Published: December 15, 2017
Some hedge funds have a few large investors. Such a concentrated investor base can make a fund vulnerable to unexpected requests for large redemptions. This paper shows that U.S. hedge funds in part account for that risk by holding more cash and liquid assets. These holdings help funds accommodate large outflows, but also result in lower risk-adjusted returns. (Working Paper no. 17-07)
We show that when only a few investors own a substantial portion of a hedge fund’s net asset value, flow volatility increases because investors’ exogenous, idiosyncratic liquidity shocks are not diversified away. Using confidential regulatory filings, we confirm that high investor concentration hedge funds experience more volatile flows. These hedge funds hold more cash and liquid assets, which help absorb large, unexpected outflows. Such funds have to pay a liquidity premium and generate lower risk-adjusted returns. Investor concentration does not affect flow-performance sensitivity. These results are robust to including lock-up and redemption periods, strategy, manager ownership, and other controls.
Keywords: Hedge funds, investor concentration, flows, precautionary cash, portfolio liquidity
JEL Classification Numbers: G11, G20, G23