Sunday, June 1, 2008

Hedge Fund History

Hedge funds were created by Alfred Winslow Jones in 1949. Jones brought together two economic concepts to create what he considered a conservative investment scheme. He used leverage to buy more shares, and used short selling to avoid market risk. This approach has become a hallmark strategy of many hedge funds known today. He bought as many stocks as he sold, so regardless of whether the market was up or down, Alfred tried to maneuver himself into a good position. To Alfred this meant the crucial question, then, would not be the direction of the market but whether the manager had picked the right stocks to buy and sell. The fund avoided requirements of the Investment Company Act of 1940 by limiting itself to 99 investors in a limited partnership.
Alfred took a very proactive approach to this hedge fund. He chose to take 20 percent of profits as compensation and he charged no fee unless he made a profit. In summary, these three elements: a partnership structure where a percentage of profits is paid as compensation to the general partner/fund manager, a small number of limited partners as investors, and a variety of long and short positions, have now become the core elements of hedge funds today.