by Hetty MacIntyre Comments (114)

So You Think You Can Start a Hedge Fund? How to Become the Next Ken Griffin: Getting Up and Running

First, the bad news: you haven’t picked the best time to start a hedge fund (assuming that you are reading this anywhere in between 2011 and the present day).

It was much better to get into the game early – i.e. the late 90’s or early 2000’s – before everyone else also wanted to start their own funds.

But if you have your heart set on becoming the next Ken Griffin, Ray Dalio, or John Paulson, I can’t talk you out of doing it.

I can point out, however, that hedge funds require start-up capital in the millions or tens of millions, eye-popping legal bills, and entail constant scrutiny by current and potential investors. It’s a tough business that’s only getting tougher as the government piles on more and more regulation.

So if you want any chance of success at all, you’d better have a novel, workable idea and the ability to raise tons of money.

Starting a hedge fund because it sounds like an easy ticket to models and bottles, because you can’t find another buy-side job, or because you think you have a brilliant investment idea but haven’t tried it yet are all surefire ways to lose money.

You also need to be entrepreneurial – as the founder of your own hedge fund, not only are you a portfolio manager, you’re also a small business owner. Thankless tasks like managing overhead, IT, HR, and marketing will fall on your shoulders. Even if you hire people to do this for you, expect to spend 20 – 30% of your time on administrative matters.

If you still have your heart set on starting your own fund, though, here’s what you need first:

Got a Strategy?

Your investors will want to know exactly how you plan on making them money. Just saying you’re a global macro fund or a value investor won’t cut it – you need to show that you have a different way of executing those strategies with a repeatable process.

Got a Track Record?

You also have to prove that your strategy has worked in the past under a variety of different market conditions. This is harder than it looks because you may be prohibited (by your firm and/or the law) from using your past performance record in marketing materials for your new fund.

Institutional investors (endowments, pensions, etc.) usually look for a 3 year-long track record. Funds-of-funds, family offices, and high-net worth individuals are comfortable with a 12 to 18-month long track record.

If you can use your old numbers, they’ll need to reflect your investment decisions and show that the strategy used was similar to what you’re using in your new fund.

If you were a research associate at a long-only dividend fund, don’t pretend that your performance there means that you can be the portfolio manager of a long/short international growth strategy fund.

And if you can’t use your old numbers or you’re not coming from the buy-side, invest your personal account with your strategy and have the performance audited by a top firm – expect to pay around $10,000 USD for a Big 4 firm to do it.

As one hedge fund manager told me, “If you can’t afford to audit your performance, you aren’t that good.”

Got Money?

You’ll need initial investors to get going. These initial funds could come from:

  • Your own money
  • Friends and family
  • Family offices
  • University endowments, pension funds, and foundations
  • Hedge Fund seeders
  • Funds-of-Funds

Investors like to see that the managers’ own money is a significant portion of the fund: having skin in the game increases your incentive to perform well.

You investors will probably have to meet the SEC definition of an ‘accredited investor’, although this varies a bit from state to state; international requirements may also be different.

There’s no minimum amount that you have to raise, but you should consider the startup and ongoing costs of the fund, your fee structure, and work backward to a level of assets under management (AUM) that can support that.

As a starting point, most prime brokers won’t work with funds under $5 million in AUM.

The optimal situation is to be a superstar at a traditional firm and get money from them to start your new fund. Hedge fund seeder firms operate the same way: they give you capital in exchange for a portion of your fee income.

And don’t think that your fundraising efforts end when the fund launches: marketing, fundraising, and yes, networking, are crucial to growing your fund.

Even the biggest hedge fund managers with dedicated marketing departments can’t escape it – they’re still brought it at the end of the pitch to close the deal.

Got Office Space?

Some creative ideas for office space:

  • Your house. Ken Griffin started Citadel this way, and Michael Burry of The Big Short ran his fund from home.
  • A hedge fund hotel. Usually set up by prime brokers, managers get office space at below-market rates in exchange for steering brokerage business to the hotel’s host firm.
  • Sharing space with other managers. Make sure you get along and aren’t directly competing with each other.

Renting an office can be a huge expense, especially in financial centers like New York and London, so you’re much better off going with cheaper options when you first start out.

When you get to $100 million in AUM and you have $2 million per year in management fees to cover your office, consider upgrading – but until then, frugality is the name of the game.

Got Service Providers?

Even a single-person hedge fund must rely on a team of external partners to make the fund run. Be prepared to pay for quality – institutional investors will consider the reputation of your service providers a reflection of your credibility.

So if you don’t spend enough on the right providers, you’ll have trouble growing your fund and getting better-known investors on-board. Here’s who you’ll need:


A good attorney should be your first call when you decide to start your own fund. Your fund lawyer will guide you through the whole startup process and provide referrals to other service providers.

Though the best-known hedge fund law firms are in New York, any city with a bulge bracket bank presence will have a local firm or two known for hedge fund law.

The actual hedge fund structure depends on whether your investors are taxable or tax-exempt, whether or not they’re US citizens, and the investment terms. Some points to consider:

  • Fee Structure. The standard fee structure used to be “2 and 20”, meaning a quarterly management fee of 2% and annual performance fee of 20% on the gains. The trend now is for lower management fees and higher performance fees. And some funds are even more aggressive – SAC Capital famously charges “3 and 50,” the highest fees in the industry.
  • Lockup Term. This is the length of time that investors’ money has to remain in the fund before it can be withdrawn. It should match your strategy – a global macro fund trading ETFs all day will have the liquidity to support a short lockup term, whereas an activist fund needs a longer lockup term to reflect the longer time it takes to realize the strategy.
  • Redemption Terms. How much notice do investors need to give when they want to take their money out? Usually funds only allow redemptions at the beginning of an accounting period (quarterly or annually).
  • Performance Targets. Are you trying to outperform a particular index? Is there a rate of return you have to beat before collecting performance fees?

You may have to register as an investment advisor with your state or the SEC if your fund meets certain criteria.

For example, all hedge funds have to register as investment advisors in Louisiana, but funds in Massachusetts are exempt if all of their investors are accredited investors. Outside the US, registration requirements vary wildly so you’ll have to do your own research there.

For a simple hedge fund setup, expect to pay between $10,000 and $50,000. More complicated setups can go into hundreds of thousands of dollars.


Outside auditors will also have to verify your performance on a regular basis, and institutional investors will demand to see that performance before investing money.


An administrator handles the majority of your back office operations, like trade reconciliation and allocation. Again, institutional investors will be looking for a quality, reputable administrator – you can’t ignore this just because it’s “the back office.”


Third-party marketing firms find potential investors and pitch on your behalf. They either work on retainer for a specified time period or get paid a cut of the funds they raise for you.

Prime Broker

Prime Brokers provide leverage, let you borrow securities to short, and custody your assets. They also manage the brokers and dealers you trade through.

Smaller funds (under a billion dollars) may prefer to use an introducing broker, who’s partnered with a major prime broker but who customizes the services for smaller funds.

IT and Technology Providers

You’ll also need Bloomberg terminals (around $1,500 USD per month, each) and possibly other technologies to support all the trades you make.

The good news here is that IT expenses tend to be much lower for fundamentally-oriented funds with little active trading; if you’re a quant fund or you’re doing any kind of automated trading, though, you’ll need serious computing power and serious cash to pay for it.

Got Cash for Yourself?

Don’t expect millions to come rolling in after you flip the switch on for your fund – most managers don’t even pay themselves a salary until their AUM gets big enough for management fees to cover overhead with plenty of room to spare.

And even if they get amazing returns in their first few years, they’ll re-invest most of those performance fees back into growing the fund itself.

In the meantime, you still need a place to live and food to eat. So make sure that you have enough savings or another income source to cover your daily living expenses – and remember that it may take years to establish the AUM you need for long-term success.

What Next?

Raising capital, setting up everything above, and figuring out your strategy are just the first steps of a long and grueling process when starting a successful hedge fund.

You’ll also need to plan your day-to-day strategy, hire investment professionals, and figure out your own exit strategy if things don’t quite work out – all of that and more is coming up in parts 2 and 3 of this series.

Complete Series – How to Start Your Own Hedge Fund:

About the Author

Hetty MacIntyre

grew up in Western Europe and the Deep South before attending a liberal arts college in the Northeast. She worked at a large pension and endowment fund manager before starting her own value-oriented private investment fund.

Break Into Investment Banking

Free Exclusive Report: 57-page guide with the action plan you need to break into investment banking - how to tell your story, network, craft a winning resume, and dominate your interviews

Loading the player...
We respect your email privacy


Read below or Add a comment

  1. am starting a fund, I think I do want to use an incubator fund. I would like to know either the best way to proceed I.e. 1st step, 2nd step and so on. Or a good guide on how to move forward

    1. This series is all we have on the topic: (Parts 1 – 4 at the bottom)

  2. Hi,

    I am in the process of setting up a hedge fund based out of the USA and I am looking for turn key solutions for the administration and operations.

    I already have enough capital secured/very strong LP network and doing all the investment decisions solo but I want a legit turn key partner to take care of all the legal/operations/execution platform etc.

    Thank you,


  3. Lets assume some person in their early 20s is sitting in his parents basement with 20K+ and has been beating the market every year for the past 3 years. This person may be the best living investor…… How do they start a fund today and act now and prove it to the world with legal fees that are sky high and people saying you need at least 50million to start a fund?

    Further, just for discussion sake, why do the start up costs need to be so high? why can’t the aforementioned person just spend a couple grand on setting up the legal structure, raise $2million from family and friends and continue operating the investments from the basement while distributing profits accordingly? Does it really need to be more complex than this?

    Thoughts and opinions on these items?

    1. If you don’t want outside investors, i.e. you just want to keep it a family office, it doesn’t need to be complicated or time-consuming. But the rules differ once you start accepting outside capital, even if it’s from family/friends. The best way to start a fund today is to work in the industry, build a track record at a large firm, and then spin off to do your own thing.

  4. Hi

    I m in a situation where i find very little info on how to go forward.

    We ( my partner and myself) founded a hedge fund and we have a good track record. We are beating our benchmark index massively.

    We currently manage 10 million but we find it hard to grow as we have no more connections to raise any more assets.

    How can we increase aum?

    Thank you so much for any advise

    1. M&I - Nicole

      Perhaps hiring a HF investor relations person who has an existing rolodex of LPs onboard? This may help.

      1. Thank you for your response.

        How would i get in touch with such people?

        Can you recomend any ways to penetrate this industry of fund raising?

        Its frustrating when you get the numbers, have a strong philosophy and yet not many contacts.

        1. M&I - Nicole

          I’d look for such contacts on LinkedIn using target keywords like hedge fund investor relations.

  5. Hello,

    I really want to start my own HF later. However I’m still deciding on what I’ll do first. So there are 2 options: trying to get a job as a trader or as an investment banker. I’m interested in normal trading but also in value investing. So which of those 2 career paths will give me the most credibility to start a Hedge Fund later on? Also considering I’ll neef to develop a solid strategy.

    Kind regards,

    1. Either one could work, it really depends on the strategies and roles you want to pursue. Trading is better for global macro-type strategies and execution trading, but IB is better for fundamental analysis and investment analysis roles rather than execution trading.

      1. Ok, thank you very much Brian!
        Also, I’m at a non-target. What would work out best for me do you think? Going for the IB path or try to jump straight into HF. Btw the university I’m attending isn’t a target but it is the best university in the country if that would make any difference.

        1. IB is generally quite tough to get into from non-target schools, so it might be better to go directly to a hedge fund if you can do so (varies a lot by fund, strategy, geography, etc.).

  6. Great article!
    I am a recent grad and hope to start my own fund eventually. I know it is impossible for me to start a hedge fund right now, simply because of the capital requirement and the lack of network I have. I have been interviewed with different investment banks and hedge funds, but few of them interested in derivative trading outside of hedging. I don’t know what to do now.
    Just a brief background of myself: I have been trading on ETFs and options for more than 5 years, and have a background in strategic consulting and entrepreneurship. Recently I have developed a model that can structure a fixed-income-like portfolio using options, and have a target return of 1-3% per month. Although the model has only been tested for three months, over the period, I only made one losing trade, and have an average monthly return of 4.6%.
    I am just wondering if I should become a class B remote trader in one of the prop shops. I know they often require a certain amount of risk capitals, membership and desk fees, I am not sure if they worth it. However, besides this, I don’t know what other options I have to get a proven track record.

  7. My performance in my personal portfolio:

    Average Annualized Returns

    2008 through 2013:

    Me: 10.1%
    S&P 500: 3.5%
    Warren Buffett (BRK.A): 3.9%

    2009 through 2013:

    Me: 21.3%
    S&P 500: 15.4%
    Warren Buffett (BRK.A): 13.0%

    Should I nix the idea of starting a fund if I cannot get investors? If so, should I consider working for a fund? If so, can you provide suggestions on what I should do next?

    1. M&I - Nicole

      Yes I may work for a fund and build your track record and network there before you start your own fund, unless you already have the network.

  8. I am in doubt whether Bussiness administratio or economics to manage a fund?

    1. M&I - Nicole

      Both can, it depends on your work experience and track record, not your major…

  9. Gopal Raj Kumar

    This is a bit like how to become a “he man” and the different ways in which the late Charles Atlas promoted his how to books. Very amateurish.

    I first came to New York from Australia with an Australian Law degree and a financial Masters degree from an average university here. To boot I looked very Indian and the suit I wore “WAS INDIAN”. Made in Mumbai before I reached New York.

    I applied to any firm that was on the directory list and eventually got a response from a brokerage firm in downtown New York (not quite the street). They were very Jewish. Risk taking was in their DNA. I think they felt pity for me and said I sounded very British (that’s because my first degree as from England).

    I was offered a job back office and answering the phone sometimes. During a birthday celebration for one of the partners about a month after I joined (and no one took notice of me), one of the partners took me aside and said I think you have potential from the side report and analysis you have written.

    These reports were internal and “for your eyes only” reports. Someone wanted me to prove I was worth the mediocre salary but big opportunity I was offered and made me do these reports.

    One of the internal reports I wrote considered the very thin grey line between “insider trading” and the type of information that when used is a breach of the section dealing with insider trading in the US.

    I got introduced to various other players from other firms but none from the big firms on the street. These were the same type as the one I was now working with.

    6 months later I met someone who wanted me to execute some trades for his client through the firm. He called me two days after drinks at a well known New York Bar for the sociopaths of Wall Street.

    I examined closely the request, the orders, the significant quantum of the order and as I had already been trading with someone within the firm (his offside and watchman) I spoke to him in hypothetical terms. He asked if it was real and said there were “players out there” scouting for “patsies” and asked me to be careful. I called the spook and said yes but on condition he set up an account in the British Virgin Islands for which I gave him details. We had 24 hours to go on the trade. I called the partner I had earlier been praised by and told him what I was about to do and that I could give him and his firm an indemnity if anything went wrong.

    The commission to me was potentially $350,000 for the trade. I would split it with the firm. I went ahead and executed the trade before the 24 hours was up. The BVI account had not yet been set up for me.

    The trades (a buy of a specific stock) was made alongside another buy of something more modest and predictable. They both went up phenomenally. I made a huge amount on reinvesting a part of my $350,000 commission and received a call from the SEC and from a partner.

    The SEC had begun an investigation on the stock I had executed on behalf of the spook. They simply wanted to know the basis upon which I had place my “bet” as they called it. My response was that it was on the same basis I had purchased the other stock. They went away. There was only one tapped phone record of 7 minutes.

    I lasted there 10 months and took an office near the street and began using the same spool for some time. Its all about connections. I never went down because I had an offshore office who used to supply me with trend lines, market analysis, comparisons and other stuff on any stock I wanted to know anything about. When the FBI came down on the spook who worked for a very big fund he did not have the research and analysis to back up his stories. He was recently sentenced for a number of years in jail.

    I now am part owner of the Research Institute in Mumbai that provides select clients (mainly individual traders, institutional brokers and hedge funds) with the information on a regular basis.

    If you want to trade and make big money don’t look to the big firms unless you are exceptional. And you don’t need to be “exceptional” to trade or create a successful hedge fund. These days you need many small investors and their credit cards to move the markets. Just make sure you have the back office (or a good software and back up people) and street men to get the money coming in working for you. That’s where the new money is.

    Trading is about hustling and information.

  10. so much legislation and so many people taking fees along the way, I fail to see how the client actually makes any profit.

  11. very interesting article. This article is the exact information that i wanted to know. Thanks a lot , writer. ^^ However, As you write, to establish Hedge fund,I have to contract with broker. So would you please tell how to met and where can I met prime broker? Also what should I do first when meeting Prime broker?

    1. M&I - Nicole

      Most banks have prime brokerage divisions and you may want to contact banks.
      You may find the article below useful:

  12. When establishing a hedge fund (after the legal structure is in place) during the process of seeking investors, is it common practice to actively invest during the initial fundraising efforts or is it more common to raise X dollars and then begin investing? For example, if a fund desires to start with $5M AUM and they’ve secured $2M so far, should that fund start investing that $2M or is it a more common approach to keep that $2M in cash until the remaining $3M is found? Thanks!

  13. Hi there, I have a couple questions based on the following assumptions: Let’s say a hedge fund has $10M AUM and, for simplicity’s sake, owns just 3 stocks (and cash). S1 (stock 1) is worth $4M, S2 is $3M, S3 is $2M, cash is $1M. The fund has 5 investors… I1 (investor 1) valued at $3.5M, I2 at $3M, I3 at $1.5M, I4 at $1.5M, and I5 at $0.5M.

    My first question is what happens when a new investor invests $2M into the fund. The new AUM would be $12M, but how would that impact the ownership of the existing investors? Assuming the new $2M isn’t invested immediately and is held as cash (so total cash of the portfolio is now $3M) would that effectively increase the cash holding percentage of all investors and, in turn, decrease the weight of their stock holdings?

    Further, let’s say the new $2M is invested and split equally among S1 and S2 ($1M added to each so S1 is now worth $5M and S2 is worth $4M), how would that impact the holdings of each investor?

    Thanks in advance for answering – your help is much appreciated!

    1. Hi Mark, I was having the very similar thought at the beginning. After some research on the topic I found out it’s not that complicated, you need to write this up in your limited partnership contract/letter that you only allow any of the limited partner add/reduce their investment every end of the month(or quarter/year depends on you) and you need to figure out the total asset value from your brokerage firm every period(m/q/y). I allow my investors to add only beginning of the month.
      So, for ex. a $100 AUM consist of

      A invested $30, B : $60, C : $10

      Jan begin value: $100
      Jan end value: $120 (up 20% for the month)

      A decided to add $20

      A next month beginning balance is $30 * 1.2 + $20 = $56
      B next month beginning balance is $60 * 1.2 = $72
      C next month beginning balance is $10 * 1.2 = $12

      New total Partnership AUM is $56 + $72 + $12 = $140 which is exactly as $120 + $20 (the new fund)

      Then you can just repeat the same process even with new partner join in the process is the same.

      1. Thanks for the input, James. I’ve got another question regarding shares of a fund. When selling shares of the fund initially is there a standard price a fund chargers per share (say, $1 or $10)? And is there a finite number of shares or does the number of shares simply increase with each new investor?

        1. Basically this is how open ended mutual funds worked, mutual fund start with certain number of shares and sell for $10/share, they recalculate their total net asset value everyday and divide by the share outstanding. All buy and sell happen end of the day but for a small partnership to provide day-to-day recalculation probably be to cumbersome monthly operation would be less paperwork. You can check out one of the private partnership blog @ www dot barelkarsan dot com under “The Fund” page

  14. After two years of kicking an idea around, we’re finally taking steps to set up our fund. Your article has been further enlightening in addition to all the conversations and reading I’ve immersed myself in.

    Our fund strategy has NOTHING to do with any type of securities — which caused our attorney and our prospective fund administrator to ask lots of questions. Now, they’re fully on board after we explained that we can double money every 60-90 days like clockwork.

    I’m pretty excited about the future… and hope to come back and share a great success story with you guys here later.

    1. M&I - Nicole

      Thanks for your input. I’m glad you find our article useful to you.

  15. This was a great article.

    1. M&I - Nicole

      Thank you for visiting M&I!

  16. Hi thanks for the article. Could we setup a LLC with say $10K and a limited partnership where the LLC is the general partner with $1 and say for ex. $100K of my friends money to start this whole hedge fund thing? I read something about Warren Buffett first 10 years when he started out by himself. Can we still do this?

    1. It is almost impossible to start with that amount of money these days. See the next few articles in this series (the next ones are coming soon). Long story short, anything less than $100 million would be very difficult to start a fund with in 2013 and beyond.

      1. Hi Brian, I just stumbled upon this discussion, and found it to be very informative. I am considering setting up a small fund with AUM of <$10mm as my current strategy won't support anything beyond that. I am planning to raise capital mostly from hedge fund seeders and the remaining portion will be from friends and family.

        My question to you is, 1) what do you mean when you say it's very difficult to start a fund with anything less than $100mm? 2) If you think I;m on the right track, do you think hedge fund seeders will consider me for seed capital depending on my track record? Thanks!

  17. thomas Johnson

    I am currently in the retail industry getting a degree in finance part time. I have been in the retail industry for about 15 years working for various retailers; by the time I complete my degree in finance I will be 50. I want to go into buy side equity research and then after getting my CFA and possibly MBA. Would like to start my own Hedge Fund which I am figuring I will be about 60 years old once I have gotten about 10 years experience in the industry. My question is is this an unrealistic goal being that once I start in the finance realm I will already be 50 years old; since most of my co workers will be at least 25 years younger than me? Will the top Hedge Fund companies even consider me because of my age? Will equity research firms even consider me?

    1. M&I - Nicole

      If you have had experience in the retail industry, I presume you have solid operational experience. You may want to check out PE firms that may be interested in this background

      You may be on the older end re HF roles, but you can still give it a shot. You’ll just have to be very good at the markets and show results, almost immediately.

  18. fernando

    Hi, I would like to know how to get my personal investment account audited. Should I contact any of the big 4 or how can I do it.

    1. M&I - Nicole

      I am not 100% sure but a CPA should be able to help you. I think big 4’s division serving individuals may be able to help you. Otherwise, I’d go for smaller independent auditors

  19. Great insight article. I am curious on the operation side: what is the typical hedge fund in terms of number of employees/founders? My thought goes this way: say average worker pay is $350K/yr (analyst, trader, etc included), payroll is easy to reach $2M mark annually if there are more 3 founder/employees included. That means $100M AUM. I haven’t count office cost, IT, etc yet. These numbers seem unrealistic. Is my math way off? I would suspect the average pay $350K is too high for $100M fund.

    Checking the links on Barron’s there are a lot funds have much less than $100M AUM. How do they survive? Is there real example how the funds are run?

    1. M&I - Nicole

      I am not 100% sure regarding the numbers, but the average pay you suspected wouldn’t be too high – it depends on your level and your performance I believe.

      In regards to your last question, I don’t have a real example of how the funds are run, though this should address why some smaller funds outperform the market. “Fearing failure, new managers are determined to generate strong returns, according to Mr Ellsworth. And less encumbered by the size of their asset bases, in sluggish markets where liquidity is constrained, smaller funds navigate better, take on niche investments and adjust positions more quickly than larger funds.”

  20. So when was this article published or the comments posted ? I don’t see a single timestamp on the page

    1. M&I - Nicole

      Late 2011. Just over a year ago.

  21. Thanks for sharing, this is really helpful.
    It seems that track record is the most important in persuading prospective investors. However, one of the most important disclaimer in fund management is “past performance is not indicative of future results”. If this is the case, isn’t track record not a useful tool in attracting investors?

    1. M&I - Nicole

      There’s always an element of uncertainty; I think fund houses put this disclaimer there so investors would have an understanding that despite their decent track record, there may be a few misses. If the fund underperforms (vs. past performance), investors can’t pursue legal action given this disclaimer. I may be wrong here. Track record is the most important aspect of attracting investors of course, but it is not a guarantee that the fund will perform well going forward.

  22. Hi, I’m thinking of starting a tiny hedge fund with less than a million AUM would you recommend that?
    Its mostly my own money and to find clients will take some time I do not have and I have also a question about Track Records, what should a Track record look like? Just a account excerpt? And all single trades that have been made?

    I will Trade only currencies can I do that on any Market or is it better to do that only on a Exchange like the CBOT/CME?



    1. M&I - Nicole

      This article should answer your questions on track record – I believe it details the fund performance since its inception (or your performance of managing a previous fund since you were there).

      Please refer to for your last question.

  23. You say in the beginning “you haven’t picked the best time to start a hedge fund.” Yet, you don’t even have a date as to when this article was written.

    1. This was written just over a year ago (late 2011).

  24. I am starting a hedge fund. all the legal work is currently done by an associate at Skadden. When should I start to hire an in-house counsel?

    1. Not sure of that one, but I don’t think you need an in-house counsel until you get significantly bigger… perhaps $100M+ AUM, but I could be wrong. Anyone else feel free to correct this.

    2. Guys I’m in Uganda. Hedge funds are a rare thing in Africa. Only South Africa has a few of them. In my country we have none. Our stock market has only 14 stocks and only 2 of those are liquid.
      I have a desire to start a hedge fund here but I really don’t know where to start. There exists no legislation for such alternative investments and people are ignorant of high finance. Any advice?

      1. You would have to move to a different country/continent to have a realistic chance at doing it. It’s too underdeveloped in Africa (even South Africa) at the moment.

  25. I majored in economics at Dartmouth, taking an internship at a top hedge fund for all summers. I then worked there as an analyst for three year. I am now at Turk. Do I have enough experience to start a hedge fund right when I graduate?

    1. Depends on your long-term investing record… I believe usually you need more experience than summer internships to do this.

      1. I do have more experience; after college and before business school, I worked there as an analyst for three years.

        1. OK. Maybe, but most likely you will need a partner with a much longer track record… 3 years still isn’t a whole lot vs. people who have been doing it for decades.

          1. Wait, but aren’t “institutional investors comfortable with a three year-long track record”?

          2. Yes, but that assumes you were in a more senior role at the fund and/or had more decision-making power.

            I have never started a fund before, so I do not know the specifics.

            However, we are extending this series in the future and will be answering questions like the ones you raised. The author here will be answering those detailed questions and telling you more about specifically what’s required, so I would encourage you to read that upcoming set of articles.

  26. Dear Brian,
    My husband has been a hedge fund lawyer at a top law firm for eight years. He made partner about a year ago. He wants to start his own hedge fund. Does he have enough experience? If not, what can he do to gain experience?

    1. Depends on his investment track record – if he doesn’t have one, it will be very tough regardless. He needs to come up with trading/investing strategies that work at scale and use evidence of that to raise funds.

  27. “For a simple hedge fund setup, expect to pay between $10,000 and $50,000. More complicated setups can go into hundreds of thousands of dollars.”
    Do you mean pay the lawyer $10-$50000?

    1. I believe that is the total fee required for the lawyer + all other registration requirements.

  28. I have a question. I want to set up a hedge fund around an options strategy that has been working personally for 6+ months. My 2 main questions are: 1. What is the best way to set it all up offshore. If we only took expat money ans only from sophisticated investors not in the usa and 2. To keep costs down can I not just start a company somewhere offshore, open an account with interactive brokers and start?

  29. Hi

    This may be asking out of turn, but what return on investment do most hedge funds average per annum? What is considered exceptional performance?

  30. AuM, had become so overwhelming issue, and most books and articles are so negative for start-ups.
    Mind as-well watch CNN!

  31. Hi: I’m investigating utilizing my own rollover IRA to invest. Does anyone have any info/insight regarding using an IRA to fund personal HF, forming C-corp. and paying myself a salary? Appreciate it – thanks

    1. M&I - Nicole

      I think readers may have better insights to your questions.

  32. Mr.Ambitious

    Is it easier to start up a hedge fund with an analyst background or with a trader background?

    1. M&I - Nicole

      Good question. I think it depends on your track record and the network of investors you know (unless you already have assets you can put in the HF)

  33. Jason McDaniel

    I’m a young guy who wants to get into hedge funds one day and I wanted to ask do they recruit at graduate business schools like Columbia, Harvard, or Wharton?

    1. M&I - Nicole

      Yes they do

  34. hi great article, just some questions i would like to ask.
    do hedge funds have to receive outside money or can the capital all come from one person. E.g say a person has $50 mill, could you basically run a one man hedge fund or is there really no point in doing so.

    1. M&I - Nicole

      Great question. I believe most HFs have various source of capital though some investors may invest more than others. There may be certain rules and regulations on the # of investors etc. I’d suggest you to refer to sources such as

  35. Hetty et al,

    Thanks for the great article. Can you provide any resources for learning more about audits of past performance? Is there an equivalent process for real estate portfolios? I’ve worked in boutique RE PE for years and am thinking of starting my own fund or REIT, so I’m curious how someone would go about demonstrating RE acumen.

  36. Hello m&i,

    I am a young adult (19-21) and I was wondering how I coul go about starting a hedge fund. I have a massive knowledge about finance and I am an excellent trader. How would someone go about starting a hedge fund as a teenager. I have been thinking about starting a fake portfolio to should investors that I am able to make money. I am motivated to do this a need the steps I should take. I don’t want to here people say you can’t do it. Please tell me how you would do it if you had to. It would be much appreciated!!Will my age make it impossible to do this or is it possible? Lastly, where should I be looking for investors and how do I get the bank to leverage my fund?

    1. M&I - Nicole

      I’d suggest you to work for a HF first before you contemplate starting your own fund!

  37. I am a computer guy and I have a partner who is a portfolio manager. We plan to start a HF, based on algo trading that I implemented. I worked on it for about 2 years, and recently started discussing forming a company / a HF with that other gentleman. He is prepared to invest $100K of his own funds into the HF, however when I asked if the 1% mgt fee + 20% of profit will be paid to our company out of his investment returns, he said “founders’ investments don’t get charged any fees”. I disagree with that based on the fact that most of the HF will be based on my work, and I expect him to pay to the company as if that money would be from outside investors, or possible a bit discounted. What do you think is fair/proper approach – let him “ride free” with his investment or charge the funds some reasonable fees?

    1. M&I - Nicole

      I believe readers will have better insights into your question

    2. It is OK to charge a seed investor some fees. They can be lower than standard though. 1/20 sounds reasonable to me. If you have sufficient funds to support infrastructure and fixed costs then you may offer 0/25, i.e. you get only a portion of the profit and no fixed charges.

      Alternatively a seed investor can be offered a stake in an advisor.

  38. Great Article … Was part II of this ever released?

  39. How exactly do Bloomberg terminals work? I know they give a user specific market information, stock info etc. But does the Bloomberg terminal have to be linked to a prime broker in order to carry out trades?

    1. Not 100% certain of that one, but yes I believe it needs to be linked to a prime broker… if you don’t have that, you can never trade substantial volume. So it’s a critical component for all trading firms / HFs. Other than that, they let you pull up tons of real-time information on stock and bond pricing, performance, yields, and more.

  40. What exactly do hedge fund managers and their employees do during the trading day? Is the hedge fund just watching the markets and analyzing how their strategy is playing out or are there trading desks where traders have their own P&L? I know there are jobs for traders at hedge funds, but what exactly do they do?

  41. Hetty – thank you very much for writing this. Right now, I am thinking about starting my own hedge fund. Why?

    ‘… you’d better have a novel, workable idea’

    I think I have some.

    ‘you need to show that you have a different way of executing those strategies with a repeatable process’

    I think I can.

    I’ve had a lot of ideas this year, some of them just minor thoughts, but some I’m in the middle of developing into a tangible strategy, which I can later test.

    Do you hear a lot of kids (I’m in my early-mid 20s) say that they’ve got profitable trading strategies? What usually happens to them?

    1. M&I - Nicole

      Hetty might have better answers for you. I personally haven’t heard of many though I’ve heard of few. Don’t know what will happen to them after cause they are still trading now!

    2. M&I - Hetty

      I know plenty of young people who eventually want to run a fund, but know that they have to really develop their track records and strategies first. Try working at a fund with a strategy similar to what you have in mind first, perform well, work your way up to running some money for them and then you can make your move to implement your own strategy.

      1. Hi Hetty,
        I have to ask a related question and would love for your advice.

        For many years, I have wanted to start my own fund for very unconventional reasons. It could be a hedge fund or private investment fund. Here’s the catch. I can raise about 50k max, have no connections, have no 4.0 GPA from top schools, and have no related work experience.

        The only experience I have is that I am a retail forex trader for 6-7 years, but my track record is horrendous.
        It was only in recent months that I decided to be more disciplined and started tracking and managing my account’s progress.

        Many of what you do in a day is what I do for my little account, and I enjoy it. But without 10 out of 10 requirements you mentioned, my dream seems to be getting out of reach. What do you suggest I do?

        1. Go work at a bigger fund first – with that amount of capital and no connections, you can’t really start your own HF. We’re running additional parts in this series very soon, and you’ll see what it takes nowadays (several years post-financial crisis and regulations).

  42. What are “Hedge Fund seeders” and can you give examples of some Hedge Fund seeders?

    1. M&I - Nicole

      Investors who invest in HFs. Examples – think of HNW individuals, SWFs etc (I’d suggest you to refer to online sources to check what these terms mean)

      1. M&I - Hetty

        There are also seeder firms that will give you a large amount of money to manage in exchange for a stake in the management company — i.e., they get a cut of the management and performance fees.

  43. I just lol’d at “inquisitor.”

  44. Your website has literally been shaping and guiding my career path since my college days. Your website is by far the most comprehensive source for anything finance related. Not to mention, your articles provide the most depth and insight regarding some of the most pressing questions/issues within the financial industry. This past article was just fantastic.. Where else on the internet are you going to find a road map for starting your own hedge fund?? If my future hedge fund hits it big, I almost feel bound to make a donation to this site. Thanks again for providing me and countless other young finance professionals with direction and advice.

    1. Thanks! Also, FYI, I (Brian) did not write this, Hetty, one of our contributors did, and also I have a real name (Brian, not Inquisitor – dropped that in 2008/2009).

      1. I always thought Inquisitor was such a catchy name (especially for this site) though, but I guess Brian’s a great name as well. Also, why did you get rid of the noose? That background was subtle wittiness at its best, yet still very appropriate for this industry…

  45. Would a hedge fund with 50 million AUM be considered moderately big and how would the management play put for smaller funds with less then 100 AMU?

    1. M&I - Hetty

      $50M AUM is a good amount to raise in this environment if you don’t have institutional backing but is by no means ‘big’. Most prime brokers think you’re big once you have $1BN AUM. It also depends where you are — $50M in nothing in the NYC/Conn/Boston corridor but substantial in Dallas.

      Can you clarify what you mean about how the management would play out (I think that’s what you mean) for funds <$100M? Are you asking about personnel, fee structure, economics, something else?

      1. For the second part of the question i was meaning more along the lines of how is management compensated on a personal scale. Thanks.

        1. Theoretically, 2% of $100MM = $2 million but in reality a good portion of those fees will be eaten up by infrastructure, employees, and other expenses. You would still probably get something in the six-figure range but you usually won’t make a ton just from management fees until you get bigger.

  46. Great article. It’ll be great if you could publish an article on setting up a PE fund.

    1. M&I - Hetty

      Hedge Funds, PE funds, and VC funds have the same legal structure and fall under the same SEC registration requirements. PE funds would need a higher AUM to get off the ground and would need access to capital for deals (LBOs, etc), unlike HFs.

  47. “if you’re a quant fund or you’re doing any kind of automated trading, though, you’ll need serious computing power and serious cash to pay for it.”

    actually i disagree on this one. it really depends on the trading strategy – whether automated or not.

    1. M&I - Hetty

      You’re right — so much about a fund’s overhead depends on the strategy and execution method. Data feeds get more expensive as you get into more niche markets.

  48. Well i have read a bit of ‘Boomerang’ by michael lewis.He talked about his friend Kyle Bass.Bass made a fortune in wall street before the crash of about 10 Million USD , went back to texas ,raised another 500 million USD and started his hedge fund.And now he owns a ranch and guns , uses the latter to shoot racoons everyday
    I think this article has broken up very well the resources required and the ground reality

    1. Hey yeah, I just read that. Apparently he was a bond salesman before he went off to do his own thing.

  49. Great article – very interesting to read about the practical nature of setting up a fund. More articles like this would be greatly appreciated!

    1. Thanks! More on HFs coming up in the near future.

  50. Great article. What would be some examples of investment strategies? I’m just starting to read about investing so I’d like an example or two of commonly known investment strategies.


    1. Examples: global macro (predicting things like FX rates, commodity prices, etc. based on global trends), long/short equity (buying / selling stocks based on valuation and/or events), event-driven (trading based on M&A activity or other special events), relative value (see the value investing article).

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *