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The curse of success

Hedge funds are squaring up to the fact that the next phase of their development will be more difficult, due to capacity shortages and low returns. In the second in a new series of articles based on the latest global research study carried out jointly by Create and KPMG, Prof Amin Rajan and Tom Brown examine the prospects for the hedge fund sector.

This article appears courtesy of Global Investor

While recognising that investors will not desert other asset classes, hedge fund managers are very optimistic about their own prospects and those of their industry. Their assessment is independently corroborated by mainstream fund managers, prime brokers, pension funds and administrators participating in the Create/KPMG 2005 annual report, published in July. However, this collective optimism is tempered by the recognition that hedge funds face major challenges. The future is not expected to be as bright as the recent past because of capacity shortages, low volatility and low returns.

The next wave of growth will be driven by institutional investors taking their place alongside the three groups who drove the last wave – namely, HNWIs, foundations and family offices. New regulation will attract new clients and vice versa. But there is also a recognition that the honeymoon period may be over.Indeed, a large majority of boutique hedge fund managers see theirs as a lifestyle business in which profits matter more than growth, scope more than scale, performance more than size, and personal autonomy more than ownership structure. They are quick to close funds that reach capacity. They neither want to scale the business, nor be owned by a large financial conglomerate for fear of being stifled by bureaucracy.

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