Hedge Funds for the People--Not

Christian Baha is hawking a fund of hedge-like funds for the people called Superfund. The Austrian-based Superfund offers 20 funds, two of them sold in the U.S. These are the kind of hedge-fund imitating investments that can be toxic to your wealth.

At least that the definite impression I got after reading a well-reported story about Baha and Superfund on Bloomberg. Baha "invites people with as little as $5,000 to put their money into investments that take hedge fund-like risks," writes Bloomberg reporter Kambiz Foroohar. Save your money.

The fees are outrageous. Superfund charges a 1.85% annual management fee; 1% each year for the cost of creating and distributing the fund; and 0.15% for operating expenses; 4% annual sales commission on an investment for the first 2 1/2 years; $25 brokerage fee per trade; and Superfund can take 25% of profit after expenses in any month when the fund reaches a new high. According to the prospectus filed with the SEC, the Series A fund has to earn a 6.75% annual return befiore investors see any gain; for the Series B fund the comparable figure is a whoping 8.63%.

The reporter compares the performance of the Series A fund to Vanguard's S&P 500 equity index since October 2002 (when the first Superfund started trading in the U.S.).The Vanguard fund's total fees add up to 0.34% of assets. The S&P fund returned 73% versus 23% for Series A fund.

I expect a lot more marketing of hedge-fund like investments to individual investors. Hold on to your wallet.

About the author

Chris Farrell is the economics editor of Marketplace Money.

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