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Unlocking the Secrets of Hedge Funds: Strategies, Risks, and Returns

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By Arun Dahal Khatri

A hedge fund is a private investment tactic that pools money from a limited number of investors, known as limited partners, and is managed by professional fund managers. These managers employ investment strategies to achieve above-average returns, often leveraging and trading non-traditional assets. Hedge funds are considered risky, typically requiring a high minimum investment or net worth, making them accessible mainly to wealthy clients.
There are different types of hedge funds, each focusing on specific investment strategies to target profits. One common type is the global macro hedge fund, which actively manages investments to capitalize on broad market swings resulting from political or economic events. Another type is the equity hedge fund, which may operate on a global scale or concentrate on a specific country, investing in potentially lucrative stocks while hedging against equity market downturns by short-selling overvalued stocks or stock indices. Relative value hedge funds seek to exploit temporary pricing inefficiencies between related securities, aiming to profit from price or spread discrepancies. Finally, activist hedge funds invest in businesses and take actions to increase the stock price, such as demanding cost-cutting measures, asset restructuring, or changes in the board of directors.
The concept of hedge funds can be traced back to 1949 when the Australian investor Alfred Winslow Jones launched the first hedge fund through his company, A.W. Jones & Co. He raised $100,000 and sharpened his mind to maximize returns by minimizing the potential risks in the long term investment model, which involved short-selling to hedge against potential losses. 1952, Jones converted his fund into a limited partnership and introduced a 20% incentive fee for the managing partner based on performance. This began modern hedge funds' "2 and 20" fee structure. Under this system, hedge funds charge a 2% management fee based on the value of net assets of each investor's shares to cover operational costs and compensate the fund manager. Additionally, they charge a 20% performance fee on any profits the fund generates.

To illustrate how hedge funds earn money, let's consider an example. Suppose an investor contributes $5 million to a hedge fund. With a 2% management fee, the fund will charge $1,00,000 to cover operating expenses and compensate the fund manager for that year. If the fund performs well and the investment increases to $6 million within a year, the 20% performance fee will amount to $200,000, which the fund will take as compensation for generating a profit. In recent years, hedge funds have faced increasing scrutiny due to their risk profile and potential impact on financial markets. Some argue that their strategies, particularly short-selling and leverage, can exacerbate market volatility and pose systemic risks. On the other hand, proponents of hedge funds point out that they provide valuable liquidity to financial markets and contribute to price efficiency.

Moreover, hedge funds are private investment vehicles managed by professional fund managers who employ various strategies to achieve above-average returns. They cater mainly to wealthy investors and charge a "2 and 20" fee structure, which includes a 20 % performance fee and a 2 % management fee. Hedge funds have evolved significantly since their inception in 1949 and are a prominent player in the financial industry. However, their risk profile and potential impact on financial markets make them a subject of ongoing debate and regulatory scrutiny.


Top 5 Biggest U.S. Hedge Funds Under Management

Bridgewater Associates $125 Billion 
Renaissance Technologies $106 Billion
AQR Capital Management $94  Billion
Two Sigma $67  Billion
Millennium Management $57  Billion