The hedge fund performance fee (also known as the “performance allocation,” the “incentive allocation,” the “incentive fee,” among other aliases), is a periodic fee which is calculated as a percentage of any gains of a hedge fund over a predetermined period of time.
The fee is normally taken on both realized and unrealized gains of the hedge fund.
How often do most managers take the performance fee?
The performance fee can be taken over any predetermined period of time. For most hedge fund managers, the performance fee is taken on a yearly basis. However, many managers will take the performance fee on a quarterly basis as well. Some managers (mostly in the forex and futures arenas) will take a performance fee on a monthly basis.
The manager should consider the characteristics of the hedge fund strategy when determining the appropriate time period to measure performance. If a manager is a long-term investor holding positions for 12 or more months, then it would not really be appropriate to take a performance fee on a quarterly or monthly basis. However, for a day trader or a forex manager, who is in and out of multiple positions on a daily basis, it might make sense to have a performance fee period of shorter than one year.
What is the most common performance fee?
The most common performance fee is 20% of the gains of the fund during the performance fee period. For managers who have shown exceptional returns over a long period of time the performance fees may be as high as 40% or 50%.
For hedge fund-of-funds the performance fee is typically 10%. Sometimes hedge fund-of-funds will have performance fees as low as 5% and as high as 15%.
What are some of the variations of the performance fee structure?
Some managers will only take performance fees over a hurdle rate, or a minimum return required before the performance fee is taken. Some managers will have a graduated performance fee structure where the performance fee will increase as the returns to the fund increase.
Also you should note that the hedge fund may not always have a performance fee when there are gains if the gains to not exceed the hedge fund high watermark.
Some other articles you may be interested in:
- Hedge fund management fees
- Overview of hedge fund fees
- Is it time to rethink the high watermark?
- Hedge fund formation and start up costs
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