Hedge Fund vs Mutual Fund: Difference and Comparison

Hedge funds are private investment funds catering to accredited investors, employing diverse strategies like short selling and leverage to seek high returns, often with higher fees. Mutual funds are publicly available investment pools, typically managed passively or actively, catering to retail investors with a diversified portfolio, and charging lower fees than hedge funds. The key distinctions lie in accessibility, investment strategies, and fee structures.

Key Takeaways

  1. Hedge funds are investment vehicles that employ sophisticated strategies, such as leverage and short-selling, to achieve high returns.
  2. Mutual funds pools are investor funds to invest in a diversified portfolio of securities. They are offering more conservative and transparent investment options.
  3. Hedge funds cater to high net-worth individuals and institutions, whereas mutual funds are accessible to a broader range of investors.

Hedge Fund vs Mutual Fund

The difference between a Hedge fund and a Mutual fund is that mutual funds will provide you with a minimum return rate known as the risk-free rate. On the other hand, the hedge fund will try to maximize your return on your investment.

Hedge fund vs Mutual fund

A hedge fund is an investment designed to give you a decent return. It comes with lower risk and is mainly invested in liquid assets for a better outcome.

Mutual funds are predominantly known as safe investments for their risk management procedure and better diversification. In this case, your invested amount will be diversified into stocks, bonds, the money market, etc.

There are different types of mutual funds, and it is available in small investments as well.


Comparison Table

FeatureHedge FundMutual Fund
Investment ObjectiveAbsolute return (positive returns regardless of market conditions)Relative return (aiming to outperform a benchmark, like the S&P 500)
Investment StrategiesDiverse and complex, may use leverage, short selling, and derivativesGenerally more traditional, buying and holding stocks and bonds for the long term
Investor RequirementsAccredited investors only (high net worth individuals and institutions)Open to all investors, with minimum investment amounts varying by fund
FeesHigher fees, typically a combination of a management fee (around 2%) and a performance fee (often 20% of profits)Lower fees, typically a management fee (around 1-2%) with no performance fee
LiquidityLess liquid, with lock-up periods restricting withdrawalsMore liquid, with investors able to redeem shares daily at the net asset value (NAV)
RegulationLess regulated, allowing for more investment flexibilityMore heavily regulated, with restrictions on investment strategies and risk management
RiskGenerally higher risk due to complex strategies and potential for leverageGenerally lower risk due to diversification and long-term focus
SuitabilitySuitable for sophisticated investors comfortable with high risk and seeking non-correlated returnsSuitable for most investors seeking long-term capital appreciation and portfolio diversification


What is Hedge Fund?

Structure and Characteristics

Hedge funds typically have a limited number of investors and are structured as private investment partnerships. They are managed by professional investment managers or teams who are incentivized by performance fees, which are usually a percentage of the fund’s profits.

Key characteristics of hedge funds include:

  1. Diversification: Hedge funds often employ a diverse range of investment strategies, including long and short positions, derivatives trading, leverage, and arbitrage, to mitigate risk and generate returns in various market conditions.
  2. Leverage: Many hedge funds use leverage, or borrowed money, to amplify their investment positions, potentially increasing returns but also magnifying losses.
  3. Performance Fees: Hedge fund managers typically charge both management fees and performance fees. The performance fee is usually a percentage of the fund’s profits, providing an incentive for managers to deliver strong returns.
  4. Risk Management: Hedge funds often employ sophisticated risk management techniques to protect investors’ capital and minimize downside risk. However, the use of complex financial instruments and strategies can also increase the fund’s exposure to certain risks.
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Investment Strategies

Hedge funds employ a wide range of investment strategies, including:

  1. Long/Short Equity: Hedge funds can take both long (buy) and short (sell) positions in individual stocks or sectors, aiming to profit from both rising and falling prices.
  2. Global Macro: Global macro funds take positions in various asset classes, such as currencies, commodities, and equities, based on macroeconomic trends and geopolitical events.
  3. Event-Driven: Event-driven strategies involve taking positions in anticipation of corporate events, such as mergers, acquisitions, or bankruptcies, to capitalize on price inefficiencies.
  4. Quantitative Trading: Quantitative hedge funds use mathematical models and algorithms to identify trading opportunities and execute trades automatically, often in high-frequency trading environments.
  5. Arbitrage: Arbitrage strategies involve exploiting price discrepancies between related assets or markets to generate profits with minimal risk.

Regulation and Oversight

Hedge funds are typically subject to less regulatory oversight compared to other investment vehicles like mutual funds. However, they are still regulated by government agencies such as the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) in the United States and the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) in the United Kingdom. Additionally, hedge funds often face regulatory scrutiny related to issues such as investor accreditation, disclosure requirements, and insider trading regulations.

hedge fund

What is Mutual Fund?

Structure and Characteristics

Mutual funds are structured as open-end investment companies, meaning that investors can buy or sell shares of the fund at any time at the fund’s net asset value (NAV) per share, which is calculated daily based on the value of the fund’s underlying assets.

Key characteristics of mutual funds include:

  1. Diversification: Mutual funds typically invest in a wide range of securities, allowing investors to achieve diversification within a single investment. This diversification helps spread risk and reduce the impact of any individual security’s performance on the overall portfolio.
  2. Professional Management: Mutual funds are managed by experienced investment professionals who make investment decisions on behalf of the fund’s investors. These managers conduct research, analyze market trends, and select securities for the fund’s portfolio.
  3. Liquidity: Mutual funds offer liquidity to investors, as shares can be bought or sold on any business day at the fund’s current NAV. This liquidity provides flexibility for investors who may need to access their funds quickly.
  4. Regulation: Mutual funds are subject to regulatory oversight by government agencies such as the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) in the United States. Regulations are designed to protect investors by requiring transparency, disclosure of fees, and adherence to investment objectives.

Types of Mutual Funds

Mutual funds can be categorized into various types based on their investment objectives, asset classes, and investment strategies. Some common types of mutual funds include:

  1. Equity Funds: These funds primarily invest in stocks or equity securities. They may focus on specific sectors, industries, or market capitalizations (such as large-cap, mid-cap, or small-cap funds).
  2. Bond Funds: Bond funds invest in fixed-income securities such as government bonds, corporate bonds, or municipal bonds. They may vary in terms of the credit quality, duration, and maturity of the bonds held in the portfolio.
  3. Money Market Funds: Money market funds invest in short-term, high-quality debt securities such as Treasury bills, commercial paper, and certificates of deposit. They aim to provide stability and liquidity while generating modest returns.
  4. Index Funds: Index funds seek to replicate the performance of a specific market index, such as the S&P 500 or the FTSE 100. These funds passively invest in the securities included in the index, aiming to match its performance closely.
  5. Balanced Funds: Also known as asset allocation or hybrid funds, balanced funds invest in a mix of stocks, bonds, and other securities to achieve a balanced risk-return profile. They are suitable for investors seeking diversification across multiple asset classes.
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Advantages and Considerations

Investing in mutual funds offers several advantages, including:

  • Diversification: Mutual funds provide access to a diversified portfolio of securities, reducing the risk associated with individual stock or bond investments.
  • Professional Management: Experienced fund managers make investment decisions based on thorough research and analysis, potentially leading to superior returns.
  • Liquidity: Mutual funds offer liquidity, allowing investors to buy or sell shares on any business day at the fund’s current NAV.
  • Convenience: Mutual funds provide a convenient way for investors to access diversified investment opportunities without the need for extensive research or portfolio management.
mutual fund

Main Differences Between Hedge Funds and Mutual Funds

  1. Investor Eligibility:
    • Hedge funds typically cater to accredited investors, such as high-net-worth individuals and institutional investors, while mutual funds are open to a broader range of investors, including retail investors.
  2. Regulatory Oversight:
    • Hedge funds are subject to less regulatory oversight compared to mutual funds, which are regulated by government agencies such as the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) in the United States.
  3. Investment Strategies:
    • Hedge funds have more flexibility in their investment strategies and can employ leverage, short selling, derivatives, and other complex techniques, whereas mutual funds typically adhere to more traditional investment strategies and are often focused on long-only positions.
  4. Liquidity:
    • Mutual funds offer daily liquidity, allowing investors to buy or sell shares at the fund’s net asset value (NAV) on any business day, while hedge funds often have lock-up periods or redemption restrictions that limit investors’ ability to withdraw their funds.
  5. Fees:
    • Hedge funds typically charge both management fees (usually a percentage of assets under management) and performance fees (a percentage of profits), whereas mutual funds typically charge only management fees, which are generally lower.
  6. Transparency:
    • Mutual funds are required to provide regular disclosure of their holdings, performance, fees, and other information to investors, while hedge funds have fewer disclosure requirements and may provide limited transparency to investors.
  7. Investment Minimums:
    • Hedge funds often have higher investment minimums compared to mutual funds, which may have lower or no minimum investment requirements, making them more accessible to retail investors.
  8. Risk Profiles:
    • Hedge funds are often perceived as more risky due to their use of leverage, derivatives, and other complex strategies, whereas mutual funds typically offer a more conservative risk profile, focusing on diversified portfolios of stocks, bonds, or other securities.
  9. Performance Expectations:
    • Hedge funds typically aim to achieve absolute returns regardless of market conditions and may employ strategies to hedge against market risk, while mutual funds often benchmark their performance against a specific index or market benchmark.
Difference Between Hedge Fund and Mutual Fund
  1. https://www.worldscientific.com/doi/abs/10.1142/9789812569448_0004
  2. https://www.aeaweb.org/articles?id=10.1257/jep.21.2.175

Last Updated : 08 March, 2024

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