49 Pages Posted: 17 Dec 2008
Date Written: August 2007
We study the optimal portfolio choice of hedge fund managers who are compensated by high-water mark contracts. Surprisingly, we find that even risk-neutral managers will not place unboundedly large weights on the risky assets, despite the option-type features of the contract. Instead they will place a constant fraction of assets in a mean-variance efficient portfolio and the rest in the riskless asset, similar to investors with constant relative risk aversion. This result is a direct consequence of the indefinite horizon of the contract. We argue more generally that the risk-seeking incentives of option-type compensation contracts rely on the interaction of convex compensation and finite horizons, rather than on the convexity of the compensation scheme alone.
Keywords: Performance evaluation, Hedge funds, Option-type compensation, High-water marks, Continuous time
JEL Classification: G11, G2
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation
Panageas, Stavros and Westerfield, Mark M., High-Water Marks: High Risk Appetites? Convex Compensation, Long Horizons, and Portfolio Choice (August 2007). Journal of Finance, February 2009. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1316667