Hedge fund compensation is catching up with performance, and for some of those in the business that's not going to be a good thing.
The nearly $3 trillion industry is slogging through a rough 2015, with some of its biggest names struggling to make money, due in part to slumping oil prices and troubles in emerging economies.
Consequently, those weak results are eating into compensation, particularly on the bonus side.
The decline will be felt most strongly at the intermediate level, or firms that have assets between $1 billion and $5 billion, according to estimates from industry tracker HFR.
While portfolio managers in that group should see base salaries hold steady, bonuses in aggregate will be dropping from 8 percent to 11 percent, HFR estimates.
Weep not, though: That still will result in average comp for PMs in the mid-size group of $950,000, with those at top-performing firms earning double those in the mid-performing tier.
Also, salaries will be going up for those away from the industry's front lines. Information technology pros will see gains in the 5 percent to 7 percent range, with the top earners there pulling down about $350,000 annually.
Even entry-level analysts are expected to see a salary bump in the 9 percent range, though that will be offset partially by an expected bonus decline of 5 percent, according to HFR, which noted that top performers in that category are likely to see overall bonus gains.
The trend is happening as the industry, as measured through the HFRI Fund Weighted Composite Index, turned in a decline of 1.63 percent in returns through mid-October.
Despite the weak performance, investors have been continuing to pump money into hedge funds. Total inflows in the third quarter amounted to $47.9 billion. However, the weak performance year to date has amounted to a decline in total fund assets by $95 billion to $2.87 trillion, according to HFR.
Hedge funds long have been under fire for their 2-and-20 fee structure — the first being the percent of total assets and the second the charge on return. Some funds have been adjusting the structure, though it still remains an industry standard.
Firms have, however, been tinkering with the compensation structure.
"Particularly in a tough year, focus again will go on retaining talent in an environment of lower compensation," HFR said in a narrative accompanying its projections. "We already have seen more focus on initiatives such as training, title changes, career management, support for extracurriculars and nonprofits, and team building efforts to make the firm an attractive place to work and stay."
HFR also said performance and inflow trends remain biased towards bigger firms, while new launches have struggled as well.