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Welcome to the Dark Side - Hedge Fund Attrition and Survivorship Bias over the period 1994-2001

  • Gaurav S. Amin

    ()

    (ICMA Centre, University of Reading)

  • Harry M. Kat

    ()

    (ICMA Centre, University of Reading)

Hedge funds exhibit a high rate of attrition that has increased substantially over time. Using data over the period 1994-2001, we show that lack of size, lack of performance and an increasingly aggressive attitude of old and new fund managers alike are the main factors behind this. Although attrition is high, survivorship bias in hedge fund data is quite modest, which reflects the relatively small difference in performance between surviving and defunct funds. Concentrating on survivors only will overestimate the average hedge fund return by around 2% per annum. For small, young, and leveraged funds, however, the bias can be as high as 4-6%. We also find significant survivorship bias in estimates of the standard deviation, skewness and kurtosis of individual hedge fund returns. When not corrected for, this will lead investors to seriously overestimate the benefits of hedge funds. We find fund of funds attrition to be much lower than for hedge funds. Combined with a small difference in performance between surviving and defunct funds of funds, this yields relatively low survivorship bias estimates for funds of funds.

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Paper provided by Henley Business School, Reading University in its series ICMA Centre Discussion Papers in Finance with number icma-dp2002-02.

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Length: 33 pages
Date of creation: Dec 2001
Date of revision: Jan 2002
Handle: RePEc:rdg:icmadp:icma-dp2002-02
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  1. Stephen Brown & William Goetzmann & James Park, 1998. "Conditions for Survival: Changing Risk and the Performance of Hedge Fund Managers and CTAs," Yale School of Management Working Papers ysm83, Yale School of Management, revised 01 Apr 2008.
  2. Brown, Stephen J & Goetzmann, William N & Ibbotson, Roger G, 1999. "Offshore Hedge Funds: Survival and Performance, 1989-95," The Journal of Business, University of Chicago Press, vol. 72(1), pages 91-117, January.
  3. Liang, Bing, 2000. "Hedge Funds: The Living and the Dead," Journal of Financial and Quantitative Analysis, Cambridge University Press, vol. 35(03), pages 309-326, September.
  4. Carl Ackermann & Richard McEnally & David Ravenscraft, 1999. "The Performance of Hedge Funds: Risk, Return, and Incentives," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 54(3), pages 833-874, 06.
  5. Fung, William & Hsieh, David A., 2000. "Performance Characteristics of Hedge Funds and Commodity Funds: Natural vs. Spurious Biases," Journal of Financial and Quantitative Analysis, Cambridge University Press, vol. 35(03), pages 291-307, September.
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