In short, hedge funds are pooled investment vehicles. That is, a hedge fund is a company which pools money from its investors (owners) and makes investments pursuant to the fund’s stated investment objective. There are many different types of hedge funds, which can invest in everything from stocks and bonds to more esoteric investments like derivatives, commodities and real estate. In addition to investments in a wide variety of financial or other instruments, hedge funds can “short” certain financial instruments and can also borrow to “leverage” their investments.
Unlike mutual funds, hedge funds are not registered with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. While this means that hedge funds are not subject to the same level of government scrutiny as mutual funds, it does not mean that the SEC and the states cannot bring enforcement actions against hedge fund managers who break the law or make misrepresentations to investors.
While hedge funds are not subject to the more rigorous standards of mutual funds, they will need to comply with the U.S. securities laws regarding “private placements.” Hedge funds are generally sold to investors in “private placements” which means that hedge fund managers cannot advertise and that, generally, investors will need to be “accredited investors” that is they must have either (i) a one million dollar net worth or (ii). The investment managers will also need to adhere to certain filings within each state in which an investor resides. This will generally mean that they must file a “Form D” notice with each state within 15 days of the date in which each investor invests in the fund. The “Form D” must also be filed with the SEC within this time period.