Why Index Funds Often Outperform Hedge Funds

The dream of many investors is to build enough net worth to be able to invest in hedge funds. However, hedge funds frequently underperform index funds. These mystical funds are able to invest in just about anything, including complex derivatives. Having such great flexibility and sophistication should ensure excellent results, but moreover, this is not always the case.

There are many reasons to stick to index funds:
  1. Hedge funds have very high fees. The only people that consistently make money from a hedge fund are the fund managers. The standard fee structure is 2% plus 20% of the profits. In addition, if the fund loses money, the managers are still paid. They also take a big chunk of any profits.
  • Similarly, If you’ve ever wondered why hedge fund managers are often billionaires, now you know.
  • On the other hand, these fees are very hard to overcome. A 2% fee means you’re already 2% behind. Losing 20% of your profits creates additional burden.
  • Keep in mind that many index funds have fees under 0.2%, and they keep their hands off your profits.
  1. Hedge funds have become too big. While index funds are incredibly large, this isn’t an issue. Many hedge fund have become too big to take full advantage of lucrative financial opportunities. When a great opportunity presents itself, the fund can’t put enough money into that opportunity to obtain the best return.
  • Hedge fund must invest a significant portion of the fund in lower quality investments. The size of a fund can be very challenging. Warren Buffett has often said he could earn 100% per year on a million dollars. Investing several billion dollars is very limiting.
  1. The market is very efficient. This simply means that all the information available to investors has already been incorporated into price of stocks. In theory, it isn’t possible to beat the market.
  • Obviously, the market isn’t 100% efficient, since there are investors that regularly outperform the market. However, beating the market consistently is very challenging. Plus, to make up for that extra 2% fee, hedge funds must beat the market by more than 2%. That doesn’t even take into account the 20% profit scrape.
  • Hedge funds must beat the market by a considerable amount to provide a competitive return to an investor.
  1. When hedge funds lose money, they can lose a lot. Hedge funds take on a high level of risk. Nonetheless, Hedge fund managers love risk. They’re already guaranteed 2%. Any profits greatly increase their income. The high level of risk is also necessary to overcome the fee structure and provide high returns to investors.
  • The ratio of risk to returns is quite high.
  • Hedge funds have a lot of exposure with margin accounts and short selling.
  1. Low liquidity makes it difficult for the investor to get out quickly. If the future isn’t looking bright, it can take time to get your investment out of the fund. In addition, you might watch your investment shrink on a daily basis before you’re able to cash out.
  2. Index funds have too many advantages. Index funds are able to provide comparable market returns with little of the risk found in hedge funds. However,  the ability to guarantee market-matching returns with low fees can’t be consistently matched by hedge funds.


Index funds have many advantages over hedge funds. You don’t need a million dollars in net worth to invest in an index fund. Hedge funds are unable to consistently beat the market and overcome the oppressive fee structure. With all things considered, the lowly index fund is an excellent investment for most investors.


The FTG Knowledge Bank