What is Hedge Fund?

Hedge Fund Definition

A hedge fund is an aggressively invested portfolio made through pooling of various investors and institutional investor’s fund and invests in a variety of assets which generally is a pool of assets providing high returns in exchange of higher risk through various risk management techniques and hedging techniques


To invest in them, you need Money like Bill Gates, and to manage them, you need Brains like Einstein. Hedge funds have been in the limelight due to various strategies used and some amazing returns generated. They have confronted the traditional fund sector with a substantial challenge. They have attracted more attention and media interest than the traditional sector. You must have also heard a lot about Hedge funds.

They have been successful in getting the pool of talented fund managers due to their lucrative compensation packages. Over the years, they have attracted a powerful flow of capital.

You can say that the Hedge Fund is a type of pooled investment. But isn’t Mutual Fund the same? So what makes Hedge Fund different than the others?

The significant difference is:

Investment in Hedge Funds is open only to a limited group of investors, and its performance is measured in absolute return units.

If you go by the nomenclature of Hedge Funds, the term Hedge (Hedging) means lowering the overall Risk. This is usually done by taking an asset position that helps in offsetting the existing Risk.


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How does Hedge Funds Work?

While we are talking about reducing risks, you may be amazed to know how the Hedge funds do it. In doing so, they use a variety of instruments and amazingly weird strategies too. They are also flexible in their investment options.

What I mean by this is that they can use short sellingShort SellingShort Selling is a trading strategy designed to make quick gains by speculating on the falling prices of financial security. It is done by borrowing the security from a broker and selling it in the market and thereafter repurchasing the security once the prices have fallen.read more, leverage, derivatives such as puts, calls, optionsOptionsOptions are financial contracts which allow the buyer a right, but not an obligation to execute the contract. The right is to buy or sell an asset on a specific date at a specific price which is predetermined at the contract date.read more, futures, etc.

Well, that’s a lot of different things in one sentence. So let’s now move forward and take a look at its characteristics.

Hedge Funds Characteristics

One common and frequent thing that you will notice about Hedge funds is that they vary enormously in investment returns, volatility, and Risk.

  • Some of them can deliver non-market correlated returns.
  • Significant investors in Hedge funds are Pension funds, endowments, insurance companies, private banks, and high Net Worth individuals and families.
  • Experienced investment professionals manage hedge Funds.
  • They are illiquid investments.
  • They have little to no regulations.
  • They are known to use Aggressive Investment Strategies.

Hedge Funds Organization Structure

You can check out the infographic for the diagrammatic representation of the What is Hedge Fund?

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Hedge Funds Infograph

Hedge Funds Fee Structures

Hedge Fund Managers are compensated with two types of Fees:

  1. Management Fee
  2. Performance-based Incentive Fee

A Management fee is measured by Asset under Management and is usually calculated as a percentage of the size of the fund. This fee can be anywhere from 1-4% of net assetsNet AssetsThe net asset on the balance sheet is the amount by which your total assets exceed your total liabilities and is calculated by simply adding what you own (assets) and subtract it from whatever you owe (liabilities). It is commonly known as net worth (NW).read more under management; however, 1-2% is the most common range seen.

The Performance-based incentive fees can be 15%-20% of the Profit that the Hedge Fund makes.

Due to the High Incentive-based fees, the hedge Fund Managers are always aiming at the absolute returnsAbsolute ReturnsAbsolute return refers to the percentage of value appreciation or depreciation of an asset or fund over a certain period. Such assets include mutual funds, stocks and fixed deposits.read more rather than just beating the benchmark returns.

Investors in Hedge Funds

The following are the major investors in Hedge funds:

  • Pension Funds
  • Charitable Foundations
  • University Endowments
  • High Net Worth Individuals

Minimum Investing Requirements in Hedge Fund

Remember that Hedge funds aren’t for everyone. You have to meet the definition of an accredited InvestorDefinition Of An Accredited InvestorAccredited investor refers to a person who has been granted special status under financial regulation laws, allowing him to trade in securities that have not been registered with the regulatory authorities, and it usually involves high-net-worth individuals, brokers, trusts, banks, and insurance companies.read more to invest in Hedge Funds. You will be considered as an accredited Investor if you meet the following requirements:

  • The net worth of more than $1 million, owned alone or jointly with a spouse.
  • Earned $200,000 in each of the past two years.
  • Earned $300,000 in each of the past two years when combined with a spouse.
  • Having a reasonable expectation of making the same amount in the future.

Hedge Funds Strategies

A varied range of hedging strategies is available to hedge funds. Some of them are listed below:

  1. Long/Short Equity
  2. Market NeutralMarket NeutralMarket neutral is an investment strategy or portfolio management technique where an investor seeks to negate some form of market risk or volatility by taking long and short positions in various stocks to increase ROI achieved by gaining from increasing and decreasing prices from one or more than one market.read more
  3. Merger ArbitrageMerger ArbitrageMerger Arbitrage, also known as risk arbitrage, is an event-driven investment strategy that aims to exploit uncertainties that exist between the period when the M&A is announced and when it is successfully completed. This strategy, mainly undertaken by hedge funds, involves buying and selling stocks of two merging companies to create risk-free profit.read more
  4. Convertible ArbitrageConvertible ArbitrageConvertible Arbitrage refers to the trading strategy used in order to capitalize on the pricing inefficiencies present between the stock and the convertible. The person using the strategy takes the long position in the convertible security and the short position in underlying common stock.read more
  5. Capital Structure Arbitrage
  6. Fixed-Income Arbitrage
  7. Event-Driven
  8. Global Macro
  9. Short Only

To know more about the strategies in you can go through our detailed article on Hedge Fund StrategiesHedge Fund StrategiesHedge fund strategies are a set of principles or instructions followed by a hedge fund in order to protect themselves against the movements of stocks or securities in the market and to make a profit on a very small working capital without risking the entire budget.read more.

Key Differences between Hedge Funds and Mutual Funds


The performance of Mutual Funds is measured relative to its relevant index—for example, the S&P 500 Index or other similar mutual funds in that sector. In contrast, Hedge funds are expected to make a profit even though the relative indexes are down.


Mutual fundsMutual FundsA mutual fund is a professionally managed investment product in which a pool of money from a group of investors is invested across assets such as equities, bonds, etcread more are highly regulated. Hedge funds, on the other hand, are not so regulated as compared to Mutual funds.


Fees paid in the case of Mutual Funds depend upon the percentage of Assets under Management. In the case of hedge funds, there are fixed fees as well as incentive fees that are paid to the fund managers.

Unstable Conditions

Where Mutual funds are not able to save their portfolio’s against declining markets, Hedge Funds can do so due to the various strategies used.

Future Performance

You can say that the performance of the Mutual funds is mainly dependent on the direction of the Equity Markets. In the case of Hedge funds, though, future performance is not drastically affected by the Equity market direction. Again the credit goes to the amazing strategies used here.

Benefits of Hedge Funds

Tips for Investing in Hedge Funds

  • Be an Accredited Investor –You need to meet the minimum level of investment and income to be an accredited investor. Find out where you stand before investing.
  • Know the Fees – The Management fee can be between 1%-2%, and the Incentive fee can be up to 20%. Understand the costs properly as prices can highly impact your return on investment.
  • Understand the Fund Prospectus – Go through the fund prospectus and other related material properly. Ensure you understand the terms and conditions, the Risk involved, Strategies, Time horizon, etc.
  • Know Limitations, if any – Understand the opportunities to redeem and the lock-up period correctly.


So that’s about what is Hedge Fund that I had to contribute. From what we have heard about Hedge funds until now, we can say that hedge funds have brought innovative investment strategies in this Investing world. It has given a new sense of excitement to the investment community.

So what do you say, sounds like a tremendous Investing idea?

Reader Interactions


  1. Gaurav says

    Really good explanation of Hedge Fund Dheeraj. Was able to get good initial grasp of it, keep it up.

    • Dheeraj Vaidya says

      Thanks for your kind words!

  2. Kalpesh Chouhan says

    Great Work Dheeraj, Good to know about the Hedge fund in Crisp.

  3. Abu-Sofyian says

    Nice one Dheeraj! i have been enlightened on hedge funds very well. Thanks buddy!

    • Dheeraj Vaidya says

      Thanks Abu :-) Glad you liked the article.

  4. Rajiv kumar says

    Hi dheeraj..insightful…. complex topic with ease language and understanding. Gr8 going..keep on going.

    • Dheeraj Vaidya says

      Thanks Rajiv!

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