by Hetty MacIntyre Comments (35)

How to Start Your Own Hedge Fund: A Day in the Life at Your New Start-Up Fund

Your Own Hedge Fund - Day in the LifeYou’ve lost your mind and decided to launch a hedge fund.

We’ll be optimistic here and assume that you’ve actually managed to raise enough capital, get all the legal and infrastructure stuff taken care of, and that your trading strategy still produces solid returns.

So what will your average day look like now?

Like everything with hedge funds, it depends: it depends on your strategy, the size of your organization, and your stage in the fundraising cycle, among other things.

Here’s a realistic day in the life for my research-driven value fund:

6:00 AM

Wake up. Check smartphone before rolling out of bed to scan headlines coming out of Asia and Europe. Glance at inbox to size up what chunk of my day will be consumed by correspondence.

Eat breakfast with the Wall Street Journal. Actually read it.

Listen to the BBC’s Wake Up to Money podcast at the gym and on my commute to round out my information on European markets. It’s more interesting than anything on CNBC 90% of the time.

7:00 AM

Arrive at the office. Read news related to positions I currently hold and am following. As I read all this news, I take notes on what’s interesting, what to follow-up on, and what could affect my portfolio.

A colleague brings by the daily holdings and performance report from our prime broker. There was a big move in the GBP overnight that leaves us more exposed than we’d like to be.

I ask him to call our prime broker to sell the excess currency and get the allocation back on target.

We don’t trade currency as a primary strategy, so we don’t have the capacity to handle this in-house.

There are a lot of securities I’d like us to trade ourselves, but the required infrastructure is too expensive for our current size, so we rely heavily on outside traders.

7:30 AM

Meet with the team to finalize the day’s game plan. This is possibly the most important part of the day, as it determines our research and trading priorities.

A lot of our positions have upcoming corporate actions (bankruptcy hearings, spinouts, etc.), so I need to stay on top of events as they unfold.

We go around pitching new ideas and decide what to pursue. Unlike a traditional asset management firm, we don’t divide people up by industry coverage.

We’re looking for asymmetric opportunities across industries/market caps/geographies/asset classes, so we have to be generalists.

An analyst who watches our screens for ideas presents some companies with massively underfunded pensions and declining earnings as potential shorts. I pick out the most promising names and divvy up the research. We’re off to our desks with plans in hand.

Of course, this plan can be blown to smithereens if the market opens down 300 points.

8:30 AM – 9:30 AM

Work on current holdings. One of them just announced a rights offering, so I build that into my model to see what the capital structure will look like and whether we want to participate.

9:30 AM

US markets open. If things are generally stable, I’ll just keep working through my game plan for the rest of the morning.

There’s an interesting merger underway with the potential to shake a bunch of weird securities, so I spend a few hours reading through the filings to understand the merger terms and the two companies being merged.

10:00 AM

A trader stops in to tell me that one of our positions has been hit with a regulatory action by the EPA. I stop researching the merger to figure out what’s going on with the EPA.

We determine it’s not of real concern since the company has ten times the amount of cash it needs to pay the highest possible fine.

11:00 AM

An equity salesperson calls to pitch a secondary offering in a company I was looking at months ago. No way – it’s a total disaster.

11:30 AM

Eat lunch while reading the merger agreement. They’re paying for part of it in warrants – put those on game plan for tomorrow. Time to fundraise!

1:00 PM

Have call with potential investor. He’s very well-connected and could catapult the fund to the top institutions.

He drills me with questions about our strategy, our risk management, our infrastructure and back office, and whether we have the capacity to take a lot of new money.

If that last issue seems odd to you, scalability is a common problem. A fund focused on microcap stocks can’t take meaningful positions with more than a few hundred million under management because they’d move the market.

On the other hand, it’s hard to succeed as an activist fund without a few billion in the bank.

Large investors are frightened that their contribution will decrease your ability to execute your strategy and they won’t reap the performance that attracted them in the first place.

2:00 PM

That company with the possible EPA fine? It just got worse. The stock is down 15% and the Justice Department has issued its own inquiry into the matter.

It’s going to get ugly – I pull everyone from their desks to figure out who knows what and how we can find out more. It’s a huge position for us and we’re losing money every second, but it could also be a great buying opportunity if the market is overreacting.

I want a decision by 3:30 PM so we can act.

3:00 PM

I’m looking through old EPA court cases to get a sense of how these things progress. History is telling me that the actual fines wind up being far less than expected and our company will have no problem paying.

Nonetheless, the stock’s down another 7%. We go ahead and buy more.

4:00 PM

Markets close. Other than our environmentally unaware company, our positions remained relatively flat, which is a relief.

I call our prime broker to make sure we’re set up to act on those merger warrants if we decide to pull the trigger. Luckily, no new paperwork is required.

I round up the team for a meeting to see how everyone’s progressed on their research projects. Most ideas end up as duds and there’s only one idea left from today’s list that I want to keep an eye on.

We go over our end-of-day screeners and pull a few names for tomorrow’s agenda.

5:00 PM

Back at my desk, I have time to do uninterrupted research for two hours. What does all this research entail?

For us, we look at everything: SEC filings, court documents, industry publications, sell side research, and our own meetings with management.

It’s easy to read the first page of a bankruptcy with a critical and energized mind, but by the time page 57 rolls around? That’s where most people drop off.

Our strategy requires knowing the nooks and crannies of everything we hold and that means a high level of engagement with all of these documents.

7:00 PM

Dinner party organized by a hedge fund service provider for new managers. Sad, but not surprising: I’m the only woman in the group of 30.

We talk shop and it seems like everyone’s had a rough quarter except for us. It’s nice to catch up with some peers and network with new folks – odds are that most of our funds won’t be around in three years.

9:00 PM

Head home and straight for my desk to do some paperwork. Running a fund isn’t just portfolio management: it’s a small business. I have to make sure that our bills are getting paid on time and our operating accounts are up to date.

10:00 PM

Outline ideas for the quarterly investor letter. I like to draw back the curtain a bit and talk about a few of our positions.

The challenge now is talking about this EPA fine without inducing panic in our investors – if we get a lot of redemptions at once, it would severely cripple us.

I respond to non-urgent emails from that morning. My friends want to organize a weeklong ski vacation, but at this point I can’t take that much time away from the fund.

11:00 PM

Go to sleep excited about the weekend, not because I have awesome plans, but because I can focus on research in the five-hour stretches I like without any market distractions.

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.

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  1. Sorry the below comment was not meant as a brag, I just don’t know where to turn. Wanted to see if the author or contributors might be able to advise on what I ought to do.



  2. Ahh man – I wish I had some of my performance better tracked.
    I’m interested in starting something potentially.

    I have a record, with some decent results. Mostly looking for stocks over the mid term (1 to 5 year holdings) returning minimum of 50% in that time frame, but more optimistically 100% minimum. I’ve achieved this several times over the past 10 years in the following cases:

    Growth plays

    Dominoes Pizza – went up 1000%, I was in and out of it but captured a decent amount (at the time I subscribed to value philosophy worries that a 40PE was too high, so I sold and bought a few times) of the gain. I didn’t make that mistake again, and held firm with 32red, Dunelm and Bdev.

    Dunelm – Went up over 200%, and with special divis, closer to 300% over 5 years
    Prezzo (before it was bought out) something over 200%
    32 Red (before it was bought out) up over 300% in 2 years

    Cyclical plays

    Bdev – Barrat developments – My riskiest and boldest move – buying Bdev at 100p ( I had seen it at 75p, but was a bit worrid at the time in my analysis) Later sold for about 150% gain, still had a bit left in – It went to over 500p.

    Bdev CFD – borrowed £200k on a CFD, made £6k in 3-4 days. 2 weeks later the Grexit risk wiped out the £6k, not keen to do many CFDs in the future.

    Slow & Steady

    Disney – up well over 50%


    Boohoo- up over 700% in 3 years wanted to go in, but just bought a property. Publicly recommended via Stockmendation.

    Notable failings

    Fish – fishing republic went busto on the end of the retail bubble that’s popping.
    Cake – Patisserie valerie has had a recent accountancy scandal
    Tesco – Buying a similar time to Warren Buffett, this was one of my worst investments, made about 10% over 6 years.

    All of the above were fairly low holdings, greatest holdings were in Dominoes, Dunelm, 32Red.
    Overall did well enough to buy a house, which was my primary purpose of equities. But since, I’ve been thinking – I can do this with more capital. I could easily have bet big on Bdev and Boohoo. I was very close to borrowing £50,000-£100,000 on credit cards to buy Dominoes Pizza (Uk), but was wanted against it (If I had the stake would be worth a good amount!

    I love stock picking, and think I have some talent for it. But, I also have a great career in Marketing. I have always done stocks part time, and beaten the market in many years. I have found some stand out stocks part time. Wondering what your advice might be? I might consider managing money more than part time, but I don’t know if it’s me. I have always done maybe 5 hours research a month and picked awesome stocked based on either bottom up, cyclical, industry knowledge or just dumb luck > dunelm my mom shopped at, for example.

    I’m hoping to get small amounts of capital ( i guess anywhere from £300,000-£5M+) and manage it the way I’ve done, to get good results with growth, value & cyclical plays.

    I’ve got some great value growth plays I have found but again I lack capital.

    Any advice would be super helpful

    Jake W

    1. The problem is that you are trading small amounts of money to get those results. Any hedge fund PM could record huge gains if he/she were only managing £200k or something well below the hundreds of millions / billions level. Returns get much tougher once you get to that level because you need to find good, big ideas rather than just good ideas. This is why Warren Buffett’s returns have come down over time as well.

      Also, as discussed in this entire series, starting and running a hedge fund is just as much about running a small business as it is about stock picking or other investing. You could be the best stock picker in the world, but if you don’t know how to manage a business, you won’t get anywhere. You also need far more than £5M to start a fund in today’s environment.

      If you really want to do this, the best option is to use your results to join a well-known hedge fund or asset management firm, prove yourself in a team there, and then spin off into a separate fund. Or join a multi-strategy fund (search this site for coverage).

  3. How do you get ready for the day, eat, read the newspaper, go to the gym and commute to work in 1 hour?

    1. Haven’t you seen 24? Come on, Jack Bauer could do this easily…

      In all seriousness, I think it’s because she lived literally right next door to the gym and work and only did very short cardio at the gym or something.

    2. Avatar
      Draymond Green

      I jumped to the comments section solely to confirm I wasn’t crazy for wondering this

  4. Hi Hetty,

    Great article! I am also a value-oriented investor who recently graduated and is trying to break into asset management. Is it possible that I could send you my CV and some potential ideas I have for you to review?

  5. I will be working with my friend who will be launching a Hedge Fund this month. I will be looking for accredited investors to invest in the fund.My background is Commercial real etate financing. Where do I look for investors ?

    1. Avatar
      M&I - Nicole

      I am not 100% sure. I’d start with your personal contacts first, and perhaps speak with other people in the industry to see if they know of any investors who are interested in your strategy.

  6. Your life seems like a stressful mess. Slow down. I don’t know how you get any quality thinking done. I say this as someone who works for a multi-billion dollar fund.

    1. Avatar
      M&I - Nicole

      I wouldn’t disagree with you though the author might have a different “work style”

  7. Hi M&I:

    I’m applying to S&T position – but my last summer was in investment banking. Should I follow your resume template and list out my transactions? I did M&A so quite unrelated to S&T. Thanks

    1. No. List the internship on the resume and be prepared to talk about it in detail in an interview but going into detail on the resume could do harm – readers will question if you actually want to do S&T.

      1. It’s addressed to a dude I know, who actually did a couple of years banking before going into sales (if that helps).

    2. Avatar
      M&I - Nicole

      Focus on your interactions, if you’ve had any, with institutional clients. Yes our template works. You’ll have to make it more focused on S&T though

  8. Is it too late to get into a BB by now?

    1. I don’t understand your question. Most banks have finished up or are finishing up recruiting now (February). So yes, it is too late to start looking for a summer internship if that’s what you’re asking.

  9. Hey Brian,

    This is a bit offtopic but it has been a hot debate with my friends so i wanted to hear your opinion. The other day we met a highly successful F100 executive that is pretty young (32) but has managed to leap very high in the corporate ladder. So we asked him how come he chose to pursue a corporate career instead of IB, Hf etc… he definetely had the chance, he attended a top5 MBA. His answer was that these jobs while lucrative, have very limited opportunities for networking outside of finance. In other words as a corporate executive you will meet a ton of people from all kinds of backgrounds, like other company execs,suppliers, distributors, politicians,etc. In finance you get to hang with a very limited crowd with little interaction outside of it.
    Personally, having witnessed the power of networking first hand, this comment kind of troubled me and i wanted to hear what you think.

    1. There is some truth to that and it really depends on what your future goals are. If you don’t know exactly what you want to do, sure, a corporate career is fine and gives you more options. The pay will almost always be less unless you advance very high and/or are at a huge company.

  10. Brian,

    Random question but do you permit plugging other sites here? I found another one on ibanking that’s very entertaining (it doesn’t sell anything like yours) and would post it but don’t want to run afoul.

        Apologies if you already know this one, and I don’t mean to show you up or anything Brian but this guy’s topics and writing style are brilliantly funny.


        1. Yeah no worries, will check it out.

          In general I think people worry way too much about “the competition” and make too big a deal over it. Unless it’s some site that deliberately attacks us or is a clear competitor I don’t really care.

          1. Not a “competitor” at all, just a guy writing a rather funny blog about banking that folks here, particularly folks that are/have been in banking will relate to.

  11. Awesome article! This was one of my favorite article series – would love to hear more. Enjoying the modeling course as well – it’s set up perfectly.

    1. Thanks! Glad to hear it and hope to cover more on this topic soon.

  12. Great Article! Also enjoying your financial modeling courses. This site has definitely helped me leaps and bounds.

    1. Thanks! Glad to hear it

  13. I have a situation that I am looking at right now:

    What is the better opportunity for me if I wanted to get into a front office position– think Research Analyst or Research Trader with a hedge fund?

    Would the better bet be to start out in the back office of a well known hedge fund (think: Paulson, SAC, Citadel) in a group with some exposure to PMs?

    Or would a research position in a Fund and Asset Management group with one of the big rating agencies (Fitch, Moody’s, S&P) hold more weight?

    I know I will most likely have to leave the current fund in order to advance to where I want to be.. But what would be the better situation for me in terms of experience?

    1. That one could go either way but it’s probably better to move to the well-known hedge fund, even if it’s in the back office, as long as you get some PM exposure. Ratings agencies won’t look as relevant for getting into hedge funds or asset management.

      But, other people may have different views there so anyone else feel free to chime in.

  14. Do you mind me asking how you went about securing investors and started your company, also how old are you? (I know you should never ask a lady that, but just wanted to get a rough idea)

    1. Part 1 of the article covers some aspects of securing investors:

      We’re planning to cover more details of the process in future articles and go through what it takes. Can’t say anything about age, sorry. :)

  15. Great article! Nice to see a female HF manager contributing to the site.


    1. Thanks! More coming soon.

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