Although management fees and performance fees receive the most attention when investors examine hedge fund fees, they are not the only associated costs. There are also indirect costs resulting from the purchase and sale of securities, such as trading commissions. Another lesser-studied element of hedge fund costs, and the focus of this review, are a hedge fund’s operating expenses. Therefore, the all-in total costs associated with hedge fund investing can be broken down into headline fees (management fee and performance fees), and indirect costs such as trading commissions and operating expenses. Over the life of an investment, the total economic impact of headline fees will be the largest cost to an investor, but investors should also consider the economic impact of operating expenses.
The purpose of this review is to analyze hedge fund operating expenses to provide investors a better understanding of the all-in costs associated with hedge fund investing. The research outlines the basics of hedge fund operating expenses and presents the potential long-term impact to investors’ performance. Additionally, the review can 1) serve as a benchmarking tool for investors comparing fees across their manager roster, 2) assist hedge fund managers interested in benchmarking operating costs, and 3) support hedge fund stakeholders with manager selection.