Hedge Funds Seek Double-Digit Returns in 2024 After a Year of Outflows


The hedge fund industry is facing a challenging landscape as it grapples with significant outflows in 2023, amounting to a net $75 billion, according to data from Nasdaq eVestment. This follows a trend from the previous year, where approximately $112 billion exited hedge funds. The pressure on these investment vehicles is intensifying due to a robust stock market rally and higher bond yields, prompting industry insiders to strategize ways to bolster returns and attract investors.

Performance Overview:

Hedge funds, on average, delivered a 5.7% return through November in 2023, as reported by hedge fund research firm PivotalPath. Notably, strategies focusing on equities and credit outperformed, while macro and managed futures lagged behind. In contrast, the S&P 500 surged by approximately 24% during the same period, underscoring the relative underperformance of hedge funds.

Bond markets have also provided stiff competition, with Bloomberg’s US Aggregate Bond Index posting a gain of 4.88% by December 20. The allure of money markets and short-term instruments has increased, offering around 5% returns or more with comparatively lower risk.

Market Dynamics:

The current market dynamics, characterized by a strong rally in stocks, elevated bond yields, and attractive short-term alternatives, have made some traditionally conservative strategies less appealing. Fredrik Langenskiold, senior investment specialist at UBP, noted that certain strategies yielding 5%-6% historically are facing reduced attractiveness as investors can achieve similar returns in cash.

Investor Preferences and Strategies for 2024:

In response to the evolving landscape, investors and allocators are recalibrating their expectations for 2024. Rebecca Adel from Societe Generale’s EMEA capital introduction team emphasized that allocators will be actively seeking double-digit returns in the coming year. Interest is particularly focused on strategies related to credit, global macro, commodities, and equity long/short positions.

The push for double-digit returns signals a shift in investor sentiment, with an emphasis on strategies that can capitalize on emerging opportunities in the market. In a year marked by increased market volatility and changing economic conditions, investors are seeking hedge funds that can demonstrate adaptability and resilience.

As hedge funds navigate the aftermath of substantial outflows in 2023, the pressure to deliver robust returns in 2024 is palpable. With investor preferences shifting towards strategies with the potential for double-digit returns, hedge funds face the challenge of adapting to evolving market dynamics. The coming year will likely see increased scrutiny on performance and strategic flexibility as the industry aims to regain investor confidence in the midst of a dynamic and competitive financial landscape.

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