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The bigger allocators exiting the hedge fund space will soon return - Opalesque Investor Roundtable

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In the alternative investment industry the rules are constantly changing. We continue to see successful managers, but we also see a lot of managers who used to be successful and who are struggling right now to deliver alpha and raise assets, or even shutting down their funds. They point to increasing regulation, fee pressure, operational requirements, along with challenging global markets, all of which have combined to put extreme pressure on performance. However, not all investors see hedge funds going under.

Peter Tarrant from BTIG, whose firm regularly talks with about 1,300 investors globally, believes that the bigger allocators who are exiting the hedge fund space will soon return, and that the demand for alternative investments in three to five years will be twice what it is today. Consultants such as Cliffwater say that the current environment is exactly one where you actually would want hedge funds in your portfolio.

Different roles and return profiles of emerging and mega funds

Steve Simmons, Head of Alternative Investments at Sideris Capital Partners, a family office focusing on emerging managers which has in fact never allocated to a fund in excess of $75mm AUM, says that most critical observers base their opinions on the performance of the largest managers. However, the performance of those household name funds is not representative of the range of sizes, strategies, and opportunities in the global market.

Simmons describes how he is playing in an extremely different sandbox, which is a universe of smaller managers that are usually overlooked by most allocators and industry media. Investing in emerging managers requires a high skill-set and due diligence, but in his experience they also tend to outperform by roughly 200 plus basis points in the first two to three years. At the same time, the institutionalization of large firms has undisputedly been a natural evolution in this industry. Maybe these multi-billion dollar hedge funds won’t be making “superior returns” anymore, but they still serve a valuable role in the portfolios of the big institutions.

Investors clearly prefer lower fees, but that preference could be short-sighted

Managers are now forced to spend more time and energy than they ever have before on operational due diligence and regulatory filings which do not contribute to the research of how to generate alpha. When you couple that reality with increased fee pressures, it makes it very hard for management to seek and to hire the next great trader or analyst, and so a question we should ask as an industry is, “Will downward fees cause great talent to not enter the industry currently or in the future, thereby jeopardizing great ideas and innovation that create alpha?”

Meanwhile, the teams at all of the large, high profile launches all started out hiring a superstar Chief Operating Officer, Chief Financial Officer, and dedicated marketer at the outset. They understand the value of the investment in building out a strong supporting team. If you look at the top 20 big launches over the last two years, they all have large staffs that are ready to roll and have infrastructure in place from day one. Also smaller emerging managers realize they must have a COO and CFO. However, it is now perfectly acceptable to use the outsourced model to perform those functions. Until they reach approximately $60 million in AUM, a manager can outsource the CFO, COO, or CCO functions. Because of these support functions the industry is now providing to emerging managers, this space today is in a much better position compared to five years ago.

The 2016 Opalesque Investor Roundtable, sponsored by Arthur Bell, united the following experts:

  1. Chris Solarz, Managing Director, Cliffwater
  2. Corey McLaughlin, Managing Member, Arthur Bell
  3. Larry Morgenthal, Managing Member, Soundlink Partners
  4. Peter Tarrant, Head of Capital Introduction, BTIG
  5. Rob Kaplan, Senior Managing Director, EnTrustPermal
  6. Steve Simmons, Head of Alternative Investments, Sideris Capital Partners
The group also discussed:
  • What has been the success recipe for the large, high profile launches over the last two years?
  • What’s the best advice for start up hedge fund managers?
  • A neglected responsibility: The issue of succession
  • What are the most common errors of managers when launching?
  • How is the popularity of quantitative funds shaping the industry?
  • What are some of the new creative fee models?
  • What type of funds and managers are investors searching right now? In which sectors do they see opportunities?
  • Which red flags are investors looking for?
  • What do investors suggest to managers to do a better job?
  • What is the common trap most investors fall into, missing out to invest in promising early stage managers?
  • What’s the best way for an investor to review a pitch book?
Enjoy!

Matthias Knab
Knab@Opalesque.com

Access the Opalesque Roundtable Series - 2016 Investor Roundtable | Download here

The Opalesque Roundtable Series offers unparalleled intelligence on the most important global hedge fund jurisdictions and their players. The Roundtable Series is a free publication from Opalesque and is continually updated. Please scroll down to view the full selection of our Roundtables - covering the globe!

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User comments

good read Marc Goodman |   October 18, 2016 01:55:41 PM
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