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Do Women Manage Money Better Than Men?

The hedge fund industry has long been a male-dominated arena, but maybe that should change.

Consider that a new study shows hedge funds led by women far outperformed the global hedge fund index in the first three quarters of 2012.

The study, by consulting firm Rothstein Kass, found hedge funds owned or managed by women produced a return of 8.95% through September compared with a 2.69% return for the HFRX Global Hedge Fund Index.

"The fact that women-owned or managed hedge funds have been able to handily outperform their male counterparts is not particularly surprising," Meredith Jones, director at Rothstein Kass, said in a news release.

Jones said a number of studies have shown women investors are more risk-averse than men and therefore potentially "better able to escape market downturns and volatility."

"The outperformance by women-owned or managed hedge funds should make the case that investing in these types of funds is a smart business decision, rather than one that just feels good," Jones said.

Why Women Managed Hedge Funds Better Than Men in 2012

In 2012, women hedge fund managers were patient and did a better job of managing risks, the study said.

They were also less likely to try to time the market and therefore less likely to miss out on a big rally.

"What women-run firms are able to do is capture the upside while really limiting the downside," Jones told Yahoo!Finance.

Plus, women tend to manage hedge funds that are smaller in capital, and Jones says this allows them to be more nimble and better able to navigate the market.

Another study done last October by Joanne Hsu, an economist at the Federal Reserve Board, shows women's financial skills improve with age.

Her study found that men's financial proficiency tends to remain level over their lifetimes, or peak in the middle and decline at the end of their lives. Women, on the other hand, tend to improve their financial proficiency levels as they age.

What's Their Secret?

Before you go mapping out your 2013 investing strategies based on women-run hedge funds, Money Morning Capital Wave Strategist Shah Gilani points out that the Rothstein Kass study doesn't reveal the whole picture regarding managers' performance in 2012.

Gilani said that to draw concrete conclusions from the study, you would need to know which strategies the managers were using – long-only, long-short, macro, global, risk arbitrage.

He also said taking on more risk isn't always a bad thing.

"Being risk-averse in wildly swinging markets and deep bear markets isn't likely to get you outperformance when compared to equity benchmarks," Gilani said. "It's when the roller-coaster is out of control that you want your manager to make money, not just when the Ferris wheel is on its way up."

Gilani stressed he is not opposed to more women in the hedge fund business.

"As far as women running funds, I would like to see more women step out on their own and do what it takes to become white hot in an otherwise dull universe with only a handful of bright male stars," he said.

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