Funds Hub

Money managers under the microscope

‘High-handed’ hedgies face boycott

April 20, 2009

BNY Mellon’s look at the “Hedge Fund of Tomorrow” has gained some column inches for its confirmation that wealthy Europeans have proven decidedly disloyal to the hedge funds who lined their pockets during the good times.

Rapid exits from European HNWs have apparently created an industry which is more American, and more institutional. BNY Mellon and research firm Casey Quirk expect assets to recover, and more than double within 4 years. Small beer given previous growth rates, but beggars can’t be choosers.

I was most struck though by another line in the 50-page report.

Left outside the gatesInvestors were asked what they would consider the greatest challenge for hedge funds going forward, and it is clear that the installation of suspended redemptions or investment gates has riled the clients something rotten.

The measures may be entirely legal, but many investors think their hedge fund managers have been ‘high-handed’ and ‘abrupt’. (I do wonder if they expected polite advance notice of a block on redemptions to give them ample opportunity to err… pull all their cash out?)

More worryingly, clients who contributed to the report are convinced that certain hedgies are playing fast and loose:

“Some report that their hedge fund managers continue to charge fees on gated assets, or that the portfolio is actually liquid and managers are using the gate provision as a business-continuity tool rather than an investor-protection measure.”

In an era when investors are no longer in thrall to stellar hedge fund returns, they are apt to vote with their feet. The BNY Mellon study reports clients are preparing to “blacklist” hedge funds who have crossed the line, conjuring up another ill wind for an industry still struggling to weather the storm.

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