From the category archives:

Hedge Fund Jobs

The suggestion that assets under management are soaring is admittedly a bit Trumpian, but the fact is that the number of hedge funds shrank to 9,803 (including funds of funds) while 2016 industry assets under management climbed to just over $3 trillion according to the HFR Market Microstructure Report.

What Can Be Inferred From the Report?

If the number of hedge funds is shrinking at the same time hedge fund assets under management (AUM) rise, then it stands to reason that those firms remaining are becoming larger. More dollars spread among fewer firms can result in no other outcome.

In January 2017, hedge fund redemption slowed to $5.2 billion, a figure that represents about one-quarter of the outflows suffered in January 2016. Suffered may not be the correct adjective because we must also infer that many of these redeemed funds are being redirected to hedge funds with superior performance metrics. Otherwise, how is the growth of AUM to be rationalized?

How Will This Affect Hedge Fund Compensation?

For insights into the effect of larger firms on hedge fund compensation, we look to the 2017 Hedge Fund Compensation Report.

2016 HF Comp by Firm Size

 As the chart shows, mean compensation begins to trend lower in larger firms, those with fifty or more employees. One can expect investors to redeem from firms that have failed to meet expectations and invest in higher performing firms. However, that does not mean that these investment dollars will necessarily flow to the largest firms. Countless hedge fund firms, with fewer than fifty employees, boast stellar performance records. As a result, they will attract their share of investors.

Nonetheless, as underperformers shutter and the total number of hedge fund firms continues to decrease, the growth of even the smallest firms is all but guaranteed. If the trend toward lower compensation in larger firms, as shown in the chart above, were to continue, then it would be reasonable to speculate that hedge fund compensation overall will undergo a decline.

There are too many factors in play which could impact the industry, therefore it would be irrational to predict this outcome since we know the paradigm in which the above chart exists may be radically different from tomorrow’s.

What Is the Impact on Jobs?

We all understand that swings in assets under management do not necessarily mandate adjustments in staffing, but those who lose their positions because of firm closure could face increased challenges in their quest to gain purchase with another firm.

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After an inglorious 2016, many pundits jawbone about a continued investor exodus from the so-called overpriced and underperforming hedge fund industry. However, the facts are in stark contrast to the rhetoric. January 2017 redemptions total $5.2 billion, about one-quarter of the $19.3 billion outflow the hedge fund industry experienced in January 2016. Furthermore, a substantial percentage of the monies redeemed were reinvested in hedge funds with superior performance records. We know this to be true, because year over year hedge fund AUM continues to rise, and presently stands at $3.018 trillion.

Painting the hedge fund industry as being in a death spiral is like saying the sun will burn out in 5 billion years. Undeniably, a number of hedge funds are underperforming—a small number will fail, but this has always been so.

Credit Suisse Delivers Positive News

In its ninth annual Hedge Fund Investors Survey, 87 percent of 320 institutional investors representing $1.3 trillion in hedge fund investments, indicated they would maintain or increase their hedge fund exposure in 2017…this is the same percentage reported in Credit Suisse’s 2016 survey.

Some of this willingness to stay the course may be attributed to the fact that 57 percent of these investors reported receiving fee reductions in the past twelve months. Additionally, 61 percent of the survey’s respondents reported having at least one manager in their portfolio with a hurdle rate. This confirms a trend between investors and hedge fund managers in which they continue to achieve a better alignment of terms.

What Drives Redemption?

As one might expect, the main driver of redemption, according to 80 percent of survey participants, is underperformance. Fifty-two percent of respondents cited strategy drift and individual investment manager turnover as drivers.

Interestingly, just 30 percent of the survey’s respondents felt that their hedge fund met or exceeded expectations, a 15 percentage point reduction from last year’s 45 percent. This is worrisome. Either expectations are elevated or hedge funds are performing more poorly. The aggregate gains for hedge funds in 2016 as compared to 2015 would suggest the former, not the latter.

What Are Investors Looking for In a Hedge Fund?

Investors surveyed are looking for returns net of fees, non-correlation with existing investments and core team stability coupled with proven risk management skills, in that order.

The Forecast Is Growth

While the Credit Suisse survey is replete with insights, the most heartening takeaway is investors predict a 3.5% increase in inflows during 2017. If this materializes, we will see hedge fund AUM rise by around $106 billion at year-end.

Hedge Fund Jobs

The Credit Suisse survey is great news for those seeking employment in the hedge fund industry. Growth will certainly enhance demand. The survey indicates that the most sought after hedge fund strategies are Global Macro-Discretionary, with 26 percent of those surveyed indicating a preference for this strategy, followed by 18 percent opting for Fixed Income Arbitrage/Relative Value and another 18 percent favoring an Emerging Markets-Equity strategy. It follows that employment opportunities will be greater in firms following one of these three strategies.

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Hedge Funds Face-Off with the 4 Horsemen of the Apocalypse

May 31, 2016

Who are these four horsemen? Pitiful performance, available alternatives, reduced fees, and impatient investors. Abysmal hedge fund performance has been the norm for the past five years. Hedge Fund Research reported the global hedge fund composite to be down almost 1.2 percent when averaged over the past five years. Contrast this with the S&P 500, which is up […]

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Trump Defies Gravity and So Do Hedge Funds

February 22, 2016

Anyone following the primaries will recognize this phrase, used frequently in the context of Donald Trump’s foray into presidential politics. For example, in the recent South Carolina contest, the phrase was employed ubiquitously by talking heads in the mainstream media, who were largely incredulous regarding the margin of Trump’s victory in the wake of his […]

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What Is the Best Professional Background for a Hedge Fund Job?

January 4, 2016

Many aspiring to a career in the hedge fund industry ask this question in the broader context of career path. It is an excellent question but, like so many others, has no single answer. The truth is there are many paths to a career in hedge funds. Hedge fund employees come from a multiplicity of […]

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Competition for Hedge Fund Jobs Heats Up

November 30, 2015

Hedge fund performance tends to suffer in a bull market and the current bull market is on the cusp of moving into second place for longevity, unseating the 1949 through 1956 run, which currently holds that distinction. The bull market has taken the lion’s share of the blame for the havoc wreaked on hedge fund […]

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Are Headhunters on the Path to Extinction?

November 16, 2015

Technology and innovation have disrupted countless industries over the past several years, not the least of which is the recruiting industry. In the recent past, headhunters, the proactive agents of recruiting firms, would be on the front lines and phone lines seeking the best talent for the clients they represented. Frequently, headhunters reached out to […]

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