Hedge funds welcome the web but shun social media

The days of hedge funds presenting themselves to the world as just a small brass door plate in Mayfair or Connecticut are over, as all but 8% now have websites – but tweeting and social media remain steps too far for most.

They have embraced the world wide web, but a survey from communications agency MHP, of 77 managers each running at least $1bn, found only one – Man Investments – was actively tweeting.

Man (@ManViewpoint) uses Twitter to cover issues from economic/investment views, to corporate announcements, marketing events and press coverage.

A spokeswoman for Man said: “We launched our presence on Twitter this year and are assessing ways of utilising social media more broadly. We see it as another way of engaging with the market, as well as a useful tool to highlight the broader range of Man’s activities, from fund manager views, to our involvement with the Man Booker prize.”

Martin Forrest, author of the MHP survey, said: “Historically, hedge fund managers have deliberately kept a low profile and managed their reputations accordingly. They are also concerned about the regulatory implications of social media.”

None MHP surveyed had a presence on Facebook, and only two – again, Man, and Bridgewater Associates – had dedicated channels on YouTube.

Other smaller managers have used YouTube, too, for various reasons.

Bill Browder, manager of Russian activist hedge fund Hermitage Capital, took to YouTube to broadcast the plight of Sergei Magnitsky, one of Hermitage’s Russian-based lawyers whom Browder said had been unjustly arrested, roughed-up by police, and imprisoned. Magnitsky died in jail in 2009.

LinkedIn is the most popular of the social media managers use (79% are members). Man Investments and Bridgewater are joined by Citadel as the managers with the highest number of employees who are members, and the most followed groups.

Use of Twitter could be set to grow, as 4% of managers MHP surveyed have secured their corporate name as an account, but are not yet active.

Some managers have found other media to broadcast their views to the broader public. A swathe of managers, investors, service providers and even a fund manager-turned-poet have appeared on UK radio program the N@ked Short Club, broadcast by Resonance FM on Monday evenings from 2100 GMT. It can be heard online at www.resonancefm.com.

Forrest said: “Hedge fund managers should start using social media more actively as additional channels through which to communicate and build lasting relationships with their stakeholders and to develop the reputation of their firms. Taking control of their content, by becoming the best provider of it, is important.”

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