NEW YORK—Sard Verbinnen, Abernathy MacGregor and Kekst and Company—three firms industry observers are used to seeing at the top of the mergers and acquisitions advisory rankings—are also the three biggest advisors to the hedge fund industry, according to a new study from Absolute Return, a provider of hedge fund news and intelligence.

Absolute Return’s ranking found Sard Verbinnen providing counsel to funds that manage $153.38 billion in assets, followed by Abernathy MacGregory ($103.86 billion) and Kekst ($90.42 billion). Prosek Partners (the former CJP Communications) and ASC Advisors rounded out the top five, followed by Brunswick Group, Rubenstein Partners, Edelman, Walek & Associates and RLM Finsbury.

Of 268 firms managing at least $1 billion in assets, Absolute Return was able to identify 96 that are using external public relations counsel, although the publication says that number “likely understates the true total, as some hedge fund firms hire help secretly.”

The publication says it conducted the survey in part because of the impending JOBS (Jumpstart Our Business Startups) Act, which will allow hedge fund to advertise has “the potential to thrust certain funds further into the public eye,” according to Absolute Return.