Hedge Funds’ Image Crisis: Fighting Public Perceptions Against the Backdrop of Potential Financial Sector Reforms

Despite the generally business-friendly atmosphere of the Trump administration, hedge funds still face an uphill battle when it comes to negative perceptions by the general public and investors. While new SEC Chair Jay Clayton and other top officials have deep and genuine expertise in financial and regulatory topics, much of the public derives its views and attitudes from media reports emphasizing the downside of hedge fund investing. To address its image problem, it behooves the private funds industry to bridge the general public’s knowledge gap. In the background of this battle over the industry’s reputation, reforms that may benefit private funds – including revisions to the business income tax and a consolidation of certain regulatory functions – are potentially on the horizon. All of these points came across in the keynote speech by former SEC Chair Christopher Cox at the tenth annual Advanced Topics in Hedge Funds Practices Conference: Manager and Investor Perspectives recently produced by Morgan Lewis. This article presents the key takeaways from Cox’s talk. For coverage of last year’s conference, see “How Emerging Hedge Fund Managers Can Raise Capital in a Challenging Market Without Overstepping Legal Bounds” (Aug. 4, 2016). For additional insights from Morgan Lewis attorneys, see “Leading Law Firms Discuss Hedge Fund Marketing and Distribution Opportunities in a Post-Brexit World (Part Two of Two)” (Jul. 14, 2016); and “Operational Conflicts Arising Out of Simultaneous Management of Hedge Funds and Private Equity Funds (Part Two of Three)” (May 14, 2015).

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