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Opalesque Zurich Roundtable: The Hazard of the Uneducated Client

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Today most investors perform a thorough legal and organizational due diligence before investing into a hedge fund or CTA. However, some managers believe that it is to a certain extent the duty of the manager to make sure that a very proper strategy due diligence is performed on top of those, because it can totally backfire on them if this is not done. If you mis-sell your fund to a client, that client will run away when performance is bad.

“I remember a number of years ago we had a big client from overseas coming in, and their first on-site strategy due diligence was done with three people for eight hours. Again, that was only about the strategy. This has now become more common that you get these team sizes, and they spend the day in your office just talking about your investment strategy. Those meetings are of course no pitch meetings but take place when it's more or less clear that they are probably going to invest with you. So it just shows you the level of comfort that bigger clients want to get and I think should get with the strategy before they actually make the allocation. Because it ensures that if they invest, it’s a fully educated decision”, says Karsten Schroeder from Amplitude Capital.

Schroeder believes it is as important for a fund manager to select the client as it is for a client to select the manager. Selecting their investors and making sure a proper strategy due diligence was performed has very positively contributed to Amplitude’s growth and stability: “We had no net outflows in any year since we have been around. Every year we had a new peak AUM. This is not because our returns were so incredibly amazing, I have to give the vast majority of the credit to our client base for staying with us and for having or developing that good understanding of what’s going on in our fund and in the markets.”

Manager Selection: Are smaller investors doomed to make inferior calls?

Looking at how these institutions make a proper investment decision and spend probably a quarter of a million dollars on due diligence cost, the question is really how can smaller investors get close to that type of decision making? That poses an extremely high challenge to them, because in the end they will never get the transparency and the level of information. In most cases they simply do not have the resources. Instead, they tend to be backward looking and pay a lot of attention on past track records, and that means they are chasing returns. So by definition, they will make inferior calls.

That is the spot where an intermediary can step in and add value, or a very well-managed fund of funds or a really good private banking solution. They should be able to do this job almost at the level how a large pension fund would do it, and then offer a tailor-made solution to clients. “Unfortunately, there are very few that do that successfully. So I really think that here is some real demand coming through, because you cannot just tell your high net-worths or ultra high net-worths, ‘this is the list of funds we have on our platform, and that is their performance, what do you want to pick?’ I mean, such a ‘model’ is really off the mark, it's just inconceivable you can successfully invest in that way”, Schroeder concludes.

“Huge demand”: New models for emerging managers

The current environment has raised the bar and created extreme barriers to entry for smaller and emerging managers wanting to set up shop and launch new funds and strategies. But the industry is coming up with innovative platform solutions like the “House of Funds” from Swiss Hedge Capital where talents or existing funds can start or expand their business under their regulated structure. Not only will Swiss Hedge Capital offer the usage of their legal and operational infrastructure to launch new funds, but they also open up their whole investor base for the onboarding manager. This “sharing a platform” solution is seen as a win-win for the fund manager, as he becomes regulated in a timely and efficient manner with an institutional-quality infrastructure and plenty of support, and for Swiss Hedge who can efficiently diversify their business.

The Opalesque 2015 Zurich Roundtable, sponsored by Eurex and IDS, took place end of 2014 in the office of Eurex Zurich with:

  1. Patrick Burger, Partner & Deputy CIO, Swiss Hedge Capital
  2. Karim Atallah, Head of Prime Services for Switzerland, Credit Suisse
  3. Karsten Schroeder, CEO, Amplitude Capital
  4. Matthias Lindenmayer, Head of Sales and Marketing, Rasini Fairway Capital
  5. Nils Beitlich, Head Hedge Fund Strategy, UBS Wealth Management
  6. Christophe Kuenzler, Director, Capital Introductions, Credit Suisse
  7. Markus-Alexander Flesch, Head Sales and Marketing, Eurex Zurich
  8. Ian Hamilton, CEO, Investment Data Service Group (IDS)
The group also discussed:
  • Over the last two years, a remarkable number of very high caliber, very talented CIOs have decided to set up alternative investment management company in Switzerland. What benefits and challenges do they face?
  • Why hedge funds and alternative investments are not a boutique style industry anymore
  • Amnesia: As 2008 seems like a lifetime ago, short-term-memoried investors are loading up heavy beta strategies again. How will it end?
  • Rasini Fairway announces dedicated seeding vehicle: A fund of emerging managers
  • Why the regulatory vacuum between FINMA and EMIR for different significant timelines results in a clear discrimination of some Swiss players
  • Are emerging managers really well advised to set up shop in a costly “standard location” like Mayfair?
  • How to create smart and fair fee arrangements
  • Hedge fund replication and risk premie: mechanical replication strategies in demand
  • How can global players benefit from the new Eurex Clearing House in Asia (ECAL)?
  • Why the rise of UCITS is even outdone by managed accounts

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