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The Gross Truth About Hedge Fund Performance and Risk: The Impact of Incentive Fees

20 Pages Posted: 19 Nov 2007  

Chris Brooks

University of Reading - ICMA Centre

Andrew Clare

City University London - Sir John Cass Business School

Nick Motson

City University London - Sir John Cass Business School

Date Written: November 2007

Abstract

Factor models are frequently applied to hedge fund returns in an attempt to separate the return from identified risk factors (beta) and from manager skill (alpha). More recently, these same techniques have been used to replicate the returns from hedge fund strategies with varying degrees of success. In this paper, we show that due to the particular nature of hedge fund incentive contracts, the use of net of fee returns can lead to considerably biased estimates of factor exposures which can distort the picture of fund manager performance. The solution we propose is to model the gross returns of hedge funds and the incentive fees independently, which gives a truer representation of the underlying return generating process. Using a large sample of hedge funds, we quantify the effect of this bias on both performance attribution and replication. We find that using net of fee returns understates the return attributable to beta by up to 58 basis points per annum. Following from this we find that some of the additional beta exposure can be captured by basing replication on gross rather than net returns. We also investigate the risk taking behaviour of fund managers conditional upon the delta of their incentive option and find that contrary to previous studies, there does appear to be evidence of increased risk taking for those managers who find themselves significantly below their high water mark.

Keywords: hedge fund, returns, alpha, beta, fees, performance

JEL Classification: G1, G2

Suggested Citation

Brooks, Chris and Clare, Andrew and Motson, Nick, The Gross Truth About Hedge Fund Performance and Risk: The Impact of Incentive Fees (November 2007). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1031096 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.1031096

Chris Brooks

University of Reading - ICMA Centre ( email )

Whiteknights Park
P.O. Box 242
Reading RG6 6BA
United Kingdom
+44 118 931 82 39 (Phone)
+44 118 931 47 41 (Fax)

Andrew D. Clare

City University London - Sir John Cass Business School ( email )

106 Bunhill Row
London, EC1Y 8TZ
United Kingdom

Nicholas E. Motson (Contact Author)

City University London - Sir John Cass Business School ( email )

106 Bunhill Row
London, EC1Y 8TZ
United Kingdom
+44 (0) 20 7040 4074 (Phone)
+44 (0) 20 7040 8881 (Fax)

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