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Are hedge funds about to become family offices?

By David Bain

Given that George Soros, arguably the most successful hedge fund manger ever, is turning his hedge fund into a family office are others about to follow his lead?

Some are wondering whether other big names in the industry like James Simons at Renaissance Technologies, John Paulson at Paulson & Co and David Tepper at Appaloosa Management are about to turn their hedge funds into family offices?

Probably not, despite new rules in the US that will require hedge funds and many family offices to register with the Securities and Exchange Commission. Soros cited this as the reason for making the move.

To be sure, the rules are tough, requiring hedge funds with $150 million or more to register with the SEC. And if they are managing money from non-family sources there are further rules to conform to.

Charles Lowenhaupt, who runs a family office consultancy in the US, reckons that the new rules are a game changer. He thinks Soros is the first to see the big picture that the new SEC rules are very bad for groups like hedge funds and family offices.

Also, with much of the ethos around the hedge fund industry being entrepreneurial, much tougher regulatory pressures could undermine this culture. All this looks pretty bad for hedge fund managers.

Nevertheless, most hedge funds will reluctantly sign up to the new rules so they can continue raising money from outside investors.

After all, they are siphoning up more money today then they have been for sometime. According to Hedge Fund Research, new money flows into hedge funds this year is at its highest level since 2007, the last boom year for the industry.

So, many hedge funds are likely to be thinking – what’s the problem with a bit of regulatory headache when the good times are beginning to flow again?

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