Maryland Endowment Plans to Cut Worst-Performing Hedge Fundsby
University of Maryland foundation is reviewing its holdings
Fund has 51.7% of assets in hedge funds, absolute return
The University of Maryland’s endowment is planning to yank the most expensive and worst performing hedge fund investments, following other managers who are frustrated with high fees and low returns.
“Some hedge fund managers are doing very well and it makes sense, but others aren’t and it’s not really worth paying all the fees when we can just get the same returns with a more passive investment," Pamela Purcell, chief financial officer of the foundation that oversees the state system’s $1.2 billion endowment, said Thursday in a telephone interview.
Maryland’s review comes as the largest U.S. public pensions are abandoning hedge funds or pressuring them to slash fees amid lackluster returns. University endowments also are rethinking their hedge fund positions. The University of California’s $8.8 billion endowment said earlier this year that it would cut its number of hedge fund managers to 10 from 32.
Purcell declined to comment on which managers might be eliminated, when any decision is expected or how much capital may be reallocated from the asset class. Maryland had as much as 51.7 percent of its foundation invested in hedge funds and absolute return strategies as of June 30, 2015, according to its most recent annual report.
The hedge fund industry had its worst first-half performance since 2011, as managers lost an average 0.45 percent this year through June 30.
Hedge funds typically command a cost of 2 percent of assets and 20 percent of the fund’s annual profit. A recent study estimated that hedge funds collected $2.5 billion in fees from endowments in 2015 and $16.7 billion from 2009 through 2015. In that time period, schools paid 60 cents in fees for every dollar of return on the investments, according to the study.