The hedge fund industry is facing something of an identity crisis at the moment. Slumping performance figures and investor revolt against the standard “2 and 20” fee model is forcing a shakeout: 291 hedge funds shuttered in the first quarter of 2016, offset by only 206 new funds started up, according to fresh data from Hedge Fund Research. Last year saw the most closures since 2009.
Survivors of the fallout are asked to slash costs and explain again how they outperform the market net of fees. Over the past five years, hedge funds provided investors a measly 1.7 percent return, according to the HFRI Fund Weighted Composite Index. Had that money been invested in the S&P 500 instead, the average annualized return would have been 11 percent.
If things don’t improve, expect more hedge fund outfits to struggle during fundraising. Already the $300 billion California Public Employees’ Retirement System (CalPERS), seen as both a bellwether and pacesetter for other institutional investors, has left the sector. Other big-name investors, including MetLife, American International Group and the New York City pension plan are reportedly set to do the same.
Which makes the timing of a new release from the Alternative Investment Management Association (AIMA) so important. Last week, the hedge fund trade body published an investor relations best practices manual that touches on everything from pre-meeting planning to on-boarding procedures to crisis management. The guidelines are only being made available to AIMA members, but a scan of its executive summary hints at just how much thought and effort went behind its creation. Continue Reading →