Prime Brokerage is the generic name for a bundled package of services offered by investment banks to hedge funds. The business advantage to a hedge fund of using a Prime Broker is that the Prime Broker provides a centralized securities clearing facility for the hedge fund, and the hedge fund’s collateral requirements are netted across all deals handled by the Prime Broker. The Prime Broker benefits by earning fees (“spreads”) on financing the client’s long and short cash and security positions, and by charging, in some cases, fees for clearing and/or other services.
The basic services offered by a prime broker give a money manager the ability to trade with multiple brokerage houses while maintaining, in a centralized master account at their prime broker, all of the hedge fund’s cash and securities. Additionally, the prime broker offers stock loan services, portfolio reporting, consolidated cash management and other services. Fundamentally, the advent of the prime broker freed the money manager from the more time consuming and expensive aspects of running a fund. These services worked because they also allowed the money manager to maintain relationships with multiple brokerage houses for IPO allocations, research, best execution, conference access and other products.