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hedge fund equity jobs

Hedge fund managers generally find their business from pension funds, foundations, endowments, and high net worth individuals.  Because hedge fund managers usually deal with entities that can withstand large short term fluctuations in the value of their assets, hedge funds are authorized a greater range of investment strategies.

Since some of these strategies used by hedge funds include short selling and leverage, most hedge fund managers need economic and market volatility to make a living (there are, of course, many exceptions to this generalization). This is in contrast to such financial careers as investment bankers and private equity professionals, where market volatility does not generally play into their hand.

Market Effects on Hedge Fund Managers

So, how has the recent economic and market conditions helped or hurt hedge fund managers?  Based upon estimates of the industry, the theoretical idea that volatility is good for employment only has limited applicability, with the main reason being that, although volatility may be good for many active hedge fund traders, many others’ use of leverage in times of declining equity prices only exacerbated their losses.

What’s happened to employment in the hedge fund industry the past decade?  Employment growth in the hedge fund industry had been fairly strong over the past ten years, growing by an average annual growth rate of about 13 percent.  The trend of strong employment in the industry hit a snag in the fall of 2009, declining by about 15 percent at its worst point.  The culprit, of course, was the financial crisis that surfaced in the fall of 2007, but really took full force in 2008 and 2009.

Since the summer of 2010, the year over year growth rate in employment has averaged around 3 percent, or about three times as much as the overall economy has grown over the same time horizon.  Some readers might find it interesting that the hedge fund industry is growing at around three times the rates of the overall economy even though the industry was blamed as a critical factor in the recent recession.  So, although some hedge funds surely blew it , there’s still a lot of trust out there.

Hedge Fund Employment Future

What does this all portend for the future of the economy’s hedge fund industry and its employment growth?  Well, although there’s growing competition from mutual funds that attempt to mimic as many hedge fund strategies as possible and there’s growing concern that hedge funds aren’t worth the money, the simple answer is that there continues to be strong demand for alternative methods for managing assets, and hedge funds are the go-to-guys when this question comes up.

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Hedge funds have grown substantially over the past decade as an alternative investment class for those that want returns not necessarily correlated with the overall market. These funds do not face the same restrictions as traditional funds such as mutual funds, and this freedom allows hedge fund managers to pursue a variety of unique investment strategies. Some of these investment strategies include long-short funds, relative value funds and commodity funds.

The freedom to short equities and trade in derivatives sets hedge funds apart from traditional mutual funds. Many investors believe that these exposures make hedge funds more risky, and in many cases, they are correct. However, the careful application of derivatives and short positions in a portfolio can yield solid returns that are not tied to any existing index, giving the investor instant diversification.

Hedge Fund Industry Affected by Overall Climate

The hedge fund industry is intimately tied to the overall investment climate. In times of high economic risk like we are seeing today, investors tend to avoid riskier investments such as hedge funds and equities in favour of fixed income alternatives such as Treasury bonds. The redemptions caused by this shift in capital allocation impact not only the size of hedge funds, but also the fees that hedge fund managers collect. This then impacts the resources that hedge fund managers are able to bring to bear in the management of the portfolio.

The New York Times captures this trend in a May article, discussing the slowing in hedge fund inflows. While overall hedge fund asset growth has been on the decline since May of 2010, the article indicates that one of the bright spots in the industry has been fixed-income funds. Leon Mirochnik, an analyst at TrimTabs Investment Research, said “investors see these strategies as offering the best defense against unpredictable geopolitical issues.”

Other niche markets such as funds in Japan and macro based funds are also experiencing growth in light of the overall decline in the industry. This has been despite negative returns in the Japanese market in particular.

Hedge Fund Jobs Outlook

Opportunities in the hedge fund industry will be limited moving forward unless a reversal in the flow of funds occurs and assets under management begins to grow again. Quite simply, there isn’t enough money moving into the funds to justify the addition of resources. The exception to this trend is of course the niche market and the fixed income funds that are experiencing growth. Individuals with experience and knowledge of these niche markets may find some success in the hedge fund industry over the coming years.

With that considered, until a robust economic recovery gets underway, investors will continue to avoid risky assets and hedge funds certainly fall into that class. This will continue to be a drain on hedge fund assets under management for some time to come.

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Ready to Leave Your Job and Start a Hedge Fund?

July 22, 2010

The usual trickle of bank traders wanting to leave their firms to start their own hedge funds has turned into a flood, according to a recent article in Britain’s Telegraph. Among them are traders from Goldman Sachs, BNP Paribas, Deutsche Bank and the former Wells Fargo. In some cases the reason is tighter bank regulations […]

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