How to Start a Hedge Fund
1) Legal and Regulatory Considerations for Starting a Hedge Fund
One of the first steps you need to take after you decide to start a hedge fund is determining how your fund will be structured. Will your fund be domestic? Off-shore? What will your primary strategy be? Are there tax implications based on your strategy or location? Are there regulation requirements? Flush out these considerations with a legal expert to help you get on the right track.
The Dodd-Frank Act is having a significant effect on many start-up hedge funds this year. The registration process for funds has clearly changed, and firms are now required to be much more descriptive of their processes and strategies. If not, they open themselves up for regulatory and criminal consequences. Interestingly, many funds that are not legally mandated to register with the SEC in the U.S. are choosing to do so because they believe it will be viewed positively by investors. Take this into consideration as you get off the ground.
2) Hedge Fund Marketing and Capital Raising
As a hedge fund startup enter the launch process, one of the most critical areas of importance is obviously raising capital. Therefore, a hedge fund’s marketing practices are essential to its success in the long run. Raising capital should be a non-stop process, and hedge fund managers need to put time and energy into crafting comprehensive marketing programs.
Firms should start by creating a 24-month marketing plan, during which they identify their key processes and marketing pitches, contact early stage investors, and invest in a customer relationship management (CRM) system to track investor communications.
When investors are determining which funds to allocate capital to, they are looking for firms who are clear and concise in their marketing messages, and ultimately, those are they feel have the potential to succeed. For an advantage, prepare a Due Diligence Questionnaire (DDQ) before an investor meeting; this shows that you’ve done your homework and are willing to be transparent.
Investors also want to see that you are working with best-in-class service providers; this says a lot about the value you place on your firm. Lean on your service providers to assist you in the initial stages of your development. By choosing vendors whose strengths offset your weaknesses, you demonstrate that you understand the importance of a well-rounded structure.
Ultimately, when it comes to marketing your firm, you want to leave a good (and lasting) impression. Be clear and concise about your strategy. Explain how your firm is different from your competition. And explain your risk management and corporate governance procedures to keep investors comfortable and assure them you are taking all precautions to protect their investments.
3) Hedge Fund Startup Technology & Software
From a hedge fund technology perspective, one of the first steps for starting a hedge fund is creating an IT budget. Be sure to craft a technology budget for 2-3 years, ideally, and ensure it coincides with your growth plan. Take into consideration your expected employee counts, office locations, investment strategies & trading practices, all of which will affect the types of technology you will require.
On the hardware side, hedge fund startups no longer need to invest in expensive hardware or build out in-house Communications Room. With cloud computing services, most firms are choosing to host their infrastructure in the Cloud, allowing them additional flexibility and significant cost-savings. With hedge fund software, conduct research on the types of applications your firm will need. Examples of hedge fund systems you may need include: order management system, CRM, portfolio management system, accounting platform, risk management tools, compliance tools, etc.
Final Thoughts on How to Start a Hedge Fund
Remember that first impressions are everything.
Take the time to build a real business. Focus on more than just investments. Don’t forget about operations, hedge fund technology, legal, etc.
Surround yourself with service providers who with grow with your hedge fund.
Be transparent with investors. If you try to hold anything back, it will always come around to hurt you.