Alternative mutual funds will be examined by the Securities and Exchange Commission to assess whether managers are complying with leverage and liquidity rules.
The SEC plans to test about 25 of the funds over the next several months, said Jane Jarcho, national associate director of the investment company examination program at the agency, in an interview.
The exams will shed light on how funds are trying to generate yield and how much risk they are taking, Ms. Jarcho said. The SEC will seek to determine whether boards are engaged in appropriate oversight, she said.
“A lot of the managers brought in to run these funds come from the hedge fund world where they weren't used to these regulations,” Ms. Jarcho said. “Some boards of mutual funds don't have a lot of experience with alternative investment strategies.”
Alternative mutual funds typically invest beyond traditional stocks and bonds into asset classes like real estate and commodities, or might employ hedging techniques like short selling. They've jumped in popularity since the 2008 financial crisis as investors seek better returns.
The funds are among the fastest-growing segments of the $15 trillion industry. Assets in the funds rose 52% to $285 billion at the end of March from a year earlier, according to Morningstar.
The SEC will look at four types of alternative mutual funds, Ms. Jarcho said: Non-traditional bond funds, which make up about half of the total assets in the segment; long/short equity funds; multialternative funds and market-neutral funds.
The SEC's exams will run for about six months, Ms. Jarcho said. A second round of examinations could be needed, she said.