Jim Liew of Alpha Quant Club recently posted an interesting article about the increasing demand for transparency of hedge fund strategies by institutional investors, so much so that they are essentially willing to invest only in managed accounts with real-time trades and positions updates. This is, of course, bad for fund managers, since not only can the investor reverse-engineer the simpler strategies from such knowledge, they can also piggy-back on the trades, thus paying a much smaller portion of their profits as performance fee. One might be tempted to think that since the investors are going to reverse-engineer the product anyway, why not just make it as simple and as generic as possible, and charge a much lower fee than the usual 2-20 (which hopefully will attract a much larger investor base), so that the main value to the investor is just convenience and not the originality of the strategy?
In fact, Jim wants to do just that. He proposes to construct hedge fund "barometers", essentially prototypical hedge fund strategies running in managed accounts. This would work well if these barometers have large enough capacities such that the performance can hold up even when a large number of investors sign up. From the investors' point of view, this is a trade-off between investing in a truly outstanding, high-performance strategy while paying a large fee and losing "transparency", versus just investing in a generic strategy that may still outperform the broad market. For some institutional investors, this might just be the bargain they are looking for.