Close to half — 46% — of the 200 largest hedge fund managers experienced a material decline in regulatory assets under management in 2018 compared to the prior year, research from law firm Seward & Kissel showed.
Analysis of the managers' 2017 and 2018 Form ADV submissions to the Securities and Exchange Commission found 74% of equity managers experienced declines in regulatory AUM in 2018, 14% did not see a large change in assets, while 12% had significant gains from 2017.
By contrast, 53% of managers of other hedge fund strategies did not experience a meaningful gain in regulatory AUM in 2018 compared to the prior year, while 23.5% of managers had a material increase and 23.5% did not experience much change, according to the report.
Considering the asset declines experienced by many hedge funds, company headcounts among the analyzed group remained steady with 56% of reporting no material changes, 21% noting significant hiring, and 23% showing a material decrease in employees, analysis by the legal researchers found.
About 69% of the hedge fund managers reported to the SEC that they didn't offer separately managed accounts to investors in 2018, a statistic that remained unchanged from the previous year and which applied to both equity and other strategy firms.
When it came to maintaining an online presence, "it turns out that (hedge fund) advisers were fairly conservative in both years of the study in terms of their social media footprint," said Seward & Kissel researchers in the report.
Based on ADV disclosures, 12% of the same universe of hedge funds did not report any social media presence; 44% reported having one or more websites; 32% had one or more websites and a LinkedIn page; and the balance hosted one or more websites, a LinkedIn page and other social media accounts, such as Twitter or Facebook.
Finally, the Seward & Kissel team checked ADV filings and found 53% of the hedge fund managers in Seward & Kissel's universe said they relied on outside marketers to promote their investment funds.