While the fact is that hedge funds are considered “unregulated,” there are some major stipulations to that claim. No investment is legally allowed to be unregulated, and so the term unregulated may give people the wrong impression. Regulation is necessary for hedge funds, although in practice they are quite a bit different from other investments. In terms of regulations regarding hedge funds within the United States, there are several things potential investors (and the average person) should know about.
The most direct way that the US has found to regulate hedge funds is by regulating the practices of financial advisers (the money managers). While it is true that hedge funds are considered to be private investments, and that money managers have limited transparency when engaging with the investments, they must still adhere to any regulations set down. This regulation is to protect against illegal activity and fraud, and to protect investors who trust their money to another party. The biggest issue with money managers is compliance with mandatory record keeping. Money managers/advisers with over one hundred and fifty million dollars in managed assets are required to register as such. This is one way of “keeping track” of hedge fund investors and their managers. Because of the privately owned status of hedge funds, they are exempt from reporting with SEC (US Securities and Exchange Commission); although in some situations there are exceptions to that rule of exemption. One such exception is the fact that hedge funds with equity securities with more than four hundred and ninety-nine owners/investors have to report to SEC.
Under the Investment Company Act of 1940, hedge funds are limited to one hundred or fewer investors. Another requirement under the Investment Company Act of 1940 (which was what allowed hedge funds to be exempt from SEC in the first place) stipulates that there is certain criteria that potential investors must meet in order to be able to invest in the first place. If investors can jump through those regulatory hoops and become a “qualified purchaser,” the hedge fund investment can move forward and take place. Individuals who meet “qualified purchaser” status would have to have at least five million dollars in investment assets. Companies, meanwhile, would need twenty five million dollars in investment assets. That is the very beginning of the criteria for investor qualification, and much of it specifically varies by state.
Other regulations to keep in mind regarding hedge funds in the United States would be that hedge funds cannot sell their securities publicly. Hedge fund shares are not registered. Hedge fund managers that own more than five percent of any equity securities are subject to public disclosure as well. These are just some of the additional regulatory stipulations and scenarios that investors and managers must comply with. All of this information is the “tip of the iceberg” when it comes to hedge fund regulation inside of the United States. As mentioned earlier, specific regulations may vary by state, and this complicates an already confusing situation.