Hedge Fund Manager: Definition, Strategies, and Compensation (2024)

What Is a Hedge Fund Manager?

A hedge fund manager is an individual or financial firm that manages and makes investment decisions, and overseesthe operations of,a hedge fund. Managing a hedge fund can be an attractive career option because of its high earnings potential.

To be successful, a hedge fund manager must consider how to create and maintain a competitive advantage, a clearly defined investment strategy, adequate capitalization, a marketing and sales plan, and a risk management strategy.

Key Takeaways

  • A hedge fund manager is an individual or financial company that employs professional portfolio managers and analysts to establish and maintain hedge funds.
  • Hedge fund managers typically earn above-average compensation, often from a two-and-twenty fee structure.
  • Hedge fund managers typically specialize in a particular investment strategy that they then use to power their fund portfolio's mandate for profits.
  • In 2022, the 25 highest-paid hedge fund managers made a total of $21.5 billion.
  • The top amount was $4.1 billion for the year.

Responsibilities of a Hedge Fund Manager

Hedge fund management firms are often owned by the managers in charge of a hedge fund portfolio. This means that they are entitled to a large percentage of the profits that the hedge fund makes.

When investing in a hedge fund, investors fund the management fees that cover the operating expenses, as well as performance fees that are usually distributed to the owners as profit.

What sets hedge fund managers apart from other types of fund managers is the fact that the personal worth and funds of hedge fund managers are usually tied directly to the fund itself.


The duties of a hedge fund manager involve:

  • Selecting analysts and traders who can research investment opportunities and execute trades
  • Deciding how to invest the money invested in the fund
  • Selecting high-risk investments in accordance with the fund's mandate for high profitability
  • Monitoring markets and fund investments closely and rebalancing the portfolio to meet a risk-reward benchmark
  • Meeting with potential and existing investors, and raising capital for fund investments
  • Handling other matters that concern fund operations


Top hedge fund managers hold some of the most well-paid positions in any industry, far outpacing CEOs of major companies. In fact, some of the highest-grossing managers make close to $4 billion a year.

This extraordinary compensation potential requires hedge fund managers to stay competitive, to consistently create winning investment strategies, and to make advantageous trade choices.

Note that many hedge fund managers make much less than the top-paid managers, in some cases because their funds generate lower profits.

Individuals wishing to invest in hedge funds must meet income and net worth requirements. Hedge funds can be considered high risk because they pursue aggressive investment strategies and are less regulated than many other types of investments.

Hedge Fund Strategies

Hedge fund managers can use multiple strategies to maximize returns for their firms and clients.

1. One popular strategy is using something called global macro investing. The idea is to invest in tandem with a large share of sizable position in markets that are dealing with predicting global macroeconomic trends.

This type of strategy gives hedge fund managers the necessary flexibility they need. But it is heavily dependent on excellent timing.

2. Another popular tactic that has made multiple hedge fund managers billionaires is an event-driven strategy. Managers look for attractive opportunities to capitalize on a corporate environment.

Examples of this include mergers and acquisitions, bankruptcies,and shareholder buyback initiatives. Managers using this strategy seek to capitalize on any market inconsistencies. It's similar to using a value investing approach.

Hedge fund managers often go this route because of the vast resources they have behind them.

According to an analysis by veteran business-to-business publisher Institutional Investor, despite the tough year for the markets, "2022 was a very good year for multistrategy, macro, trend-following, and fixed-income [hedge fund] managers."

Hedge Fund Manager Compensation

Two and twenty (or "2 and 20") is a typical fee arrangement for hedge fund managers that is standard in the hedge fund industry. It is also common in venture capital and private equity.

Hedge fund management companies typically charge clients both a management and a performance fee. "Two" means 2% ofassets under management (AUM), and refers to the annual management fee charged by the hedge fund for managing assets.

"Twenty" refers to the standard performance or incentive fee of 20% of the profits made by the fund, above a certain predefined benchmark.

While this lucrative fee arrangement has resulted in many hedge fund managers becoming extremely wealthy, in recent years thefee structurehas come under fire from investors and politicians for varying reasons.

Some hedge fund managers also have to contend with ahigh watermarkthat is applicable to their performance fee. A high watermark policy specifies that the fund manager will only be paid a percentage of the profits if the fund's net value exceeds its previous highest value.

This precludes the fund manager being paid large sums for poor performance and ensures that any losses must be made up before performance fees are paid out.

Compensation Examples

In 2022, the 25 highest-paid hedge fund managers made $21.5 billion (an average of approximately $860 million for each). The hedge fund manager who earned the most, Ken Griffin, banked $4.1 billion.

The median amount earned by hedge fund managers in 2022 was $570 million.

Is a Hedge Fund Manager Different From a Portfolio Manager?

Broadly speaking, both manage a portfolio of investments. But a hedge fund manager is responsible for the affairs, in their entirety, of a hedge fund and may be a limited partner in the fund. A portfolio manager is focused on making and managing investments in a portfolio, which could relate to the investments of an individual investor or a mutual fund. Plus, the portfolio manager typically isn't as geared toward the high risk strategies and investments that a hedge fund manager is.

What Is a Hedge Fund?

It's a limited partnership of high-net-worth accredited investors that seeks above-average returns from actively managed investments and mandates non-traditional, high-risk positions to achieve them.

What Education Does a Hedge Fund Manager Need?

Normally, hedge fund managers need, at minimum, a college degree in a relevant area of study, such as finance, as well as work experience in the investment field. Undergraduate experience, for example, as an intern at a financial firm, is beneficial. An advanced degree, e.g., a Master of Finance, can also be an advantage for such job seekers. They'll require a business license to operate, and earning credentials are also valuable.

The Bottom Line

A hedge fund manager is an individual or financial firm that is responsible for a hedge fund and for achieving the substantial profitability mandated by the partnership of investors behind it.

Some hedge fund managers earn enormous amounts of money yearly—from many hundreds of millions to over several billion dollars—but it appears that most settle for far less.

Hedge Fund Manager: Definition, Strategies, and Compensation (2024)


What is the description of a hedge fund manager? ›

A hedge fund manager is responsible for overseeing investment accounts, typically at a hedge fund. They help investors manage investments, tracking liquidity and giving advice about fees. In addition to direct associations with a hedge fund, fund manager jobs are found in environments including: Asset management firms.

How are hedge funds managers compensated? ›

The compensation philosophy adopted by a hedge fund manager should be structured with these goals in mind. management (traditionally 2 percent, but more commonly today, 1.5 percent). Management fees are typically paid monthly or quarterly and are paid to the management company (or investment manager).

What are the strategies of hedge funds? ›

Hedge funds often engage in riskier investment strategies in pursuit of yield, which has become increasingly difficult over the years. The most common strategies include short-selling, reliance on leverage (i.e. borrowed funds), financial derivative instruments, and arbitrage strategies.

What is hedge fund in simple words? ›

Hedge funds are financial partnerships that employ various strategies in an effort to maximize returns for their investors. Unlike mutual funds managers, hedge fund managers have free reign to invest in non-traditional assets and employ risky strategies.

What is the compensation structure of a hedge fund? ›

Similar to private equity firms, hedge funds generally earn a 2% management fee plus 20% of profits. In hedge funds, compensation arrangements may vary, but at the junior level, typically consist only of a cash salary and a discretionary cash bonus.

What skills do you need to be a hedge fund manager? ›

Hedge fund manager job description example

In this position, the candidate can expect to work closely with high-value clients, so excellent communication and financial skills are crucial. Inside-sales skills are also beneficial, as the job includes adding additional investors to the fund.

Where do hedge fund managers get their money? ›

Key Takeaways

Hedge funds make money as part of a fee structure paid by fund investors based on assets under management (AUM). Funds typically receive a flat fee plus a percentage of positive returns that exceed some benchmark or hurdle rate.

Who pays hedge fund managers? ›

A hedge fund usually pays its investment manager a management fee (typically, 2% per annum of the net asset value of the fund) and a performance fee (typically, 20% of the increase in the fund's net asset value during a year).

Do hedge fund managers use their own money? ›

Small hedge fund managers are more likely to invest their own capital than large funds. On average, hedge funds with assets below $1bn invested 9.3% of their own money, compared to 6.95% for funds with assets above $1bn.

What is the most common hedge fund strategy? ›

The most prevalent of the hedge fund strategies, equity strategies hedge funds take long positions in stocks perceived as undervalued and short positions in stocks considered overvalued. Equities' correlation with macroeconomic factors mean they are seen as a riskier class for investment than cash and bonds.

What is an example of a hedging strategy? ›

For example, if you buy homeowner's insurance, you are hedging yourself against fires, break-ins, or other unforeseen disasters. Portfolio managers, individual investors, and corporations use hedging techniques to reduce their exposure to various risks.

How do hedging strategies work? ›

Hedging is a strategy that tries to limit risks in financial assets. It uses financial instruments or market strategies to offset the risk of any adverse price movements. Put another way, investors hedge one investment by making a trade in another.

Why are hedge fund managers so rich? ›

Hedge funds have costly fees that normally include an asset management fee of 1% to 2% and a 20% performance fee on profits. Hedge fund managers eventually end up with more money than their clients because of those fees, so most investors are better off with other investment products.

How does a hedge fund work for dummies? ›

Hedge funds use pooled funds to focus on high-risk, high-return investments, often with a focus on shorting — so you can earn profit even when stocks fall.

Are hedge funds good or bad? ›

Key Takeaways

Hedge funds employ complex investing strategies that can include the use of leverage, derivatives, or alternative asset classes in order to boost return. However, hedge funds also come with high fee structures and can be more opaque and risky than traditional investments.

What do hedge funds do all day? ›

Hedge funds are actively managed by professional managers who buy and sell certain investments with the stated goal of exceeding the returns of the markets, or some sector or index of the markets. They take the greatest risks while trying to achieve these returns.

What is the role of a hedge fund? ›

Hedge funds pool money from investors and invest in securities or other types of investments with the goal of getting positive returns.

What do hedge fund jobs do? ›

Key Roles Within Hedge Funds

Trading Team – The Execution Traders who implement the Investment Team's strategies and aim for the best price on each trade. Middle and Back Office – The back office at a hedge fund consists of supporting areas such as compliance, accounting, operations, and IT.

Is a hedge fund manager a hard job? ›

On average, the top hedge fund managers usually work around 40 hours a week. This is a hectic job profile that needs constant monitoring and active engagement. The highest-paid hedge fund managers can even put up to 70 hours a week.


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