Regulation of hedge funds does differ when taken outside of the boundaries of the United States. However, much of the regulation on hedge funds throughout the world does resemble the regulation in the US. In Europe, for example, the primary method is to regulate the financial advisors/managers of the funds. The managers are required to register with the FSA (the Financial Services Authority). Within the European Union, there have been some differences with regulation between different countries, but the hard and fast rule is that EU fund managers are required to register.
Recently, something called the Directive on Alternative Investment Fund Managers, or AIFMD, was passed by the EU to better monitor the activities of hedge fund managers. Countries within the EU are required to adopt the practices of AIFMD by 2013. It is quite an undertaking for every hedge fund manager within the European Countries to comply with the regulations in AIFMD, but AIFMD has made certain allowances to make the transition easier. For example, they have introduced a sort of passport that enables any hedge funds authorized in a country in the EU to operate throughout the entire EU.
Obviously Europe is not the only place aside from the United States that participates in hedge fund activities. An incredibly popular option for those abroad, and even for a portion of American citizens, is to run the hedge funds through offshore locations. This includes Bermuda, the British Islands, Dublin, the Cayman Islands, and many more locations. Any hedge fund that is run through an offshore location has to comply with the individual regulations there. Offshore hedge funds are quite different from other types of hedge funds; one example of this difference is the fact that the funds are valued as net asset value (NAV), not as account balances as with domestic funds.
In South Africa, registration with and approval from the Financial Services Board (FSB) is required for hedge fund managers. Also in South Africa, much emphasis is placed on local investment rather than international. In Singapore, hedge funds are less regulated and have fewer licensing requirements than other Asian hedge fund “hot spots,” such as Hong Kong. Singapore is a popular hedge fund location for this reason.
Recently, the Dodd-Frank Act was passed in the United States. This act has wide reaching implications and may change the nature of hedge funds throughout the world. Those international hedge funds that have more than twenty-five million dollars with fifteen or more American managers or investors must register with SEC. Managers who are registered with SEC are also required to file and keep information about managed assets up to date with the SEC as well.
This is only the beginning of overseas regulation for hedge funds. However, it illustrates that there is still a focus on regulating investment managers rather than the investments themselves. Hedge funds are popular globally, and there is a good amount of cross over investment from countries with financial hubs. Some seek to take advantage of the opportunities presented by offshore accounts, but new regulation may be changing some of that activity.