At the GAIM Asia conference in Hong Kong this week, the audience participated in an annual electronic interactive poll that was analysed on stage by a stellar line-up of industry experts. Back from 2008 were Kirby Daley and Ed Rogers, and they were joined by Peter Douglas, Vincent Duhamel and Todd Everts.

During the poll on Wednesday, Kirby Daley said the results of this year's poll might be revisited in future. So, before we get to the predictions for 2009, let's see what the audience said last year.

AsianInvestor has archived the adaludience responses and the panel comments from 2008. The panellists' observations were more accurate than the audience, who said some very strange things. The percentages are the level of audience member responses.

Here is what people said last year:

Best/most profitable growth for hedge funds in 2008
Winner: Greater China, 29.2%

Best performing Asia ex-Japan strategy in 2008?
Winner: Volatility, 56.9%

What will be the total size of global write-downs associated with the subprime crisis?
Winner: $500 billion, 35.3%
2) More than $1 trillion, 20.6%

Jonathan Field (HSBC): "A trillion -- it's a load of money but we'll get away with it."

Ed Rogers: "I go with a trillion too -- this smells worse than the savings and loans crisis did."

Kirby Daley: "Stay away from financials for a very long time. We're nowhere near finished."

How long will the crunch continue?
Winner: 1 year, 50%

Best currency returns over next 12 months?
Winner: RMB, 49.3%

Which asset class will generate the best returns in the next 24 months?
Winner: US financial stocks, 24.6%
2) Bric equities, 23.1%

Japan is going to become:

Winner: Switzerland -- old, rich, stable, aloof, boring, 49.2%

Will pollution drive hedge funds from Hong Kong?
Yes, 47.1%
No, 52.9%

The next president of the United States will be?
Winner: Barack Obama, 54.7%

Conclusion. Obama and volatility aside, these results are laughable with hindsight. US financial stocks to be the number one performer in 2008? Greater China as the big growth strategy? $500 billion for write-downs?

Polling sessions like this are meant partly as a bit of fun, but a lot of seriously well-paid people in the alternatives industry who were calling the shots had gut feelings this way early last year. You have to wonder.

The results from this year's poll are now listed below. We are listing just the top answers in order to be able to compare them to next year's poll (assuming we are invited back). The questions were considerably more imprecise this year.

Did hedge funds do a superb job in 2008?
Winner: A few did, 77%

Is 2009 shaping up to be a good year for hedge fund performance?
Winner: Too early to tell, 50%

Should investors avoid regulated hedge funds?
Winner: No, 39% 

Hedge fund fees should...?
Winner: Decrease, 39%

Hedge fund fees will...?
Winner: Stay the same, 44% 

Do managed accounts really make a difference?
Winner: Yes, but they are too operationally complex to become mainstream, 58% 

How will investors prefer to pay for operational due diligence and all areas of non investment due diligence?
Winner: As an outsourced service, 45%

Obtaining capacity in good hedge funds will be an issue in <year>?
Winner: It's an issue now, 35% 

When will hedge fund AUM exceed $2 trillion again?
Winner: After 2011, 60%