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Monday, 08 April 2024 05:01

Private Credit is Missing Alpha

A recent study indicates that private credit investments fail to yield significant additional returns once fees are factored in. Despite the allure of higher potential returns, the study suggests that the added expenses associated with private credit largely offset any potential gains. 


Researchers found that private credit funds typically charge higher fees compared to traditional fixed-income investments, which could erode investors' returns over time. This revelation challenges the notion that private credit offers superior returns, urging investors to carefully assess the costs involved before committing capital. 


The study underscores the importance of transparency and due diligence in evaluating investment opportunities, particularly in alternative asset classes like private credit. Consequently, investors are advised to weigh the potential benefits against the associated costs to make informed decisions in their portfolios.

Finsum: Alpha can be sucked up by fees but the real draw of private credit would be the uncorrelated returns.

Every day, 12,000 individuals from the baby boomer generation in the US turn 65, and by 2030, all baby boomers will have reached this age milestone. This demographic shift has led to a change in investment priorities, with baby boomers now seeking more protection-oriented financial products, such as annuities. Annuities offering downside protection and guaranteed returns have gained popularity over those promising high growth potential.


In 2023, the annuity market in the US saw record-high sales of $385 billion, largely driven by the demand for products with downside protection features. Fixed annuities and fixed index annuities, accounting for 67% of total annuity sales, have become the preferred choice, reflecting a significant shift from previous years. These annuities align with the risk preferences of baby boomers, offering market-linked returns while shielding investments from market volatility.


Fixed index annuities, in particular, provide an attractive option for retirees seeking stable income streams, combining potential market returns with downside protection. However, they come with limitations, including capped returns and surrender periods, necessitating careful consideration before incorporation into retirement plans.

Finsum: Demographic shifts have already had a major long-term impact on bonds, and now retirement concerns are shifting the landscape once again. 

Monday, 08 April 2024 04:57

Bond Market Shifting toward SMAs

Investors with over $250,000 are increasingly turning to separately managed accounts, allowing them to handpick municipal bonds with professional guidance. These accounts now hold $987 billion in assets, surpassing mutual funds, which hold about $769.7 billion.


This shift has significantly boosted business, with Franklin Templeton seeing a 50% increase in assets under management over the past year and a half. Lowering the minimum investment to $250,000 has made these accounts more accessible, though still beyond the reach of most Americans. 


However, advancements in technology are driving further accessibility, with potential for minimums to drop to $100,000 in the near future. With artificial intelligence breaking down barriers by making management for portfolio quicker to digest the minimums are bound to fall. 

Finsum: The SMA explosion is here to stay in the fixed income market and managers should watch the evolution. 


Monday, 08 April 2024 04:56

What’s Next for Direct Indexing

Over the last year, there has been an increase in the accessibility and availability of direct indexing solutions. Still, the category continues to be dominated by high net worth or ultra high net worth investors. According to Anton Honikman, the CEO of MyVest, there is about $400 billion managed by direct indexing strategies. He anticipates that the next stage of growth for direct indexing will depend on younger and less affluent investors. 

Initially, the primary advantage of direct indexing was that it allowed investors to extract tax alpha. He forecasts that as direct indexing becomes democratized over the next few years, providers and advisors will have to make some adjustments.

He notes that custodians will have to offer fractional share support for the technology to work for smaller investors, as implemented by Schwab and Fidelity, which now offer direct indexing to investors with lower minimums. 

Typically, there is some premium involved with direct indexing over investing in low-cost ETFs. Given the increase in ETF options over the last couple of years, he believes that it marginally erodes the use case of direct indexing for many investors. Over the longer term, he sees the direct indexing premium compressing in order to remain viable vs. a portfolio of low-cost, targeted ETFs. Further, he believes that the next wave of direct indexing will be driven by younger investors who want to align their portfolios with their values rather than optimize their tax situation. 

Finsum: At one time, direct indexing was only available to high or ultra high net worth investors. As it becomes democratized, here are some considerations for providers and advisors. 

Monday, 08 April 2024 04:54

SMA Insights for Advisors and Clients

Separately managed accounts (SMAs) are ascending in wealth management as they enable advisors to offer clients nearly unlimited options for customization and can lead to more efficient tax management. 

Another feature of SMAs is better economics in terms of aligning goals and incentives between both parties, especially compared to other structures. With SMAs, management fees are based on capital that is deployed rather than committed, which leads to better deal flow and attention from managers. There is also more ability to negotiate fees to incentivize long-term performance and foster more durable relationships. Further, SMAs can be set up to optimize the tax situation of individual clients.   

Overall, SMAs are gaining traction due to more flexibility and choice, which can lead to better outcomes in terms of performance and governance. The SMA agreement can also be adjusted if necessary, rather than having to create an entire new vehicle. 

For investors, SMAs also offer more protection and oversight beyond simply aligning incentives between investors and managers. More active and involved investors may prefer a non-discretionary SMA in which the investor approves each investment before capital is deployed. Additionally, investors get input into matters such as distributions, valuation, expenses, and reporting. 

Finsum: SMAs are rapidly gaining traction. Here are some of the advantages they offer investors and advisors.  

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