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After horror 2015 and rocky start to 2016, can hedge funds still cut it?

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Hedge fund managers, once viewed as the rockstars of the financial world, are coming under fire by investors for poor performance—as is reflected in recent surveys and the mood among industry players.

Roughly half of all funds lost money last year, according to a study released on May 10 by Institutional Investors.

The average fund lost about 1 percent in 2015, the study found, noting that many actively-managed funds focused on macro strategies were beaten by computer algorithms.

Data tracker Hedge Fund Research, meanwhile, reported that investors yanked $15 billion from funds in the first quarter, the largest quarterly outflow since 2009.

"There is no doubt that we are in the first innings of a washout in hedge funds and certain strategies," Third Point's Daniel Loeb lamented in an April letter to investors.

That cautious mood could be felt at the annual SkyBridge Alternatives (SALT) conference, which ran from May 10-13 in in Las Vegas, where managers widely acknowledged they needed to do more to satisfy frustrated investors.

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