Category Archives: Monthly Feature

Monthly Feature: Hedge fund offering documents

The central reason that beginning hedge fund managers need a lawyer is that the lawyer will prepare the offering documents for the fund. The offering documents are designed to comply with the requirements of the federal securities laws as interests in the fund (whether the fund is a limited partnership or a limited liability company). Specifically the offering documents will most likely be drafted to conform to the requirements of Rule 506 of Regulation D under the Securities Act of 1933.

The offering documents are the necessary paperwork that the manager must give to prospective investors. The offering documents will look very similar to a mutual fund prospectus. The three parts of the offering documents are:

  1. The private placement memorandum (also sometimes called the offering memorandum). The private placement memorandum (also known as the “PPM”), is the main offering document. It provides the prospective investor with information on the structural and business aspects of the fund.
  2. The limited partnership agreement (or, if the fund is an LLC, the operating agreement). The limited partnership agreement (also known as the “LPA”), is the actual governing legal document. It provides a description of the rights of the investors and the manager. When an investor becomes a “partner” in the fund, the investor is executing the limited partnership agreement.
  3. The subscription documents. The subscription documents are the documents which provide the manager with background information on the investor. These documents include assurance and warranties by the potential investor that the potential investor is qualified to invest in the offering. These documements usually include the signature page to the LPA.

A more in depth description of the potential parts of the offering documents follows:

Private Placement Memorandum

While each law firm’s general PPM template is different, they all share many of the same items of information which are included. Below is a non-exhaustive list of some of the major sections of the PPM which you are likely to find in all offering documents.

  • Coverage
  • Legends and securities laws notices
  • Table of contents
  • Summary
  • Use of proceeds
  • Investment Program
  • Risk factors
  • Description of the management company and managers
  • Discussion of fees (Management fees, Performance fees)
  • Manner of valuing the investments
  • Discussion of conflicts of interest
  • Discussion of brokerage
  • Discussion of litigation of the investment manager
  • Discussion of financial statements of the fund
  • A summary of the LPA or Operating Agreement
  • Discussion of service providers
  • Tax disclosures
  • ERISA disclosures
  • Other notices (privacy notice, definition of investors qualified to invest, disclosure on the lack of transferability, etc.)

Limited Partnership Agreement

Like the PPM, each law firm has a different way to draft the LPA. For instance, some law firms will craft a lengthy definition section at the very beginning, other law firms will have definitions attached as an appendix, other firms will define specific terms throughout the document. A very rough guideline of the items which are in the LPA include:

  • Coverpage
  • Table of contents
  • Preamble
  • Defintions
  • Information on formation (business office, registered agent, length of fund, etc.)
  • Capitalization structure (initially and on a going-forward basis)
  • Manner of allocation of profits and losses (including the various tax allocation provisions)
  • Manner of distributions and withdrawals
  • Rights and duties of the management company
  • Rights and duties of the investors
  • Information on accounting, books and records
  • Transfer rights
  • Dissolution of the partnership; winding up
  • Manner of final distributions
  • Grant of power of attorney
  • Miscellaneous provisions (headings, amendments, applicable law, jurisdiction)

Subscription Documents

The subscription documents from one firm to another may differ fairly substantially. Some firms have separate subscription documents for individual investors and for institutional investors. Some firms include the necessary representations with the actual subscription agreement. The basic information included in the subscription documents includes:

  • Coverpage with certain legal disclaimers
  • Directions on how to complete the subscription documents
  • Subscription agreement (including certain acknowledgements, representations and warranties)
  • Investor suitability questions (may be embedded in the subscription agreement) – generally accredited investor, qualified client, or qualified purchaser status
  • LPA investor signature page

If a fund accepts non-accredited investors, the manager will need to make sure that the non-accredited investor meets certain that the non-accredited investor, together if applicable with their purchaser representative, is sufficiently sophisticated to understand the risks of making an investment in the fund. These supplemental representations can be made either in the subscription documents or in a supplement to the subscription documents.

Start-up hedge fund timeline | How to Start a Hedge Fund

Starting a Hedge Fund Timeline

Many prospective hedge fund managers know that they would like to start a hedge fund but have not gone through the process necessary to understand what the process is like or how long it will take. For some managers the process is painless, for others the process is more time consuming and frustrating than they would like. Unfortunately, the timing of an actual fund launch cannot usually be determined with absolute certainty and will depend upon, in large part, your program and your service providers.

A good rule of thumb (for managers who do not need to register as investment advisers with their states) is that the fund formation process should take about 2 months. Often a fund can be up in running in a month or less, but to be on the safe side, I recommend 2 months.* If you need to register with a state, you are going to want to add anywhere from 3 – 6 weeks to the process.**

* It is not unheard of to have funds up and running in a couple of weeks. I’ve had a fund up and running in 4 days. If I need to work with a manager on an extremely tight deadline, this can probably be done in 2 to 3 days, depending on the availability of outside service providers.

** States like California will be closer to 3 weeks (UPDATE: CA is now taking two months to register investment advisers 08-18-09); states like Texas are going to be closer to 6 weeks.

In general the timeline might look like this:

Day 1 – Discussion with legal counsel regarding the structure of your fund (fees, contribution provisions, withdrawal provisions, other items to be included in the legal documents). During this time you will also discuss your investment program and your background.

Day 7-10 – Delivery of offering documents. During this time your legal team should respond to you with your legal documents. Your hedge fund’s legal documents will include the following:

  • Private placement memorandum
  • Limited partnership agreement (or limited liability company operating agreement)
  • Subscription documents

Don’t be scared when you first review these offering documents – they will usually be around 100 pages. Some very large fund offering documents might be up to 200 page or more in length.

Day 10-14 – Review of your offering documents. During this time you should be reviewing the offering documents and familiarizing yourself with their provisions. You will need to understand what all of the legal provisions in your documents mean. If you don’t understand a concept or phrase – mark it down and be sure to ask your attorney. Remember, these are your legal documents and you paid very good money for them – you should know what they say.

Day 17 – Discussion with legal counsel regarding offering documents. You should take about an hour (sometimes it is more or less) to discuss the key points of your offering documents with your legal counsel. You should bring up items which you have questions on and your lawyer should run down the key points of the offering documents with you.

Day 24 – Delivery of revised offering documents. Your legal team should be able to deliver you revised offering documents within about a week. At this time the offering documents are very close to being complete. You should review the documents to make sure that all your questions have been addressed and your changes incorporated. If the revised wording does not make sense, let your attorney know as soon as possible.

At this point these offering documents are in good enough shape to send to your administrator and your auditor (if you decide to name an auditor in the offering documents). In addition, you should begin the account application process with your broker or prime broker.

Day 24-30 – Begin finalizing service provider contracts and make sure all service providers are on the same page. The brokerage account application can potentially be a stumbling block in the process. Certain brokers have certain due diligence requirements which must be met before the account will be ready for live trading. You might not know of these requirements beforehand or the broker’s compliance department may come back with extra requirements – you never know what might be required. For example: one fund was not allowed to have the word “Fund” in their name if they started with less than $2 million in AUM. Another fund was not allowed to clear through a certain prime broker because the managing member of the management company did not have enough experience in the eyes of the clearing broker. While stories like this are the exception rather than the rule, the brokerage account opening process is the most uncertain in terms of time.

Day 30-45 – Last minute prep work with lawyers and service providers. The auditors or administrators may have some minor comments for the lawyers on the offering documents. Some of these service providers may require certain disclaiming language regarding the services which will be provided. It is not uncommon for these requested modifications to be passed on directly to the attorney, sometimes these requests will go through you.  Your lawyer will send you finalized offering documents during this time.

Day 46-60 – Begin getting ready for trading. You should make sure that everything is in place for a smooth first day – make sure you know when and how you will be doing your trading. Make sure you will have assets in the brokerage account on Day 1. Make sure your computers will be working.

Keys to remember during the process

  1. Start early. Give yourself too much time.
  2. Be responsive to all emails and phone calls.
  3. Keep the lines of communication open with your service providers. This is your fund and you are paying your service providers good money. They should be responsive to you and should answer all of your questions. If you do not get the response you would like it is your responsibility to discuss this with your service providers.
  4. Be patient.


Please contact us if you have any questions or would like to start a hedge fund. Other related hedge fund law articles include:

Bart Mallon, Esq. has written most all of the articles which appear on the Hedge Fund Law Blog.  Mr. Mallon’s legal practice, Cole-Frieman & Mallon LLP, is devoted to helping emerging and start up hedge fund managers successfully launch a hedge fund.  If you are a hedge fund manager who is looking to start a hedge fund, or if you have questions about investment adviser registration with the SEC or state securities commission, please call Mr. Mallon directly at 415-296-8510.