Twelve billion dollars.

It’s more than JPMorgan Chase & Co. paid all 56,000 of its investment bank employees, and almost twice as much as gamblers lost in Las Vegas last year.

It’s also what 15 hedge fund managers collectively earned in 2019.

Five of them—Chris Hohn, Jim Simons, Ken Griffin, Steve Cohen and Chase Coleman—reaped more than $1 billion each, according to estimates by the Bloomberg Billionaires Index.

The rewards for the men—and they’re all men—are notable, especially given only a third of the 15 managers on the list beat the S&P 500 Index’s 29% gain last year. It also comes as the hedge fund industry has been grappling with closures and mediocre returns.

Hedge fund advocates say they’re supposed to profit regardless of whether the market goes up or down and performance shouldn’t only be compared with equity indexes. Still, many were boosted by soaring stocks as central banks, including the Federal Reserve, kept monetary policy loose.

Many of the firms made money betting on the same stocks, typically tech names. More than half those on Bloomberg’s list counted Alibaba Group Holdings Ltd. and Facebook Inc. among their top 10 contributors to equity returns, according to an analysis of regulatory filings.

“If that’s where the opportunity is, it’s where it is,” said Darren Wolf, head of alternative investment strategies for the Americas at Aberdeen Asset Management, which invests in hedge funds on behalf of its clients. “But it creates challenges for us,” he said, because Aberdeen’s clients are already invested in indexes heavily weighted with tech stocks.

Most of the managers on this year’s list charge fees of at least 20% on gains, even as the industry is slashing fees amid pressure from investors disappointed with years of lackluster performance. Representatives for the firms on the list declined to comment.

Marcus Frampton, chief investment officer for Alaska Permanent Fund Corp., said his firm, which oversees $68 billion, is “happy to pay 20% in fees” as long as a manager consistently produces benchmark-beating returns. “That represents skill not market exposure.’’

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