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Two and Twenty


“Two and Twenty” is a compensation structure typically used by hedge funds and private equity funds. The “two” refers to the 2% annual management fee, based on assets under management, that the fund charges its investors. The “twenty” represents the 20% performance or incentive fee charged on any profits generated by the fund.


The phonetic pronunciation of “Two and Twenty” is /tuː ænd ‘twɛnti/.

Key Takeaways

  1. Two and Twenty is a widely used compensation structure within the hedge fund industry. It refers to the way fund managers are rewarded for their services. ‘Two’ represents 2% of the total fund’s assets under management as a management fee, while ‘Twenty’ represents 20% of the fund’s profits as a performance fee.
  2. The Two and Twenty model is popular because it aligns the interests of the hedge fund managers with those of the investors. The management fee ensures that the operational costs of the fund are covered, and the performance fee motivates the managers to generate higher returns.
  3. However, the Two and Twenty model has been criticized for potentially promoting excessive risk-taking by managers to achieve higher returns. Furthermore, due to pressure from investors and a generally underperforming hedge fund industry, many funds are moving away from this traditional model, opting instead for lower or more variable fee structures.


The term “Two and Twenty” is significant in the financial world as it refers to a common fee structure used by hedge fund managers. The “two” represents a 2% management fee, which is calculated based on the total asset value that a manager oversees. This fee is charged regardless of the fund’s performance. The “twenty” signifies a 20% performance or incentive fee, usually calculated from the profits earned by the fund above a certain threshold. This fee structure motivates fund managers to maximize their performance as their compensation is directly tied to the fund’s profits. Overall, this financial structure is essential in understanding the compensation mechanisms within hedge funds and the incentive systems within the finance industry.


The “Two and Twenty” fee structure is employed as a form of compensation for hedge fund managers or private equity firms for their services in managing the investment portfolio. The primary purpose of this fee arrangement is to provide motivation and incentive for fund managers, linking their income directly to the performance of the fund. This structure aligns the interests of the fund managers with the investors, thereby encouraging the managers to generate optimal returns. The first part of the “Two and Twenty” structure, the two percent, refers to the management fee, charged based on the total assets of the fund. This guarantees a stable revenue stream for the managers, irrespective of the fund’s performance. On the other hand, the twenty percent component is a performance fee, earned only on the returns beyond a predetermined benchmark. Therefore, the “Twenty” becomes a reward for good performance, pushing the fund managers to strive for exceptional results.


1. Hedge Fund Management: The most common use case of the two and twenty structure is in the hedge fund industry. Hedge fund managers typically charge their clients two percent of the total asset value as a management fee, and an additional twenty percent of any profits earned. For example, if a hedge fund manages $1 billion and returns 10% ($100 million) in a given year, they’d earn $20 million (2% of $1 billion) as a management fee and an additional $20 million (20% of the $100 million profit), totaling $40 million in fees.2. Venture Capital Funds: Venture capital funds often use the two and twenty compensation model. A VC firm managing $500 million might charge a 2% management fee annually ($10 million), and 20% performance fees on any profits gained from their investments. So, if one of their portfolio companies exits and the fund gains $200 million, the firm would take $40 million (20% of the profit) as its performance fee. 3. Private Equity: Similar to the previous examples, private equity firms typically follow this two and twenty model. For instance, if a PE firm is managing a fund of $2 billion and generates a return of 15% ($300 million), they would take $40 million (2% of total fund) as a management fee plus $60 million (20% of the profit), resulting in a total of $100 million in fees.

Frequently Asked Questions(FAQ)

What is ‘Two and Twenty’?

‘Two and Twenty’ is a common fee structure used by many hedge funds. It includes a 2% annual management fee on total assets and a 20% performance or incentive fee on profits.

Is the ‘Two and Twenty’ structure applied evenly across all hedge funds?

No, not all hedge funds apply this fee structure. Some may charge less or more, depending on their management strategy, fund size, or the fund’s track record.

Does the 2% management fee apply even if the fund does not make a profit?

Yes, the 2% management fee is applied to the total assets of the fund regardless of its performance. It is meant to cover the operating expenses of the fund.

When is the 20% performance fee applied?

The 20% performance fee is only applied to the profits made by the fund. If no profits are made, the performance fee cannot be charged.

What did the ‘Two and Twenty’ structure originate from?

The ‘Two and Twenty’ fee structure has its roots in the compensation structure for ship captains in the early days of long-distance trade, where the captains were compensated via some proportion of the profits.

Does the 20% performance fee have a threshold?

Often a hedge fund will apply a high-water mark or hurdle-rate to their 20% performance fee. This means that the performance fee will only apply to profits beyond a certain threshold.

Are ‘Two and Twenty’ fees tax-deductible?

In general, the 2% management fee can be tax-deductible for the investors, depending on the tax laws in their jurisdiction. The 20% performance fee is usually treated as a capital gain for tax purposes.

How does the ‘Two and Twenty’ fee structure impact the investor’s earnings?

This compensation model can significantly impact an investor’s net returns, hence, it’s crucial for them to carefully analyze the potential implications of such high fees in case of lower returns or losses.

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