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Hedge fund industry could become the investment banks of the future

Times Online – Mark Twain said that visiting a fortune-teller “was just as good as going to the opera, and the cost scarcely a trifle more — ergo, I will disguise myself and go again”. But he was visiting a clairvoyant at the height of 19th-century America; today in Britain, he’d be as likely to find himself talking to a hedge fund manager if he was seeking enlightenment about the future — and it might not be as much fun, either.

Hedge fund managers have made a healthy living in the past from predicting trends, but it is a precarious business at the best of times, and now is not the best of times. Few are willing to put money on what will happen to their industry in the future. True, despite 2008 being the worst year on record for the industry, they are bullish, claiming that it will survive and, in the long term, flourish, but after that things get complicated. There are almost as many opinions on how the industry will need to change to achieve this as there are investment strategies.

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