Browse Analysis of Managed and Structured Products

20.4 Alternative Investment Structures

Explore the main structural features of hedge funds, alternative mutual funds, fund of hedge funds, and ETFs tailored for Canadian investors.

Describe the Main Structural Features of Hedge Funds, Alternative Mutual Funds, Fund of Hedge Funds, and ETFs

For Canadian investors, there are various ways to access alternative investment strategies. These include hedge funds, alternative mutual funds (often referred to as liquid alternatives), ETFs, and closed-end funds. While the types of strategies they employ can be similar, there are significant differences in their product features, regulatory restrictions, and distribution requirements. Let’s delve into the characteristics of each:

  • Hedge Funds
  • Alternative Mutual Funds (Liquid Alternatives)
  • Funds of Hedge Funds
  • ETFs (Exchange-Traded Funds)

Closed-end funds are explored in more detail in Chapter 22.

Hedge Funds

Structural Features:

  • Employ a wide variety of complex strategies which may involve leverage, short-selling, and derivatives.
  • Typically structured as limited partnerships or offshore corporations to offer tax advantages and greater regulatory flexibility.
  • Minimum investment threshold is considerably higher, attracting high-net-worth individuals and institutional investors.

Regulatory Environment:

  • Less regulatory oversight compared to mutual funds, following private placement rules.
  • Subject to accredited investor rules, meaning they are available only to investors that meet certain financial criteria.

Alternative Mutual Funds (Liquid Alternatives)

Structural Features:

  • Managed similarly to traditional mutual funds but allowed to engage in alternative strategies such as leveraging, short-selling, and derivatives trading within regulatory limits.
  • Offer daily liquidity and transparent pricing.
  • Accessible to retail investors with no minimum investment requirements, akin to mutual funds.

Regulatory Environment:

  • Subject to stringent regulation under the National Instrument 81-102 detailing investment practices and leverage limits.

Funds of Hedge Funds

Structural Features:

  • Invest in a portfolio composed of various hedge funds to achieve diversification across different strategies and managers.
  • Offer investors indirect access to hedge fund strategies with lower minimum investment requirements.

Regulatory Environment:

  • These funds are often more regulated than standalone hedge funds and may be available to a broader range of investors.
  • Must adhere to the regulations applicable to traditional mutual funds if offered to retail investors.

ETFs (Exchange-Traded Funds) Focusing on Alternative Strategies

Structural Features:

  • Structured to trade like stocks on exchange but offer different underlying alternative strategies including leveraged and inverse exposures.
  • Provide transparency with holdings and offer intraday liquidity.

Regulatory Environment:

  • Subject to regulations governing publicly traded securities, offering a high degree of investor protection.
  • Must comply with National Instrument 81-102 requirements.

Key Differences

Feature Hedge Funds Liquid Alternatives Fund of Hedge Funds ETFs
Investor Access High Net Worth & Institutional Retail & Institutional Retail & Institutional Retail & Institutional
Minimum Investment High Low Low Low
Regulatory Scrutiny Low High Medium High
Liquidity Restricted Daily Can vary Intraday
Complexity High Medium Medium Medium

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Q: What are the main advantages of investing in hedge funds?

A: Hedge funds offer sophisticated strategies which can lead to high returns and greater diversification, but involve higher risk and typically require a higher minimum investment.

Q: Are there risks associated with alternative mutual funds?

A: Yes, while they offer daily liquidity and transparency similar to mutual funds, they can involve complex strategies that carry higher risk compared to traditional mutual funds.

Q: How do ETFs differ when they focus on alternative strategies?

A: ETFs offer transparency and intraday liquidity while employing alternative strategies, but they are still subject to similar regulatory scrutiny as traditional mutual funds.

Q: Can retail investors access hedge funds?

A: Hedge funds are usually only accessible to accredited investors due to high minimum investments and specific financial criteria.


  • Hedge Fund: A pooled investment fund that employs diverse and complex strategies including leverage, derivatives, and short-selling.
  • Alternative Mutual Fund: Also known as liquid alternatives, these funds adopt alternative investment strategies usually not available to traditional mutual funds.
  • Fund of Hedge Funds: An investment vehicle that holds a basket of various hedge funds, providing diversified exposure.
  • ETF (Exchange-Traded Fund): An investment fund traded on stock exchanges, similar to stocks, but holding a portfolio of assets.

Key Takeaways

  1. Hedge funds offer high-return potential and diversified strategies but are restricted to accredited investors due to higher risk.
  2. Alternative mutual funds offer retail investors access to many hedge fund strategies with greater transparency and daily liquidity.
  3. Funds of hedge funds provide diversified access to various hedge fund strategies with lower entry barriers compared to direct hedge fund investment.
  4. ETFs focusing on alternative strategies combine the accessibility and liquidity of ETFs with the innovative investment strategies akin to hedge funds or liquid alternatives.

📚✨ Quiz Time! ✨📚

🧐 Assess and Solidify Your Understanding

Welcome to the Knowledge Checkpoint! You’ll find 10 carefully curated quizzes designed to reinforce the key concepts covered. These questions will help you gauge your grasp of the material, identify areas that need further review, and ensure you’re on the right track towards mastering the content for the Canadian Securities certification exams. Take your time, think critically, and use these quizzes as a tool to enhance your learning journey. 📘✨

Good luck! 🍀💪

## Which of the following is a characteristic feature of hedge funds? - [ ] Highly regulated with full transparency - [ ] Available to all retail investors without restrictions - [x] Relatively less regulated and often available only to accredited investors - [ ] Only use passive investment strategies > **Explanation:** Hedge funds are relatively less regulated compared to traditional investment vehicles and often have higher entry requirements, such as being available only to accredited investors. ## What distinguishes liquid alternatives from traditional hedge funds? - [x] They have easier access for retail investors and are usually more regulated - [ ] They require higher minimum investment amounts - [ ] They are exempt from regulatory oversight - [ ] They employ only traditional long equity strategies > **Explanation:** Liquid alternatives, also known as alternative mutual funds, have regulatory structures that make them more accessible to retail investors and ensure greater transparency and liquidity compared to traditional hedge funds. ## Which of the following is a primary feature of an ETF (Exchange-Traded Fund)? - [ ] Generally requires a long holding period - [ ] Actively managed with complex strategies - [x] Generally tracks an index and trades like a stock - [ ] Has a high investment minimum > **Explanation:** ETFs usually track an index or a basket of assets and can be bought and sold on stock exchanges like individual stocks, providing liquidity and ease of access. ## What is a fund of hedge funds? - [ ] A single hedge fund with various sub-strategies - [x] A pooled fund that invests in multiple hedge funds - [ ] An ETF that mimics hedge fund strategies - [ ] A mutual fund with a diversified strategy > **Explanation:** A fund of hedge funds is an investment vehicle that allocates its assets among several different hedge funds, aiming for diversification and risk mitigation. ## Which of the following products is typically available to accredited investors only? - [x] Hedge funds - [ ] ETFs - [ ] Liquid alternatives - [ ] Mutual funds > **Explanation:** Hedge funds usually have higher entry requirements and are often restricted to accredited investors, providing them with access to more sophisticated and potentially riskier investment strategies. ## What is one of the main advantages of ETFs over hedge funds? - [x] Higher liquidity and lower fees - [ ] Exclusivity in strategies - [ ] Higher returns guaranteed - [ ] No need for regulatory compliance > **Explanation:** ETFs generally offer higher liquidity as they can be traded like stocks, and they tend to have lower fees compared to the often high and variable fees associated with hedge funds. ## How do liquid alternatives benefit investors? - [ ] By imposing high minimum investments - [x] By offering diversified strategies with easier access and more regulation - [ ] By providing guaranteed returns - [ ] By requiring long lock-up periods > **Explanation:** Liquid alternatives give investors access to diversified and sophisticated strategies while being subject to greater regulatory oversight and easier accessibility due to lower minimum investments compared to traditional hedge funds. ## What is a typical feature of a closed-end fund? - [ ] Continuous creation of new shares - [x] A fixed number of shares that trade on the secondary market - [ ] Mandatory redemption options for investors - [ ] Only managed passively > **Explanation:** Closed-end funds have a fixed number of shares that are traded on the secondary market, unlike open-end funds that continuously create and redeem shares based on investor demand. ## Why might an investor choose a fund of hedge funds over a single hedge fund? - [ ] To avoid management fees - [ ] To take on more risk - [x] To achieve greater diversification and potentially reduce risk - [ ] To ensure higher returns > **Explanation:** An investor might choose a fund of hedge funds to achieve greater diversification across different hedge fund strategies and managers, potentially reducing overall risk. ## For Canadian investors, what is one of the main differences between hedge funds and liquid alternatives? - [ ] Both are subject to the same level of regulatory oversight - [ ] Both require high minimum investment amounts - [x] Hedge funds are typically less regulated and less accessible compared to liquid alternatives - [ ] Liquid alternatives are only available to institutional investors > **Explanation:** Hedge funds tend to be less regulated and generally have higher entry barriers, making them less accessible compared to liquid alternatives, which are more regulated and easier to access by retail investors.

Exciting News!

🚀 Launch Date: April 14th

🎉 Now On App Store!

📱 Available on iPhone and iPad

📚 Master the CSC® Exams with our top ranked iOS app! Packed with thousands of sample questions, it's your perfect study companion for acing the Canadian Securities Course Certification exams!

🎯 Achieve Your Professional Goals with ease. Try it now and take the first step towards success!

🌟 CSC® Exams 🌟

Download Today!

In this section

  • 20.4.1 Exempt Market Alternative Funds (hedge Funds)
    An in-depth look into exempt market alternative funds, commonly known as hedge funds, their structures, strategies, and suitability for investors.
  • 20.4.2 Who Can Invest In Hedge Funds?
    Understand the qualifications necessary for investing in hedge funds in Canada, covering minimum investment exemptions, accredited investor exemptions, and offering memorandum exemptions.
  • 20.4.3 Hedge Fund Features
    Comprehensive guide on the unique features of hedge funds including incentive fees, high-water marks, hurdle rates, liquidity, transparency, and investor protection.
  • 20.4.4 Alternative Mutual Funds (liquid Alts)
    Learn about Alternative Mutual Funds (Liquid Alts) in Canada, their benefits, regulations, key differences from conventional mutual funds and hedge funds, and the investment landscape in various countries.
  • 20.4.5 Funds Of Hedge (or Liquid Alts) Funds
    Explore the structure, advantages, and disadvantages of Funds of Hedge Funds (FoHF) and Liquid Alternative Funds, understanding their role within Canadian investment portfolios.
  • 20.4.6 Exchange-traded Funds (etfs)
    Comprehensive overview of Exchange-traded Funds (ETFs) regulations, features, and comparative benefits in the context of the Canadian Securities Course.
Saturday, July 13, 2024