developed additional innovative investment solutions for advisers, including the first inverse equity and fixed income funds. Today, the firm has 14 index-based funds, 17 sector funds and a government money market fund, totaling more than $9 billion in assets under management. Due to Viragh’s groundbreaking vision, the firm is also slowly transforming itself into a full financial services firm for RIAs, including a custody platform and practice management benchmarking tools.

"Rydex and ProFunds are interesting additions to the fund industry," said Geoff Bobroff, a mutual fund consultant in East Greenwich, R.I. "They tend to deal with a unique sector of the marketplace – more of the trader side of the marketplace. Unlike other fund groups that are running as fast as they can from any indication of market timing, the Rydex/ProFunds encourage market timing – not in the nature of arbitrage, but just generally for people that want to move rapidly between funds. It is somewhat of an anomaly in the industry."

Carl Verboncoeur, president of Rydex Fund Services, has taken on the CEO position of Rydex Investments. Michael Byrum, president of Rydex Capital Partners, has stepped up to COO for Rydex Investments.

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