Running a Hedge Fund Is Harder Than It Looks on TV

Do you remember a time, only a short while ago, when virtually anybody could start a hedge fund? It seemed so easy: billions of dollars were being thrown around like confetti, even at first-time managers. You could make money with your eyes closed. Or so it seemed.

Ronald G. Insana was one of the people who chased that dream. Yes, that Mr. Insana — the man who spent more than a decade as one of CNBC’s most prominent anchormen, interviewing some of the biggest titans in business and trying to make sense of the daily gyrations of the market.

In March 2006, Mr. Insana left the network to try his hand at becoming one of those titans, setting up a fund to help investors get into hedge funds, a so-called fund of funds. Paul Kedrosky, the writer and investor, said at the time that Mr. Insana’s announcement “reminded him a little of Lou Dobbs going to at the peak of the dot-com bubble.” Mr. Dobbs’s adventure, you may recall, didn’t turn out well; he’s back on TV.

Two weeks ago, Mr. Insana announced that he was throwing in the towel. Though his career detour doesn’t rank on the flameout scale anywhere approaching the debacle, it is an unusually instructive and cautionary tale.

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