The Space between Alpha and Beta (and Why Hedge Fund Investors Should Care)

The concept of alpha vs. beta within the investment community is anything but new.  But too often the discussion is black and white as if some universal on/off switch can only be turned to the traditional definitions of alpha or beta, with nothing existing in between.  We are at a time in the evolution of the hedge fund landscape when this topic is particularly meaningful, especially given the various labels that have been put on the industry such as “absolute return,” “uncorrelated asset class,” and “alpha generators.”  There are a number of methods and products today – devised by investment banks, fund managers and even an occasional academic – that claim to replicate hedge fund returns or provide something called hedge fund beta.  In a guest article, Clint Stone, CFA, Principal Investment Analyst covering hedge fund strategies at the investment office at Cornell University, summarizes the differences between the various replication and hedge fund beta methods, frames why hedge fund investors should care about these concepts and discusses how institutional investors may want to implement them (or at least think about them) in their asset allocation and portfolio construction.

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