Hedge Funds vs Investment Banks: What Is The Difference, Which Is Right For You?

Deciding on where and how to invest your hard-earned money is never a walk in the park. There is a countless and unending stream of investment opportunities and strategies from which you can reap. While starting as an entrepreneur it is rather fair to rely on raising adequate capital for your new business.

For many people, the terms hedge funds and investment banks only have to do with high networth individuals. As much as it involves them, the idea is not completely true. There are two main investment vehicles in the business world: hedge funds and investment banks. Though they might work quite similarly, they have varying ways in which they employ to invest money. 

A major determinant of their differences is their primary focus. Hedge funds generate capital by pulling in money from a pool of investors and utilizing high-risk investment techniques to invest the funds for high returns in the short term. Investment banks are primarily focused on helping businesses raise capital, and manage finances and complex transactions. They generate revenue through the fees they charge for their services.

This post has detailed all you need to know about hedge funds and investment banks, how they operate, the pros and cons, and differences. Read through to see which is right for you.

Read also: How Do Hedge Funds Make Money?

What Is Hedge Funds?

A hedge fund is a type of investment fund that uses a variety of strategies to make profits in both good and bad markets.

It is a type of investment vehicle that uses pooled funds from investors to purchase securities or invest in various assets, usually to achieve high returns. Hedge funds are typically used by high-net-worth individuals (HNWIs) and institutional investors and can be used for various purposes, such as hedging, market speculation, and arbitrage.

You typically have to be accredited as an investor to engage in hedge fund investing. This means that you must have a net worth of at least $1 million (excluding your home equity) or have an income of at least $200,000 per year ($300,000 if married).

Check out: What is the Minimum Investment for Hedge Funds in 2022?

Types of Hedge Funds

There are countless hedge funds, each with specific strategies and characteristics. These all have one similar goal: to generate cash for their investors.

Some hedge funds invest in stocks, others invest in bonds, and others invest in a mix of both. Some also focus on a specific geographic region or industry, while others are more diversified.

What separates hedge funds from other investment vehicles is their flexibility. They can go long or short on stocks, meaning they can profit when the market goes up or down. They can also utilize a combination of leverage strategies to bolster their profits. Now, let us dive into the different types of hedge funds.

1. Macro Hedge Funds

There are a few different types of hedge funds, but the most common is the macro hedge fund.

Macro hedge funds invest in a variety of assets, including bonds, commodities, stocks, and commodities. They might also invest in private equity or venture capital deals.

As an outcome of investing in a variety of assets, macro funds can be quite risky. But they can also be very lucrative if they make the right bets.

2. Equity Hedge Funds

An equity hedge fund is a type of hedge fund that primarily invests in stocks. Its goal is to make money from both rising and falling stock prices, which is why it is also known as a market-neutral fund.

To achieve this, equity hedge funds use a variety of strategies, including shorting stocks, buying put options, and using derivatives. They can be quite risky but can also provide high returns if done correctly.

3. Relative Value Hedge Funds

They are a type of hedge fund that uses financial models to identify and invest in securities that are mispriced in the market. In other words, they look for undervalued or overvalued investments by the market and try to take advantage of the discrepancy.

This happens to be a very lucrative strategy; nonetheless, it also has a fair share of risk. Because Relative Value Hedge Funds are investing in securities that are not always popular, they can be more volatile than some other types of hedge funds.

4. Event Driven Hedge Funds

The different types of hedge funds have a particular Modus Operandi. Each one operates a little differently. One type of hedge fund is the event-driven hedge fund. These funds invest in companies or assets experiencing a specific event, such as a takeover, restructuring, or bankruptcy.

Event-driven hedge funds typically have a shorter investment horizon than other types of hedge funds, as they are looking to capitalize on events that will move the stock price of their target company. They also tend to be more volatile, as the prices of their investments can change rapidly in response to news events.

You should see: How Do Hedge Funds Make Money?

Characteristics of Hedge Funds

Hedge funds are seen as high-risk, high-reward investments and, as such, come with a higher price tag. Hedge funds generally employ investors to have a $1 million minimum networth. The different types of hedge funds share some similar characteristics. For example, they all typically use complex investment strategies and financial instruments.

Here are some of their characteristics.

1. Investment

There are no limitations to what hedge funds could invest in. They can invest in almost anything. Hedge funds readily invest in currencies, real estate, and lands.

2. Fees

Hedge funds typically charge clients performance fees and expense ratios for their services. A well-known fee structure is when 2% is charged on client asset management and a 20% charge on gains.

Check out: Hedge Funds vs Mutual Funds: What is the difference in 2022

3. Investors

Hedge funds are exclusive to individuals with a high networth of at least $1 million or an earning strength of $200,000 annually for the previous two years. Leverage

Leverage in hedge funds is often borrowed money. As a product of this, results have the potential to amplify. This is one of the reasons hedge funds are high-risk and can have deadening consequences if investments go bad.

Investment Banks Defined

An investment bank is a financial institution that helps companies and governments raise money by issuing and selling securities. They also provide advice on mergers and acquisitions and offer various other services such as market making, underwriting, and trading. Two of the most popular investment banks are Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley.

There are two main types of investment banks: commercial and investment. Commercial banks and investment banks.

Commercial banks are private equity firms that provide capital to businesses through loans or equity investments. They also render other services, including checking and savings accounts and mortgages. On the other hand, investment banks are public companies that trade on stock exchanges. They are only in the business of raising money by issuing and selling securities.

See also: Best Investment Banks in Australia In 2022 | Rates, Minimum Deposit

Types of Investment Banks

There are many types of investment banks. Each type of investment bank offers different services and has a different role in the financial world. Let us take a closer look at a few of them based on the size of their deals.

1. Bulge Bracket

These are amongst the world’s biggest and most influential financial services providers. They are multinational banks and include Citibank, JP Morgan, Barclays, etc. 

These companies command large business involvements in corporate and consumer banking domains, mortgage lending, and retail banking. 

Bulge brackets get involved in deal sizes worth $1 billion or more. They also offer investment research and advice. Their operations are not limited to a particular country or continent as they have networks worldwide. These massive giants serve other behemoths around the world. 

2. Mid-Market

These banks come immediately after bulge markets. They help to fill the gaps in business deals that the bulge bracket banks and elite boutique banks do not primarily focus on. Mid-market banks typically get involved in deal sizes worth between $500 million to $1 billion. 

Mid-markets are familiar faces in the financial community and can offer similar services to bulge bracket banks. However, their operations are only limited to a set geographical region. Unlike bulge bracket banks, they do not have networks around the world and are not patronized by global behemoths but by medium-scale businesses.

3. Elite Boutique

Elite boutique banks do not get involved in many activities. They focus on one particular sector or industry per time. An elite boutique bank can decide to function singularly on mergers and acquisitions, capital restructuring, or advisory services. 

These banks have a client base involved in the consumer goods or oil and gas sector. Their deal sizes are also not specific, as sometimes they can be equal to that of mid-market banks. It can range from $500 million to over $1 billion.  

4. Regional Boutique 

These banks are the least class of investment banks based on sizes. Their deal sizes are typically within the $10 million range but can go up to $50 million in some cases. They have a very limited geographical influence, and their clientele are mainly small local businesses.

As a function of their deal sizes, they do not engage in managing mergers or public issues and rarely attract equity investors. 

See also: Best Investment Banks In Canada In 2022

Functions of Investment Banks

They provide a wide range of services, including:

  • Acting as financial advisors to companies and governments
  • Providing underwriting and other services for issuing debt and equity securities
  • Trading securities, currencies, and other commodities
  • Managing money for individuals, trusts, and foundations
  • Offering financial consulting services

How Investment Banks Work

An investment bank is a type of financial institution that helps companies and governments raise money by underwriting and selling securities. They are focused on helping investors buy and sell securities. They do this through an operation known as trading.

In other words, they act as middlemen between investors and companies looking to raise money. 

Investment banks work in three main ways: underwriting, trading, and advising. Underwriting is when the investment bank buys securities from a company and then resells them to investors. Trading is when the investment bank buys and sells securities for its account. Advising is when the investment bank provides financial advice to companies or governments. All these activities are separated into two brackets: the buy-side and the sell-side. 

Hedge Funds Vs Investment Banks

There are a few key differences between hedge funds and investment banks.

1. SEC Regulation

The main difference between investment banks and hedge funds is that investment banks are regulated by the SEC, while hedge funds are not. This means that hedge funds can take on more risk in their investments and have more freedom in terms of their investments. On the other hand, investment banks are more heavily scrutinized and must adhere to stricter guidelines.

2. Minimum Investment

Hedge funds usually require a much larger minimum investment than investment banks do. This is because hedge funds are designed for wealthier investors.

3. Fees

Hedge funds usually charge a higher fee than investment banks do. This is because they are taking on more risk and providing a higher level of service. Investment banks, however, are in more control of their investments, reducing the risks.

4. Focus

Hedge funds are primarily concerned with pulling in very high returns in the shortest possible time. Investment banks are quite the opposite as they seek to gradually and steadily grow their investment returns.

5. Concentration

Hedge funds are focused on investments with short-term gains, and investment banks are more inclined to long-term investments.

Read Also: 10 Best Investments For Passive Income

Which Is Right for You?

Now that you understand the basics of hedge funds and investment banks, it is time to decide which is right for you.

Which is right for you depends on your goals and investment experience. If you are looking for a more hands-on approach to your investments and you are comfortable with taking risks, then a hedge fund is probably the better choice. 

They offer more flexibility and freedom than investment banks, and you have more control over your portfolio. However, they can also be more complicated and high-risk than investment banks.

If you want a more stable and secure option, then an investment bank might be your better choice. They offer a wider range of products and services and allow you to work with a dedicated advisor who can help you make the most of your money. They also offer lower rates of return but are less risky than hedge funds. They are easier to understand and less complex than hedge funds.

Pros and Cons of Hedge funds vs Investment Banks

Hedge funds:


  • Can offer a high degree of flexibility
  • May provide more opportunities for tax shelters


  • Can be more volatile than investment banks
  • May have less liquidity than investment banks
  • May have higher fees

Investment banks:


  • Are typically more stable and have lower risk than hedge funds
  • Have higher liquidity than hedge funds


  • May offer fewer opportunities for tax shelters
  • Are typically more expensive than hedge funds


When it comes to financing, there are a lot of intimidating terms and concepts that can be tough to wrap your head around. Two of the most important financial institutions for individual investors are hedge funds and investment banks.

Though they may sound similar, there are some key differences between these two types of institutions. However, they all share the same goal: to make money for their investors. If you are thinking about investing in a hedge fund, it is important to understand the different types and how they work. Follow this same approach when investing with an Investment bank. This will help you choose the fund that is right for you. 

Frequently Asked Questions

What makes hedge funds high-risk?

Hedge funds are high-risk because they make bets on investments irrespective of market conditions but only look to generate large returns in a short space of time and many times even with borrowed dollars.

Do investment banks generate more money than hedge funds?

No, they do not. Due to the hedge funds’ high-risk nature of investing, they make outsized returns in a short space of time thereby offering a higher pay ceiling unlike investment banks which are more focused on gradual growth.

Why do people prefer to invest with hedge funds?

This is because they use a variety of strategies to make profits in both good and bad markets.

What is the primary disparity between hedge funds and investment banks?

Hedge fund activities are centered on assisting individuals with a high networth to make money. On the other hand, investment banks’ activities are centered around financial institutions.

What role does an investment bank play?

An investment bank plays a role as the link between the investor and large enterprises. They offer financial advice to solve business challenges as well as finance procuring assistance.



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