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
- Start early. Give yourself too much time.
- Be responsive to all emails and phone calls.
- 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.
- Be patient.
- Thoughts on Hedge Fund Offering Documents
- Overview of Regulation D for Hedge Funds
- Hedge Fund Offering Documents
- Overview of Hedge Fund Investment Advisors
- Hedge Fund Attorney
- How to register as an Investment Advisor
- Overview of the Series 65 exam
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.