Opalesque Industry Update – Three veteran investment professionals have teamed up to form Witherspoon Asset Management LLC, a Princeton-based investment adviser. Witherspoon’s principals are Lee Gladden as CEO, Thomas Kuntz, CFA as Chief Operating Officer, and Tyler Vernon as Managing Director. Both Gladden and Kuntz share a background from Commodities Corporation. |
Witherspoon’s first offering is the Witherspoon Managed Futures Strategy Fund (ticker: CTAAX, CTAIX). The fund is designed for investors seeking non-correlated investments that also provide transparency and daily liquidity.
The firm’s strategic approach to managed futures provides an alternative to funds already in the ’40 Act space. Witherspoon focuses on finding tactical specialists who may add alpha, offer unique niche trading skills, and have low correlation to each other. Most importantly, Witherspoon searches for discretionary Commodity Trading Advisors (CTAs) who have demonstrated the ability to navigate the futures markets in a manner that minimizes volatility yet successfully delivers alpha. The fund provides a multi-advisor portfolio with a tactical weighting of 75 percent to these discretionary and tactical specialists, and a 25 percent weighting towards systematic trend followers.
Witherspoon’s new fund is now available to registered investment advisors and retail investors through several major platforms.
The fund’s initial investor, Brinker Capital, Inc. likes the method employed by the Witherspoon Managed Futures Strategy Fund. Bill Miller, CIO of Brinker Capital, Inc., explains. “We believe that the Witherspoon Fund is taking the right approach to managed futures. The Commodities Corporation history and strategy embodied in it means a lot to us. We think the new fund is well positioned to meet its investment objectives.” Brinker Capital, Inc. is a leading independent RIA with $13 billion in assets as of December 2012.
Witherspoon CEO Gladden agrees with Miller’s assessment: “The most obvious differentiation in our portfolio comes from the low correlations among our CTAs. Because they are using different strategies in different markets, they give us the potential for more consistent performance under most market conditions. Even in the past few years, with choppy markets and the volatility caused by what has been characterized as “risk on, risk off” behavior, most of the managers in our fund have been profitable and have maintained a low correlation to each other.” However, past performance does not guarantee future results.
Witherspoon has additional managed futures expertise at hand with their Advisory Board, comprising F. Helmut Weymar, one of the founders and former Chairman and CEO of Commodities Corporation, M. Roch Hillenbrand, former President of Commodities Corporation (and later of Goldman Sachs Hedge Fund Strategies Group, which bought Commodities Corporation in 1997), and Scott Sipprelle, former Managing Director at Morgan Stanley and an active investor in the alternatives space.
Hillenbrand states: “I am encouraged to see the portfolio strategy that we employed successfully for so many years at Commodities Corporation can now be implemented in a mutual fund format. This structure provides individual investors with access to a truly diversified portfolio of CTAs with daily liquidity and the convenience of a mutual fund.”