New Hedge Fund Launches Hit 14-Year Low

Reach lowest mark since 2008 in Q2 2022, as the Fed grapples inflation with rate hikes.

Although raised interest rates have yet to cause a recession, the ending of the era of cheap financing with near-zero rates have impacted the hedge fund industry materially. New research by Hedge Fund Research, Inc. finds that new hedge fund launches have hit their lowest level since the fourth quarter of 2008. 

The estimated number of new hedge fund launches fell to only 80 in the second quarter of 2022, a significant decline from the estimated 185 launched in the first quarter. This figure represented the lowest launch rate since 56 new funds launched back in the fourth quarter of 2008.

On the news, Kenneth J. Heinz, president of HFR shared, “new launches fell sharply for the quarter despite strong outperformance, as risk-off sentiment drove investor risk aversion, with investors maintaining exposures to established funds through the current volatile market paradigm of unprecedented geopolitical and macroeconomic uncertainty.”

The slump in new hedge fund formations comes after a recent study by Nasdaq’s eVestment found that the hedge fund industry has seen $44.9 billion of net redemptions so far this year. The drop in new funds is cited in the report as a result of global inflation plighting financial markets, causing interest rate hikes and high levels of volatility, which aids existing hedge operations. 

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Heinz commented on the health of the sector saying, “as current trends continue to dominate performance through year end, it is likely that institutional investors will continue to expand allocations to both Macro funds and the entire industry with the objective of defensive capital preservation, long US Dollar exposure.”

In the trailing 12 months ending with the second quarter of 2022, an estimated 510 total new hedge funds have launched, and an estimated 501 funds have liquidated, resulting in a net gain 0f nine funds over the past year. The number of hedge fund liquidations increased from the prior quarter, as an estimated 156 funds closed their  doors in the second quarter, up from 126 fund liquidations in quarter one.

Despite the high amount of cash redeemed from the industry and the slowdown in new firms, hedge fund fees remained steady in 2022, as the average industry-wide management fee was unchanged from the prior quarter at an estimated 1.36%, while the average incentive fee increased narrowly by 2 basis point to 16.05%.

The estimated average management fee, alike with new hedge fund formations, represents the lowest level since HFR began publishing these estimates in 2008. For funds launched in the second quarter, average management fees declined 11 basis points from the prior quarter to an estimated 1.32%. While the average incentive fees for funds launched in the second quarter was estimated at 17.9%, representing a decline of 8 basis points from the prior quarter though remaining above the overall industry-wide average.

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