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Talent level and strategy diversity remain as high as ever in Connecticut hedge funds, but managers wary of tax, overregulation

 

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Connecticut, often referred to as the “Silicon Valley of Hedge Funds,” remains one of the leading hedge fund centers in the world.  Lifestyle benefits give Connecticut advantages over New York and other metropolitan areas, while local managers still have access to talented, experienced market professionals, and benefit form the flow of investors in and out of the metro area.

The 2016 Opalesque Connecticut Roundtable exhibits the historical prevalence of talented managers residing in the region, and also the emergence of specialized new strategies that continue to populate the local hedge fund landscape.  It is this depth in the talent pool and variety of managers that make Connecticut such a hotbed for global investors in accessing reliable alternative investment managers.  This year’s Roundtable presents a deep dive and valuable insights into five unique strategies, and displays the depth of specialization and market expertise available in the region. These strategies include:

Catastrophe Risk Investing, accessing insurance-linked risks through catastrophe bonds and collateralized reinsurance contracts

Fixed Income Long-Short Strategy, trading liquid credit markets while operating through the lens of an equity perspective

Renewable Energy Long-Short Strategy, focusing on  Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG)

Small and Mid-Market Asset-Based Lending, providing capital to small and medium-sized businesses

The industry’s only dedicated REIT Activist Strategy, bringing an activist component to publicly traded real estate and real estate-related securities.

However, local industry veterans also warn about the adversary effects of current state tax structures, which have become burdensome for principals. The state of Connecticut should reconsider these structures, which were favorable in the 1990's and drove growth in the industry, but now would be forcing many managers to reconsider their geography. Although access to investors and intellectual capital are very attractive elements of the region, if operational costs remain too high, a lot of managers and a lot of wealth may leave the area.

Another industry concern the panelists discuss in depth is the overregulation of the alternative investment industry. Unintended regulatory-driven outcomes are numerous, including extremely high operational costs and barriers to entry for new managers. The suppression of a new generation of managers has a downside for investors, who often cannot get high levels of alpha from the largest fund managers, and cannot access this new generation because smaller managers are not able to stay in business, despite good returns.

The Opalesque 2016 Connecticut Roundtable, sponsored by Maples Fund Services and moderated by Opalesque’s Greg de Spoelberch, took place in Stamford, Connecticut, with:

  1. Brett Houghton, Managing Principal, Fermat Capital Management
  2. Craig Melcher, Co-Founder and Portfolio Manager, Land & Buildings Investment Management
  3. Jason Brandt,  Regional Head of Fund Services, Americas, Maples Fund Services
  4. Jeff Haas, COO, Old Hill Partners
  5. Mark Fishman, CIO, Aesir Capital Management
  6. Richard Rankin, COO, Managing Director, Ardsley Partners
The group also discussed:
  • What do investors look for in each of these unique strategies? (pages 8-10)
  • What are the specific capacities for these highly specialized strategies? (pages 24-26)
  • Bond market pitfalls: What an equity lens can tell you about market downgrades (page 11-12)
  • How to best short fixed income securities (pages 12-13)
  • How does a REIT Activist Strategy unlock value? (pages 13-14)
  • Why catastrophe risk investing is a defensive positioning (page 9)
  • How capital in catastrophe risk grew from $1 billion of invested capital in the late 1990s to $70 billion today (page 23-24)
  • Why do insurance underwriters actually hope for losses occasionally? (page 17)
  • Why the big banks have exited from small and mid-market lending (pages 15-16)
  • With a high shutdown rate for emerging managers, what parameters do fund administrators gauge when onboarding clients? (page 23)
  • How service providers also needed to become huge “data warehouses” (page 19)
  • The unintended consequences of increased regulation in the alternative investment industry (pages 20-23).

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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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