Monash University - Department of Accounting and Finance
July 1, 2014
We examine whether fee structure acts as a reliable signal of hedge fund performance. Recent theoretical work suggests that, given the unique information asymmetries faced by hedge fund investors, managers will use performance-based incentive fees to signal skill. We test this hypothesis empirically and find little support for the notion that high incentive fee funds generate superior risk-adjusted returns during normal market conditions; rather, increases in incentive fee level are accompanied by an increased proclivity to take on risk and increased leverage. Consequently, higher incentive fee funds suffer higher rates of attrition. Higher incentive fee funds do demonstrate lower market correlations and thus provide enhanced diversification benefits. As a result, high fee funds exhibited remarkable out-performance during the recent global financial crisis.