Hedge fund managers are increasing their investment in technology to create competitive advantages and address regulatory and operational concerns, according to a new study by KPMG International, the Alternative Investment Management Association (AIMA) and the Managed Funds Association (MFA).
The study polled more than 100 global hedge fund managers representing approximately $300 billion in assets under management (AUM) and found that 90% of these firms are investing in technology to improve controls and compliance. A similar amount, 88% of respondents, said that efficiency objectives were their top reason for investing in technology.
“This new survey underlines how the alternative investment industry continues to invest in technology across the entire fund management organisation,” says AIMA CEO, Jack Inglis. “Investment in new technologies will help to keep the industry ahead of the competition over the long term, delivering consistent and positive risk-adjusted returns for investors while continuing to address the ever-increasing regulatory burden.”
Of those polled, 58% of managers say that artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning will have a “medium to high” impact on the sector over the next five years.
As one hedge fund manager noted in the study: “AI is going to continue to make inroads in the sector. There’s a very strong business case for replacing humans with algorithms in a lot of areas of the business.”
Seventy-four per cent of respondents said they believe automated trading technologies will have at least “some impact” on hedge fund returns over the next five years. Virtually all – 94% – fully expect technology to have an impact on competition over the next five years.
“Hedge fund managers may not be building slick customer apps just yet, but they are clearly focused on making sure they are innovating – in the front, middle and back office – to ensure they remain competitive,” says Robert Mirsky, KPMG’s global head of hedge funds.
The survey found that 32% of hedge fund managers polled are already using predictive analytics to uncover new trends and new opportunities. However, 42% said they are still unsure of the value and are just monitoring the industry and 27% said they don’t expect predictive analytics to play any role in their trading strategy.
As hedge funds start to rely more heavily on technology, it appears that many managers are becoming increasingly concerned about data risk. Eighty-three per cent of respondents to the study ranked cyber security as an important technology capability that will attract significant investment.
“Hedge fund managers are making investments in their future and are focused on becoming more efficient in both their regulatory compliance and operations,” says Richard Baker, president and CEO of MFA. “Ultimately, this should lead to a stronger sector with tighter controls and improved performance – something that regulators, investors and managers can all support.”