Prime brokerage is the generic name for a bundled package of services offered by investment banks and securities firms to hedge funds and other professional investors needing the ability to borrow securities and cash to be able to invest on a netted basis and achieve an absolute return. The business advantage to a hedge fund of using a Prime Broker is that the Prime Broker provides a centralized securities clearing facility for the hedge fund, and the hedge fund's collateral requirements are netted across all deals handled by the Prime Broker.
Additional meaning of Prime Brokerage:
The Prime Broker benefits by earning fees ("spreads") on financing the client's long and short cash and security positions, and by charging, in some cases, fees for clearing and/or other services. It also earns money by hypothecating the portfolios of the hedge funds it services and charging a fee to those borrowing securities and other investments.