These two types of investment products have their similarities and differences.

First, the similarities:
Both mutual funds and hedge funds are managed portfolios. This means that a manager (or a group of managers) picks securities that he or she feels will perform well and groups them into a single portfolio. Portions of the fund are then sold to investors who can participate in the gains/losses of the holdings. The main advantage to investors is that they get instant diversification and professional management of their money.

Now, the differences:
Hedge funds are managed much more aggressively than their mutual fund counterparts. They are able to take speculative positions in derivative securities such as options and have the ability to short sell stocks. This will typically increase the leverage - and thus the risk - of the fund. This also means that it's possible for hedge funds to make money when the market is falling. Mutual funds, on the other hand, are not permitted to take these highly leveraged positions and are typically safer as a result.

Another key difference between these two types of funds is their availability. Hedge funds are only available to a specific group of sophisticated investors with high net worth. The U.S. government deems them as "accredited investors", and the criteria for becoming one are lengthy and restrictive. This isn't the case for mutual funds, which are very easy to purchase with minimal amounts of money.

For further reading on these two types of funds, please see our Mutual Fund Basics tutorial and our article Taking a Look behind Hedge Funds.

  1. How do hedge funds use equity options?

    With the growth in the size and number of hedge funds over the past decade, the interest in how these funds go about generating ... Read Full Answer >>
  2. Can mutual funds only hold stocks?

    There are some types of mutual funds, called stock funds or equity funds, which hold only stocks. However, there are a number ... Read Full Answer >>
  3. How do mutual funds compound interest?

    The magic of compound interest can be summed up as the concept of interest making interest. On the other hand, simple interest ... Read Full Answer >>
  4. Do mutual funds pay interest?

    Some mutual funds pay interest, though it depends on the types of assets held in the funds' portfolios. Specifically, bond ... Read Full Answer >>
  5. Why have mutual funds become so popular?

    Mutual funds have become an incredibly popular option for a wide variety of investors. This is primarily due to the automatic ... Read Full Answer >>
  6. Who do hedge funds lend money to?

    Many traditional lenders and banks are failing to provide loans. In their absence, hedge funds have begun to fill the gap. ... Read Full Answer >>
Related Articles
  1. Investing Basics

    5 Ways to Double Your Investment

    So if you want to go double, consider these five classic strategies to help turn your vision into a reality.
  2. Credit & Loans

    Explaining Leveraged Loans

    Leveraged loans are loans extended to companies or people who already have large amounts of debt.
  3. Investing

    2 Common Ways to Misuse Target Date Funds

    The world of asset classes is just as complicated as taking vitamins. How much should you take of small caps? Intermediate bonds? Emerging market stocks?
  4. Mutual Funds & ETFs

    What Target-Date Funds Can Teach About Investing

    Target-date funds are a popular way to invest for retirement. Here's what they can teach the novice investor.
  5. Investing Basics

    Learn How To Trade Gold In 4 Steps

    Trading spot gold or gold futures, equities and options isn’t hard to learn, but the activity requires skill sets unique to these markets.
  6. Economics

    The Effect of Fed Fund Rate Hikes on Gold

    Explore the historical relationship between interest rate increases and the price of gold, and consider what effect a fed funds rate hike might have on gold.
  7. Investing

    The ABCs of Bond ETF Distributions

    How do bond exchange traded fund (ETF) distributions work? It’s a question I get a lot. First, let’s explain what we mean by distributions.
  8. Mutual Funds & ETFs

    4 Mutual Funds Warren Buffet Would Buy

    Learn about four mutual funds Warren Buffett would invest and recommend to his trustee, and discover detailed analysis of these mutual funds.
  9. Mutual Funds & ETFs

    Passively Managed Vs. Actively Managed Mutual Funds: Which is Better?

    Learn about the differences between actively and passively managed mutual funds, and for which types of investors each management style is best suited.
  10. Professionals

    How to Navigate Taxable Mutual Fund Distributions

    It's almost time for year-end capital gains distributions for mutual funds. Here's how to monitor them and minimize their tax impact.
  1. Put-Call Parity

    A principle that defines the relationship between the price of ...
  2. Equity Risk Premium

    The excess return that investing in the stock market provides ...
  3. Alpha

    Alpha is used in finance to represent two things: 1. a measure ...
  4. Maturity

    The period of time for which a financial instrument remains outstanding. ...
  5. Employee Stock Option - ESO

    A stock option granted to specified employees of a company. ESOs ...
  6. Capitalization Rate

    The rate of return on a real estate investment property based ...

You May Also Like

Hot Definitions
  1. Purchasing Power

    The value of a currency expressed in terms of the amount of goods or services that one unit of money can buy. Purchasing ...
  2. Real Estate Investment Trust - REIT

    A REIT is a type of security that invests in real estate through property or mortgages and often trades on major exchanges ...
  3. Section 1231 Property

    A tax term relating to depreciable business property that has been held for over a year. Section 1231 property includes buildings, ...
  4. Term Deposit

    A deposit held at a financial institution that has a fixed term, and guarantees return of principal.
  5. Zero-Sum Game

    A situation in which one person’s gain is equivalent to another’s loss, so that the net change in wealth or benefit is zero. ...
  6. Capitalization Rate

    The rate of return on a real estate investment property based on the income that the property is expected to generate.
Trading Center
You are using adblocking software

Want access to all of Investopedia? Add us to your “whitelist”
so you'll never miss a feature!