What is a prime broker?

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Prime brokers provide an all-in-one trading and investing account for institutional traders and hedge funds. In this guide to prime brokers we will explain what a prime broker does, who they do it for and which type of prime broker is more appropriate for specific types of client.

Prime brokers provide trading and investing services to professional and institutional clients. Prime brokerage clients’ are split by size and asset class. But, the largest prime brokers in the world only accept very large clients so smaller and start-up hedge funds, brokers and traders must use a specific type of prime broker more appropriate to their trading.

The purpose of a prime broker is to act as the consolidated portfolio, risk and services account for a hedge fund. Their primary purpose is to allow hedge funds or large investment clients the ability to borrow securities or cash to trade and invest in order to achieve absolute returns.

Often hedge funds trade with many different brokers throughout the day who will then “give up” trades to the price broker where the bulk of a fund’s assets are held. Whilst the prime broker may handle the majority of a hedge fund’s execution it is normal for funds to spread business across multiple brokerage accounts to ensure that trades are executed with discretion and finesse.

Prime brokers also offer access to their client pool for capital introduction to increase the net asset value of hedge funds. This is also common with competing brokers who will want to add value to win execution business to generate commission.

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