Tag Archives: hedge fund start up

Starting a Hedge Fund – Primer for Start Up Hedge Fund Managers

How to Start a Hedge Fund

Many future hedge fund managers have misconceptions about how to start a hedge fund – either they think it is a very basic process that takes no time or resources, or they think that it will take too much time and will be cost prohibitive.  For most start up hedge funds, the manager can be up and running within a month depending on whether the manager will need to be registered with the state securities commission (please see our article on start up hedge fund timelines).  This article will detail the steps the manager will need to take to start the hedge fund. Continue reading

Recommended Hedge Fund Articles for Start-up Hedge Fund Managers

Last week we posted our most popular hedge fund articles to date.  This week we are providing start up hedge fund managers with a “hedge fund manager start up guide” which consists of the most important articles for start-up (and existing) hedge fund managers.  The following article provide you with the background information you need to be prepared to begin the hedge fund formation process.

Our group has worked with over 200 start up hedge funds and hedge fund managers and we know the issues which managers are concerned about.  Please contact us if you have any questions on these articles.

Hedge Fund Presentation

  • Start Up Presentation – this voice-over presentation goes over most of the topics covered in the posts below.  The presentation is about 40 minutes long and discusses the basic issues involved in starting a hedge fund.

The Basics

Investors and Fees

Structural Issues

The Laws

Raising Hedge Fund Assets

Other Recommended

Start your hedge fund today with less than $1 million…

Can a manager lauch a successful hedge fund with less than $1 million in assets?  Yes.

While having a large amount of AUM when starting out can be helpful, start up hedge fund managers do not necessarily need to start with a large asset base to have a large, successful hedge fund.  Case in point – David Einhorn.  David Einhorn started his hedge fund in 1996 with $900,000.  His Greenlight Capital fund now has AUM of around $5 billion. Continue reading

Hedge Fund Attorney

What does a hedge fund attorney do for a start-up hedge fund?

A hedge fund attorney is the first service provider a start-up hedge fund manager will likely contact.  The hedge fund attorney will listen to the manager and discuss the investment program.  From here the hedge fund attorney will begin drafting the hedge fund’s offering documents and may also suggest the other service providers the manager should talk to (including the administrator, auditor, and brokers or prime brokers).  After the offering documents have been finalized, the hedge fund attorney will help the manager with many of the logistical items which need to be addressed before the fund begins doing business.

Once the fund has started trading, the hedge fund manager may need the hedge fund attorney to do the following items:

–    Blue sky filings
–    Provide updates on relevant hedge fund laws
–    Revise the offering documents if necessary
–    Draft side letter agreements for certain investors
–    Make 13F filings on behalf of the manager
–    Make Form SH filings on behalf of the manager
–    Consult with the manager if investors have certain needs
–    Consult with the manager to start a new fund
–    Review marketing and other promotional materials
–    Answer hedge fund related questions
–    Help prepare manager for investment advisor or commodity pool operator audits (if necessary)
–    Hedge fund due diligence, potentially

In addition to the above, the hedge fund attorney is going to be a resource for the manager and the fund on an ongoing basis.  Hedge fund lawyers that have been around for a while and who have launched all sorts of funds will have generally experienced most issues that will arise in the hedge fund context.

What else does a hedge fund attorney do?

Besides drafting offering documents for the client, a hedge fund lawyer needs to understand what is going on in the industry.  As such the hedge fund attorney will spend a good portion of his day researching issues for clients, talking with service providers to see what are the developing trends within the industry, talking with regulators to see what are some of the things they are focusing on, in addition to other items.  Your hedge fund attorney should have an ear to the ground and understand the issues that affect you from both a business and regulatory perspective.

Hedge fund attorney – boutique or big firm?

Hedge fund attorneys usually work for either (i) boutique law firms that focus on securities law or the investment management industry or (ii) very large regional or national law firms.  Generally both types of attorneys are competent, produce good documents, and have the requisite knowledge of the industry.  In general, you will be looking at a cost issue.  Hedge fund formation costs can be high and if you use a very large law firm the legal costs could be double or more.

If you are a very large fund which will have over a billion dollars in assets during the first year of operation, you are probably going to go with the very large law firms that have very good reputations for hedge fund work.  Funds smaller than this may decide to go with the boutique firm for cost savings purposes, but they may also decide to go with the large law firms if they feel that there is need to show “name brand” service providers in their offering documents.  This might be the case if these funds are going to be shopping around for very large institutional investors during the first six months of operations.

Another issue to consider is who will be your contact person at the law firm.  Many start-up hedge funds choose to go with the boutique law firm because of the direct access to partners.  At the large law firms, most client matters are handled at the associate level and the partner may only talk to the manager once or twice.

Above all, the most important item when choosing a hedge fund attorney is to make sure you are comfortable with the attorney and his knowledge of the industry.  When starting out, the hedge fund start-up process can take up to two or more months depending on the complexity of the project, so you will want to make sure you have a good working relationship with your attorney.

Overview of hedge fund short sale rules and likely fallout from recent events

I received a request today to talk about hedge fund short sales and the likely fallout from the recent market disruptions and the failed bailout bill.

Short Sale Ban

The SEC has banned short sales on 800 individual securities.  These securities are generally within the financial services industry.  The ban on shorting these securities ends at 11:59 p.m. ET on Oct. 2, 2008. The SEC may extend the ban beyond this date if it deems an extension necessary in the public interest and for the protection of investors, but the SEC will not extend the ban for more than 30 calendar days in total duration.  (The SEC press release can be found here.)

Short Sale Disclosure Requirements

For hedge fund managers who are subject to 13F filings (i.e. those managers who manage $100mm or more), such managers will need to disclose their short positions by filing Form SH with the SEC.  More information on this can be found at 13F questions and answers or at the SEC’s website here. Please click here to view form-sh

Likely Fallout

There is so much uncertainty in the air right now.  Congress is having trouble trying to find some way to unfreeze the credit markets and money managers are just trying to find a way to stay afloat.  Additionally, as I mentioned this morning, investors are getting worried and are pulling cash out of hedge funds.  They way I see it, there are many scenarios which are likely to play out in the next couple of weeks and months:

1. Hedge fund redemptions – many investors are scared and are looking for safety right now.  While some managers are doing phenomenal in this wildly votile market, most are not and have not been doing well for much of the year.  I think that we’ll see in the coming days stories of large amounts of redemptions.

2. Hedge fund closures – as I discussed previously, because of the problems with the hedge fund high watermark, you are going to see money managers face the difficult decision of whether or not to keep their fund running.  Undoubtedly many managers will choose to close down their funds because of lack of capital (from redemptions and/or losses) or because they are too far under to make any money in the coming year.

3. Hedge fund regulation – while hedge funds have not faced the front page criticisms that the large investment banks and other financial institutions have seen over the past few weeks, the lawmakers have already began calling for investigations into the cause of this mess.  These investigations are likely to focus on systemic risks and how hedge funds may have contributed to the current market crisis.  As these reports begin spilling out over the next few weeks and months, I believe hedge funds will be a prime target and you are likely hear lawmakers facing re-election calling for more regulation.  [Please also note, Congress has indicated that it is more than willing to require more regulation of the financial markets as evidenced by its willingness to allow the CFTC to begin regulating the retail spot forex market.  For more information, please see this note from the CFTC. ]

4. Hedge fund start ups – over the next couple of months as funds begin to close down, successful traders will decide to go and start up their own hedge funds.  For these traders the transition to hedge fund manager will be difficult, but they will be able to be successful if they can find investors willing to invest in a start up hedge fund manager.  These traders will need to talk with a hedge fund attorney in order to get started with the hedge fund formation process.

5. Hedge fund due diligence will increasehedge fund due diligence is one of the areas that is set to grow quickly.  I expect that investors, especially smaller institutional investors, will require greater risk management disclosure from hedge funds.  A simple manager back ground check is no longer going to be sufficient.

6. Hedge fund consolidations – while every now and again I will hear something about hedge fund consolidation, it never really seems to happen in any sort of large scale way.  This year may be different as smaller firms with decent track record decide to merge with more established funds with greater risk management procedures.

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

Hedge fund institutional investor due diligence

The goal of many hedge funds is to reach a point where they can start attracting investments from institutional investors. Many hedge funds (especially those with pedigreed managers) are able to start with backing from institutional investors while others (including many start up hedge funds) will need to develop a track record before seriously courting these types of investors. This article describes institutional investors and details some of the hedge fund due diligence procedures which institutional investors will put a fund through prior to investing.

What is an institutional investor?

Institutional hedge fund investors include state and corporate retirement and pension plans, endowments (non-profit and educational), banks, insurance companies and other types of corporations and companies. Sometimes there are very large hedge funds which will themselves invest in small and start up hedge funds – in such instances the large hedge fund will be acting as an institutional investor and will require many of the same due diligence materials. Institutional investors are important for the hedge fund community because they provide a very large potential base for investments.

What is hedge fund due diligence?

Hedge fund due diligence is the process that an investor goes through in order to vet a potnetial investment in a hedge fund. Due diligence will include the following:

  • background checks on all of the managers and employees of the management company
  • thorough review of all of the hedge fund offering documents
  • review of the management company’s risk management procedures

Due diligence document request

The timeline for an investment by an institutional investor is likely to be much longer than the time an individual investor will take to invest in your fund. Typically an investment will need to be approved by the managing director in charge of investments or alternatives; then the institutional investor’s compliance department will typically make a request for certain documents and/or other information. A sample list of the documents requested might look like the following:

Please provide the following information:

  1. Brokerage Agreement with [name of hedge fund broker]
  2. Copies of the executed partnership agreement(s)
  3. Copy of executed opinion of legal counsel relating to the legality of the interests [HFLB note: this is not a legal requirement and many funds do not receive an opinion of counsel with regard to these matters]
  4. Copy of executed opinion of legal counsel with respect to U.S. Federal Income Tax Consequences [HFLB note: this is not a legal requirement and many funds do not receive an opinion of counsel with regard to these matters]
  5. Any other legal opinions rendered in connection with the Partnership
  6. Reference name, title and telephone number for each auditor, legal counsel, clearing broker, custodian, consultant, administrator engaged by the Partnership of General Partner for the past two years
  7. A description of valuation policies and procedures [HFLB note: this may not be applicable to a fund; will depend on the investment strategy and the potential investments]

Depending on the nature of the institutional investor, you will see different levels of analysis of the actual trading style and returns of the fund. A sample reqest for information might include the following:

A detailed information on the trading program including:

  • list of investments
  • execution
  • frequency
  • diversification
  • liquidity

A detailed examination of historical returns including:

  • weekly/monthly/annual returns (best/worst/average)
  • sharpe ratio
  • sortino ratio
  • standard deviation
  • VaR
  • drawdown analysis

While I have hit upon most of the high points, any one institutional investor may have requests which are completely different from the items requested above. If you have any questions on the due diligence process or an investment into your fund from institutional investors, please don’t hesitate to contact me directly.