Do Hedge Funds Beat the Market?

gurusAre you missing out on the supposedly huge amount of profits to be made by investing with a “Guru” in his Hedge Fund?

Hedge funds are like mutual funds, but they are managed by self titled “experts” who charge an enormous fee to try and beat the market.  Hedge funds and Investing Guru’s are built on the premise that a smarter guy with a faster computer can make miracles possible by uncovering inefficiencies in the market or predicting the future.  They are attractive to so called “sophistocated investor” who wouldn’t be caught dead investing in boring index funds.

Do Hedge Funds Beat the Market?

“According to a report by Goldman Sachs released in May, hedge fund performance lagged the Standard & Poor’s 500-stock index by approximately 10 percentage points this year, although most fund managers still charged enormous fees in exchange for access to their brilliance. As of the end of June, hedge funds had gained just 1.4 percent for 2013 and have fallen behind the MSCI All Country World Index for five of the past seven years, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. This comes as the SEC passed a rule that will allow hedge funds to advertise to the public for the first time in 80 years.” 1

Studies continue to come in showing real data of the horrible returns of hedge funds vs. the whole market.

“Harken back to a decade ago. Your broker recommends an investment in a hedge fund. Your registered investment adviser disagrees. She recommends you invest in an index fund composed of 60 percent stocks and 40 percent bonds. You go with the broker’s recommendation. You don’t want “average” returns. You want your money managed by the best minds in finance.

Fast forward to today. According to a Harvard Business Review blog, a composite index of more than 2,000 hedge funds returned 72 percent over the past decade. The index fund, which took significantly less risk, had a return of about 100 percent, while charging much lower fees.

You would think these dismal returns would have dealt a crippling blow to the hedge fund industry. Not so. Hedge funds remain the darling of many pension plans. According to the same blog, hedge funds that go long and short on stocks and invest in equity derivatives managed a mere $865 billion a decade ago. Having demonstrated their lack of investment skill, these fund managers now manage more than $2.4 trillion. Go figure.” 2

Takeaway

Hedge funds are flashy and somehow popular, but if you want long term growth in your retirement accounts you should stay as far away from them as possible.   Instead, invest in a diversified portfolio,  and find an investment coach who will educate you especially in down markets.

by Jimmy Hancock

References

1. Kolhatkar, Sheelah. “Hedge Funds Are for Suckers.” Bloomberg Business Week. Bloomberg, 11 July 2013. Web. 14 July 2014. <http://www.businessweek.com/articles/2013-07-11/why-hedge-funds-glory-days-may-be-gone-for-good>

2. Solin, Dan. “The Fleecing of Investors Continues.” The Huffington Post. TheHuffingtonPost.com, 17 June 2014. Web. 17 July 2014. <http://www.huffingtonpost.com/dan-solin/the-fleecing-of-investors_1_b_5487788.html>.

The Weakness of Index Funds

weaknessYou have probably heard of an Index fund, but you might not have heard of an Institutional fund.  Index funds seem to be getting more and more popular as a means for investing with minimal fees, but institutional funds have been outperforming index funds, and I will show you how.

Index Funds

These type of mutual funds are not actively traded, and the only purpose of the fund is to keep the stocks in their fund that are listed in specific index.  For example, the S&P 500 is an index made up of the 500 largest publicly traded companies in America.  Thus a S&P 500 Index fund would hold those 500 stocks, and that is all.  When the list of 500 companies changes, they sell the companies that exited the list, and buy the companies that jumped into the list.

Institutional Funds

Institutional funds are similar to index funds, but go 1 step further.  These type of mutual funds dont worry about what is listed in indexes, but have specific criteria for evaluating each stock.  They put each of the publicly traded stocks throughout the entire world into different categories based on size, country, and other factors.  They then take those categories and weight them based on nobel prize winning studies like the 3 factor model and modern portfolio theory.   They then can be specifically weighted in a investors portfolio based on each investors risk preference, which is decided by the investor and the advisor together.

The Proof is in the Pudding

Lets compare index funds to the institutional funds offered through us, aka Matson Money.  We will look at real annual returns over the last 15 years from 2000 through 2014 for a few different sectors of the market.   Note, all of the numbers shown are after subtracting of all mutual fund management fees.

Large Cap Value Sector:  

Retail Index Fund*- 5.56%

Institutional Fund Used by Matson Money- 8.44%

Small Cap Sector:

Retail Index Fund* – 8.32%

Institutional Fund Used by Matson Money- 9.46%

International Small Cap Sector:

Retail Index Fund* – 6.48%

Institutional Fund Used by Matson Money- 8.55%       1. 

Doing this type of comparison doesn’t even point out another other obvious advantage to institutional funds.  Institutional funds allow for everyday investors to get into sectors that you cannot get into with Index funds, like micro cap (very small companies), Emerging markets Small and Value (Countries that are less established).  Returns in those categories have been huge going back 15 years as well.

To get slightly more technical, I have included a few more important weaknesses of index funds as written by Dan Solin in a recent article.

1. Flexibility When to Buy and Sell Stocks

An index fund buys and sells stocks when they enter and leave the index. An institutional fund has the ability to reduce turnover and increase tax efficiency by establishing a range that permits it to hold a stock even if it drops out of the index.   2. 

2. Flexibility in Stock Selection

An institutional fund can establish a screen to exclude categories of stocks with historically poor returns, like initial public offering stocks. An index fund manager does not have this flexibility.  2. 

3. Use of Block Trading Techniques

There are sophisticated trading techniques a small cap, institutional fund manager can use that are not options for index fund managers. Because the market for these stocks is relatively small, and dumping a large block can affect the stock price, an institutional fund may be able to buy these stocks at a favorable price from a seller who has an urgent need to liquidate holdings. 2. 

By Jimmy Hancock

*Retail Index Fund numbers come from Vanguard Index Funds

References

1. Matson Money.  Investor Jeopardy Powerpoint. Mason, OH: Matson Money, 3 Aug. 2015. PPT.

2. Solin, Dan. “Solving the Mystery of Passive Asset Class Investing.” The Huffington Post. TheHuffingtonPost.com, 21 Jan. 2014. Web. 23 Jan. 2014. <http://www.huffingtonpost.com/dan-solin/solving-the-mystery-of-passive-asset_b_4627737.html>.

 

What is a Hedge Fund?

investment guruAre you missing out on the supposedly huge amount of profits to be made by investing with a “Guru” in his Hedge Fund?

Hedge funds are like mutual funds, but they are managed by self titled experts who charge an enormous fee to try and beat the market.  Hedge funds and Investing Guru’s are built on the premise that a smarter guy with a faster computer can make miracles possible by uncovering inefficiencies in the market or predicting the future.  They are attractive to so called sophistocated investor who wouldn’t be caught dead investing in “boring” index funds.

Do Hedge Funds Beat the Market?

“According to a report by Goldman Sachs released in May, hedge fund performance lagged the Standard & Poor’s 500-stock index by approximately 10 percentage points this year, although most fund managers still charged enormous fees in exchange for access to their brilliance. As of the end of June, hedge funds had gained just 1.4 percent for 2013 and have fallen behind the MSCI All Country World Index for five of the past seven years, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. This comes as the SEC passed a rule that will allow hedge funds to advertise to the public for the first time in 80 years.” 1

Studies continue to come in showing real data of the horrible returns of hedge funds vs. the whole market.

“Harken back to a decade ago. Your broker recommends an investment in a hedge fund. Your registered investment adviser disagrees. She recommends you invest in an index fund composed of 60 percent stocks and 40 percent bonds. You go with the broker’s recommendation. You don’t want “average” returns. You want your money managed by the best minds in finance.

Fast forward to today. According to a Harvard Business Review blog, a composite index of more than 2,000 hedge funds returned 72 percent over the past decade. The index fund, which took significantly less risk, had a return of about 100 percent, while charging much lower fees.

You would think these dismal returns would have dealt a crippling blow to the hedge fund industry. Not so. Hedge funds remain the darling of many pension plans. According to the same blog, hedge funds that go long and short on stocks and invest in equity derivatives managed a mere $865 billion a decade ago. Having demonstrated their lack of investment skill, these fund managers now manage more than $2.4 trillion. Go figure.” 2

Takeaway

Hedge funds are flashy and somehow popular, but if you want long term growth in your retirement accounts you should stay as far away from them as possible.   Instead, invest in a diversified portfolio,  and find an investment coach who will educate you especially in down markets.

by Jimmy Hancock

References

1. Kolhatkar, Sheelah. “Hedge Funds Are for Suckers.” Bloomberg Business Week. Bloomberg, 11 July 2013. Web. 14 July 2014. <http://www.businessweek.com/articles/2013-07-11/why-hedge-funds-glory-days-may-be-gone-for-good>

2. Solin, Dan. “The Fleecing of Investors Continues.” The Huffington Post. TheHuffingtonPost.com, 17 June 2014. Web. 17 July 2014. <http://www.huffingtonpost.com/dan-solin/the-fleecing-of-investors_1_b_5487788.html>.

What’s Even Better than Index Funds?

Dan Solin helps us to understand first of all why index funds are better than actively traded funds. Then he goes on to explain why there is an even better way to invest than index funds. We call it institutional funds, he calls it passive asset class investing.

Here is part of the article he recently wrote.

“I am a proponent of evidence-based investing. The evidence is compelling that investors have higher expected returns when they reject actively managed funds and invest in a globally diversified portfolio of low-management-fee index funds, in an asset allocation appropriate for them.
While appropriate index investing may be a superior strategy to buying individual stocks or investing in actively managed mutual funds, you may also want to consider the benefit of using passive asset class funds.

Index funds are “passively managed” because the fund manager seeks to “passively” track a benchmark index, like the S&P 500 index. Passively managed funds have many of the benefits of index funds. They are typically low cost, have low turnover and are tax efficient. However, the manager of a passive asset class fund has certain flexibilities denied to the manager of a comparable index fund, such as:

Flexibility When to Buy and Sell Stocks

An index fund buys and sells stocks when they enter and leave the index. A passive asset class fund has the ability to reduce turnover and increase tax efficiency by establishing a range that permits it to hold a stock even if it drops out of the index.

Flexibility in Stock Selection

A passive asset class fund can establish a screen to exclude categories of stocks with historically poor returns, like initial public offering stocks. An index fund manager does not have this flexibility.

Use of Block Trading Techniques

There are sophisticated trading techniques a small cap, passive asset class manager can use that are not options for index fund managers. Because the market for these stocks is relatively small, and dumping a large block can affect the stock price, a passive asset class fund may be able to buy these stocks at a favorable price from a seller who has an urgent need to liquidate holdings.

Tax Efficiency

Both index funds and passive asset class funds are tax efficient. However, passive asset class funds can engage in additional strategies that can make them even more efficient. These strategies include:

• Avoiding intentional short-term gains
• Selling stocks with big losses and tax harvesting those losses
• Avoiding the purchase of stocks just before their ex-dividend date

Passive asset class funds can also focus on minimizing dividends, in an effort to improve after-tax returns.

If you are an investor who believes in evidence-based investing, you should not limit your options to index funds.”

Solin, Dan. “Solving the Mystery of Passive Asset Class Investing.” The Huffington Post. TheHuffingtonPost.com, 21 Jan. 2014. Web. 23 Jan. 2014. .