Hedge funds: what positioning for 2024?

by Cedric Dingens

Preference for macro, equity and credit long/short strategies, but caution on multi-manager platforms.

A MIXED 2023

While equities enjoyed a positive start to 2023, hedge funds got off to a more mixed start. Indeed, following fears of a global economic slowdown, long/short equity managers started the year on a cautious note, maintaining a rather low net exposure to the market. For their part, global macro managers were hit by sharp reversals in trends, highlighted by the record fall in US 10-year yields following the regional banking crisis in the United States and the collapse of Credit Suisse.

Finally, after a remarkable 2022, relative value strategies, now dominated by the large multi-manager platforms, also stalled and were unable to keep pace with the rise in risk-free rates, which is their minimum target. But in the end – and it is true that the last two months of the year were particularly favourable – a diversified hedge fund portfolio was able to post a double-digit net return in 2023.


What about 2024? We are currently at a crossroads in terms of monetary policy. In fact, with the exception of Japan, the major central banks are now prepared, in the more or less short term, to lower their interest rates depending on the trend in inflation and economic growth. For their part, although the opinions of macro managers vary considerably, they generally agree that the market is hoping for a faster rate cut in the United States than might actually occur. With interest-rate volatility higher than that of equities, managers have reduced their risk allocations.

Certain themes, which did not always pay off in 2023, are still present in portfolios, such as bets on metals linked to the energy transition, particularly copper, on the normalisation of Japanese monetary policy and on long positions in certain emerging markets (Brazilian interest rates, Mexico, credit). After a year of contrasting results in 2023, macro managers should be well positioned to take advantage of volatility on the fixed-income, currency and commodities markets.


The ‘soft landing’ scenario that seems to be holding sway is giving a little more peace of mind to long/short equity managers, who have significantly increased their net exposure to the market in recent months. But make no mistake: good global long/short managers have posted returns of between +15% and +20% in 2023 – compared with an MSCI World index up by +21.8% – which constitutes positive alpha generation, firstly because of their exposure to the market of only around +60% and secondly because of their underweighting of the seven technology megastocks that have driven the market. Even Asian managers with a bias towards China posted positive returns over the past year, while the MSCI China index fell by -13.2% in 2023.

On the other hand, if there is one strategy that shows a little more cyclicality, it is the long/short equity strategy. At this stage, we believe that we are still in a cycle of rising alpha generation. What’s more, with the normalisation of interest rates and the fact that we are finally being paid to short stocks, we believe that a selection of good long/short managers is a good complement to an equity allocation in a portfolio. Perhaps it’s time to diversify your geographical allocation a little outside the US.


Multi-manager platforms have been the big winners in recent years. Since 2017, their assets under management have increased by +186% and the seven largest platforms, including Citadel, Millennium, Point 72 and Balyasny, now account for over 60% of the market share in this category. The asset class approaches and exposures vary from one company to another, so it is not always easy to compare them. That said, they are now waging a merciless war to attract the best traders, who are paid handsomely, which has an impact on costs.

In these platforms, a successful manager can receive performance fees even if the overall result is zero or even negative, which translates into what is known as ‘netting risk’. This risk can materialise more quickly if the performance of the funds falls short of expectations. For platforms that have experienced rapid growth, it will be necessary to digest the assets and assess whether there is any dilution of the added value in the final result. In addition, with liquidity requirements having become more restrictive, we now have to be very selective.

Finally, to conclude our overview of the positioning to adopt in 2024, we believe that good long/short credit managers should be able to generate attractive returns in the market environment that awaits us over the next few months.

In conclusion, the key to obtaining a satisfactory result from your hedge fund portfolio is to define your expectations clearly, as the construction and development of your portfolio will depend directly on this. To be successful, however, you need to bear in mind two important factors: firstly, you need to make a good selection beforehand, and secondly, you need to be as contrarian as possible.

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Antonio Mira

Antonio Mira joined NS Partners in 2006 as Group Chief Financial Officer. He heads the corporate functions and is involved in coordinating and implementing the decisions of the Executive Committee.
An experienced bank auditor, Antonio started his career in 1995 with Arthur Andersen, where he worked for some 7 years before joining Ernst & Young in 2002 as a Senior Manager.
Antonio is a Swiss chartered accountant and a Business graduate of Lausanne University (HEC).

Sébastien Poiret

Sébastien Poiret joined NS Partners in 2008 and manages funds of hedge funds and private client mandates. He also oversees the development of the Group’s offices in Mauritius.

Prior to joining NS Partners, he served as a Trader, Head of Manager research and Portfolio Manager in the USA and Switzerland for a single hedge fund (1998-2004) and for Optimal (2004-2008), Grupo Santander’s fund-of-hedge funds operations.

Sébastien holds a Bachelor’s degree in Corporate Finance from the ESPEME Business School (EDHEC Group) and an MBA in Finance and Economics from the Institute of Business Administration, both in Nice.

Abir Oreibi

Abir Oreibi joined the Board of the NS Partners Group in 2018, where she brings her truly international perspective and rich experience.
Among many other ventures, Abir set up’s first European office. After living and working in Shanghai, Hong Kong, Bangkok and London, she now lives in Geneva, where she is CEO of Lift Events, an organization that identifies technology trends, their business and social impact through the organization of events and open innovation programs. Issues related to the challenges and opportunities created by new technologies as well as the strategic responses from organizations are at the heart of Lift’s activities.
Abir holds a BA in Political Sciences from the University of Geneva. She is an investor, and member of advisory and innovation boards.

Romain Pidoux, CAIA

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Romain Pidoux joined NS Partners in 2011 and heads the Group’s Risk Management.
He started his financial career in 2005 as Head of Quantitative Analysis for a Swiss Family Office, selecting funds and managing portfolio allocation. In 2008, he switched to the alternative world and joined Peak Partners as hedge funds analyst.
He is a Chartered Alternative Investment Analyst (CAIA) and holds a Master’s degree in international relations from the Graduate Institute of International Studies at Geneva University.

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