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Hedge fund managers and deceit: is the accusation of performance manipulation valid?

Zachary Alexander Smith (School of Business, Saint Leo University, Chesapeake, Virginia, USA)
Muhammad Zubair Mumtaz (School of Social Sciences & Humanities, National University of Sciences & Technology, Islamabad, Pakistan)

Chinese Management Studies

ISSN: 1750-614X

Article publication date: 7 August 2017



The purpose of this paper is to examine whether there is significant evidence that hedge fund managers engage in deceptive manipulation of their reported performance results.


A model of hedge fund performance has been developed using standard regression analysis incorporating dependent lagged variables and an autoregressive process. In addition, the extreme bounds analysis technique has been used to examine the robustness and sensitivity of the explanatory variables. Finally, the conditional influence of the global stock market’s returns on hedge fund performance and the conditional return behavior of the Hedge Fund Index’s performance have been explored.


This paper begins by identifying a model of hedge fund performance using passive index funds that is well specified and robust. Next, the lag structure associated with hedge fund returns has been examined and it has been determined that it seems to take the hedge fund managers two months to integrate the global stock market’s returns into their reported performance; however, the lagged variables were reduced from the final model. The paper continues to explore the smoothing behavior by conditioning the dependent lagged variables on positive and negative returns and find that managers are conservative in their estimates of positive performance events, but, when experiencing a negative result, they seem to attempt to rapidly integrate that effect into the return series. The strength of their integration increases as the magnitude of the negative performance increases. Finally, the performance of returns for both the Hedge Fund Index and the passive indices were examined and no significant differences between the conditional returns were found.

Research limitations/implications

The results of this analysis illustrate that hedge fund performance is not all that different from the performance of passive indices included in this paper, although it does offer investors access to a unique return distribution. From a management perspective, we are reminded that we need to be cautious about hastily arriving at conclusions about something that looks different or feels different from everything else, because, at times, our preconceived notions will cause us to avoid participating in something that may add value to our organizations. From an investment perspective, sometimes having something that looks and behaves differently from everything else, improves our investment experience.


This paper provides a well-specified and robust model of hedge fund performance and uses extreme bounds analysis to test the robustness of this model. This paper also investigates the smoothing behavior of hedge fund performance by segmenting the returns into two cohorts, and it finds that the smoothing behavior is only significant after the hedge funds produce positive performance results, the strength of the relationship between the global stock market and hedge fund performance is more economically significant if the market has generated a negative performance result in the previous period, and that as the previous period’s performance becomes increasingly negative, the strength of the relationship between the Hedge Fund Index and the global stock market increases.



Smith, Z.A. and Mumtaz, M.Z. (2017), "Hedge fund managers and deceit: is the accusation of performance manipulation valid?", Chinese Management Studies, Vol. 11 No. 3, pp. 387-414.



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