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Roundtable: A world-class city in alternative investments excels with cooperative seeding approach

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This Roundtable is also available in FRENCH. Please follow the download link below.

Montréal is definitely a world-class city in the alternative investment space, for a number of reasons. For one, you can find some excellent universities here: McGill University, Concordia, HEC Montréal, and Université de Montréal. Second: the Montréal Exchange has launched equity options in 1975, right after CBOE launched the first options in the US. Like in Chicago, this derivatives exchange created a lot of talent in terms of trading, operations, regulations, and market know-how. The third reason, and this is another very special feature of Montréal, is the quality of the institutional investing space. Some of the finest pension funds that invest in alternatives are in Montréal and have world-class respect; Caisse de depot, PSP, Bimcor, CN and Air Canada. There are also some very sophisticated family offices in Montréal.

One of the highest densities of CFAs and Masters in Finance per capita in the world

Canadian banks have a strong presence in Montréal, along with some well established investment firms, and consulting firms. One can find some talented hedge fund managers, emerging managers, and private prop traders. All of this creates a very rich ecosystem for the finance community in Montréal. Besides, this city just short of 2m inhabitants offers one of the highest densities of CFAs and Masters in Finance per capita in the world. The resulting pool of knowledge and expertise that can be drawn upon by investment managers, be them traditional or alternative, is impressive and quite attractive.

Montréal’s Emerging Managers’ Board and the PGEQ (investors’) win-win strategy

The Montréal based Emerging Managers’ Board (EMB) is a non-profit organization whose mission is to promote and contribute to the growth of Canadian emerging managers. It strives to educate asset allocators and investors about the benefits of investing with local talent and encourages family offices and institutions to invest an additional 1.5bn$ with local emerging managers by 2016. The long term goals is to get the largest pension funds in Québec to invest 1% of their AUM (so around C$3bn) with local emerging managers.

On the investor side, institutions have joined forces in an initiative called PGEQ (Programme des Gestionnaires en Emergence du Québec). The PGEQ is a Fund of Fund of Québec emerging managers in long-only and alternative investments. The PGEQ is also seeding emerging managers with up to C$50m. Its investment committee is formed with financial community members such as consultants or people that sit on pension funds investment committees that volunteer for the organization.

To qualify for an investment, each manager goes through a four step process. A manager’s strategy presentation and track record gets vetted by a panel comprised of pension plans, emerged money managers and consultants. First these people vet a short questionnaire discussing the firm and strategy in broad terms, then a long questionnaire, which is similar to a full due diligence questionnaire. Later there is an on-site vetting process, and finally you will be facing a selection committee. If a manager goes through the four stages, he will get seeded.

This Opalesque Roundtable took place May 2016 in Montréal with:

  1. Thai An Le, CAIA, Senior Manager, Castle Hall Alternatives
  2. Marc Amirault, CFA, Founder & CIO, Crystalline Management
  3. Brian Gelfand, Chief Regulatory Officer, TMX | Montréal Exchange
  4. Pierre-Philippe Ste-Marie, Founder & CEO, Razorbill Advisors
  5. Ranjan Bhaduri, PhD CFA CAIA MBA, Chief Research Officer, Sigma Analysis & Management
  6. Ben Djerroud, PhD, Sr. Director, Portfolio Analytics & Management, Sigma Analysis & Management
The group also discussed:
  • Empirical evidence has shown that many smaller emerging managers outperform larger ones. However, investing in smaller managers can also carry bigger risks. How does the PGEQ address the key challenge to provide the necessary credibility and the level comfort needed to convince (especially the smaller) allocators’ investment committees to participate in this seeding/investment program?
  • Evolution: What is “Due Diligence 1.0 / 2.0 / 3.0”?
  • How hedge funds have come to set the benchmark: Which types of practices that have become standard within the hedge fund industry are now being taken up by other type of asset managers (e.g. real estate, PE, VC fund managers)?
  • Why more and more hedge fund service providers evolve to be true FinTech firms
  • How new forms of benchmarking can mean trouble for a fund manager
  • The value add of an investor-owned managed account platform solution. How managed accounts can help managers pass due diligence.
  • How their managed account platform “solved” the financial crisis for Sigma Analysis
  • Cyber security policies and changes in assets liquidity distribution
  • Why Canada’s regulatory environment is a forte for alternative investment managers
  • Making money with arbitrage: Cristalline’s annualizes 8.5% net since 1998 inception
Available also in FRENCH, click here to download the PDF: www.opalesque.com/index.php?act=archiveRT&and=download_RT5&pdf=1

Enjoy!

Matthias Knab
Knab@Opalesque.com

Access the Opalesque Roundtable Series - Montreal | Download here
Access the Opalesque Roundtable Series - Montreal (French version) | Download here

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