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US institutions sour on hedge fund fees, survey shows

Hedge funds and private equity funds took a hit among US institutions and pension managers in a survey by Fidelity Investments released Monday.

The survey found that only 19 percent of American managers of pensions and other large funds believe the benefits of hedge funds and private equity funds are worth the fees they charge. That contrasted with Europe and Asia, where the vast majority — 72 percent and 91 percent, respectively — said the fees were fair.

The US responses appear to reflect growing dissatisfaction with the fees charged by hedge funds, in particular. Both hedge funds and private equity funds typically charge 2 percent upfront and keep 20 percent of the profits they generate for clients.


Derek Young, vice chairman of Pyramis Global Advisors , the institutional arm of Fidelity that conducted the survey, chalked up the US skepticism to a longer period of having worked with alternative investments.

“There’s an experience level in the US that’s significantly beyond the other regions of the world,’’ Young said.

The California Public Employees’ Retirement System, the largest US pension fund, last month said it planned to exit hedge funds, pulling out $4 billion, because they are too expensive and complex.

The Massachusetts state pension fund over the past two years has whittled down the number of hedge funds it works with and exited most of its “fund of funds,” or firms that select an array of hedge funds on a client’s behalf. The state fund also is working on alternatives to hedge funds that accomplish similar investment goals at a far lower cost.

Many large pension funds still have a high allocation to private equity funds, which have had strong returns in recent years. Fidelity did not separate the investors’ views on hedge funds from those on private equity.

The survey included 811 institutional investors in 22 countries, representing $9 trillion under investment, Pyramis said.


Beth Healy can be reached at Follow her on Twitter @HealyBeth.