Our history

Founded in 1990 by a small group of European managers realising the need for mutual representation, AIMA has grown into a truly global organisation, with the majority of its 1,900 corporate member firms now based outside Europe’s borders. The global nature of investing, trading and regulation means our relevance today is as high as it has ever been.

From small European beginnings, an impressive international network encompassing Asia-Pacific, EMEA and the Americas has been constructed. Our members now come from over 60 different countries. The US has the dominant market share in the industry and represents over 50% of the aggregate AUM of our global membership; our Americas presence is further augmented by the existence of our National Groups in Canada and Cayman as well as our activities in Brazil. In Asia-Pacific, we have National Groups operating in Hong Kong, Singapore, Japan and Australia and an office in China, combined under a single regionally-focused operation.

The growth of the association in terms of membership and staff reflects the growth of the global alternative investment fund industry. In 1990, we had only a part-time secretary and even by 2005 we still had only eight staff members. Today, we have about 40 staff including roughly 27 in the London head office and the remainder in our representative offices around the world. Much of this additional resource has been added since the global financial crisis. The world changed in 2008/9, and with it, AIMA changed too. Following the crisis, we built new structures and brought in new people to address the challenges posed by the crisis and the regulatory reforms that followed.  

The Government and Regulatory Affairs department that we established after the crisis comprises former law firm partners and regulators. It provides members with guidance notes and updates on complex initiatives, detailing how developments may affect their business and the advocacy positions that we are adopting. With our public affairs work on the ground in the main financial and political centres, we are able to engage in extensive advocacy in the best interests of the industry.

We have established the Alternative Credit Council (ACC) to represent the interests of the private credit and non-bank bank finance participants in asset management.

Our communications team coordinates our engagement with the media globally and works closely with the industry to demonstrate the value of hedge funds to investors, financial markets and the ‘real’ economy.

At the very top of the organisation, we have had seven Chairs, some serving for five years, and only three Chief Executive Officers in our 25 years. Our current CEO, Jack Inglis, joined AIMA in February 2014.

Our focus on education and sound practices has resulted in a substantial body of work for investors and practitioners alike. The first AIMA due diligence questionnaire was issued in 1997 and has gone on to become the industry-standard DDQ, covering the selection of hedge fund managers, clearing members, prime brokers, CTAs/managed futures funds, fund of hedge funds managers and administrators. Our first Guide to Sound Practices (GSP) was published in September 2002, and our library of GSPs today includes guides to hedge fund management, valuation and asset pricing, administration, governance, business continuity, due diligence for managers and service providers, offshore alternative fund directors and fund of hedge funds managers.

In terms of our events, our initial Regulatory Forum was held in 2000, our 10th anniversary year, and our first Annual Conference was held in 2010, our 20th anniversary year. Today, the AIMA Global Policy & Regulatory Forum (the successor to the Regulatory Forum), the AIMA APAC Annual Forum, the AIMA Canada Investor Forum, the AIMA Australia Annual Forum, the AIMA Singapore Forum and the AIMA Japan Annual Forum, all open to all AIMA members, are our flagship fixtures and attract hundreds of delegates and leading speakers from the industry and the policymaker community globally.

We organise many additional events which provide helpful intelligence to delegates and networking opportunities. In 2016, we held over 210 events worldwide, with a total attendance of well over 11,000.

AIMA regards the alternative investment fund industry as a valuable contributor to the global economy. We provide a global forum for members to establish a common adherence to industry sound practice. Our goal remains to maintain a fair and functioning environment allowing alternative asset managers to contribute to growth through capital markets activities. AIMA stands for investor protection, global consistency of regulation, market efficiency and integrity and the mitigation of systemic risk by maintaining diversity of business models within the financial sector. AIMA works this through advocacy, awareness and education among policymakers, investors, regulators, the media and the wider public.

Above all, AIMA remains a “people organisation”. Crucial to everything AIMA does are its members, its network and its staff. The voluntary work provided by all who contribute in committees and working groups, who sponsor and host our events and facilitate our product offering is a priceless feature of the AIMA toolbox. Without our members, there would be no AIMA.

Notable dates in our history
  • 1990 – The forerunner to AIMA, the European Managed Futures Association (EMFA), was formed. By the end of that year, our members managed around $29bn in assets, versus a total industry size of $39bn globally. As EMFA’s name suggested, managed futures funds were then the core activity of the association’s membership, although hedge funds and currency funds were included. The association's original head office was at the International Petroleum Exchange in London. 
  • 1992 – Launched the first member publication, the EMFA Newsletter, the forerunner to the AIMA Journal. Regulation and tax soon became key interests.
  • 1997 – In the year of the Asian financial crisis we became the Alternative Investment Management Association (AIMA), recognising the broadened industry. AIMA Journal replaced the EMFA Newsletter.
  • 1999 – Launched our first National Group in Hong Kong.
  • 2000 – First AIMA Regulatory Forum (the forerunner to the AIMA Global Policy and Regulatory Forum) held. At the time, AIMA had over 250 member firms.
  • 2001 – Launched National Groups in Australia and Japan.
  • 2002 – AIMA co-launched the CAIA qualification with the Center for International Securities and Derivatives Markets (CISDM). Regulation as a focus was firmly staying and our website included a regulation and tax section for the first time.
  • 2003 - Launched National Groups in Canada and South Africa.
  • 2004 - Launched a National Group in Singapore.
  • 2005 – At the time of our 15th anniversary, we had 870 corporate members (over 3,000 individual contacts) in 46 countries. Our Council grew to 19 members. Our manager members’ AUM reached $1 trillion. Membership had become more global and fully reflective of industry interests.
  • 2006 - Launched a National Group in the Cayman Islands.
  • 2007 - After a number of years in London's Mayfair district, AIMA moved its corporate headquarters to 167 Fleet Street, London, which remains the association's head office. 
  • 2007/8 – The global financial crisis shook everyone in the financial sector and as the industry declined in size, so did AIMA. Our corporate membership fell from 1,300 in 2007 to 1,170 in 2009.
  • 2010 – As the industry recovered, our membership grew again to over 1,200 member firms. First AIMA Annual Conference held in London.
  • 2012 – Opened an office in New York.
  • 2014 - Established the Alternative Credit Council (ACC).
  • 2015 – 25th anniversary, marked by a charity gala dinner in London.
  • 2016 - Opened an office in Shanghai. Rebranded, including the first logo change since 1997. AIMA Journal re-designed and relaunched. Ended the year with more than 1,800 member firms, with a combined AUM of over $1.8 trillion.
  • 2017 - New website launched.