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Hedge funds bolster staff despite performance worries

A trader works at the BFAM Partners Ltd. office in Hong Kong, China, on Monday, May 9, 2016.
Justin Chin | Bloomberg | Getty Images

The hedge fund industry is employing a growing number of people, in spite of investor concerns over its performance.

The sector currently employs 115,000 staff, up 15 per cent compared to 2010, according to the Alternative Investment Management Association, an industry group, and Preqin, a data provider.

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Growth at the collection of businesses that serve hedge funds, ranging from auditors and lawyers to brokers, has been even faster. They employed 275,000 at the end of last year, up 38 per cent compared to 2010.

Jack Inglis, chief executive of AIMA, said: "Back in December of 2010, when we last assessed this, the industry managed around $1.6tn in assets and employed about 300,000 people worldwide. Today, it manages around $3tn on behalf of more than 5,000 institutional investors and employs about 400,000 people."

In spite of that trend, concern over performance has been growing among investors who put money into hedge funds. Investors pulled $110bn from hedge funds in 2016, according to eVestment, a data provider, the highest amount since the financial crisis.

In response to this investor concern, some hedge fund managers have changed their fee structure to cut the amount that is guaranteed to them, and make more of it dependent on performance.

According to data from Greenwich Associates and Johnson Associates, average pay in the industry has dropped for the past three years.

The shake-up in fees does not appear to have had a noticeable impact yet on staff numbers in the sector.

According to AIMA and Preqin, the 33 per cent increase in the number of people directly and indirectly employed in the industry since 2010 is broadly in line with the growth in hedge funds over that period. There are now 5,500 funds in operation.

About two-thirds of the people who work directly and indirectly for the hedge fund industry are in the US. The UK is by far the second largest centre, while Hong Kong, Switzerland, Australia and Canada also rank highly.

Hedge funds in the UK tend to be larger than elsewhere, employing 29 staff on average. In the US, the average was 20 while the numbers were smaller elsewhere.