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Saturday, 25 May 2024 11:38

Opportunities Amid the Energy Transition

The world is slowly transitioning to renewable energy. For institutional investors, this transition is likely to bring many investment opportunities. Of course, this will be a slow process that will take place over decades.  

The first step is the displacement of coal by natural gas, which is cleaner in terms of emissions and has already begun in many parts of the world, including the US. Another essential step is investing in various clean energy segments such as batteries, transmission and distribution, utilities, and renewable generation equipment. 

Many countries are recognizing energy security as a national security concern, which is also leading to supportive policies and capital flows. Countries are investing in electrification and local manufacturing in key areas like semiconductors, energy production, and storage. 

As the world moves toward net-zero emissions by 2050, companies in many parts of the economy will have to invest in decarbonization efforts. Morningstar sees opportunities for investors who understand the transition’s impact on the economy and various industries.

Capital expenditure for clean energy is expected to reach between $4 trillion and $5 trillion per year by the end of the decade. However, due to the transition taking place over a multi-decade period, investors should also have sufficient patience, anticipate volatility, and manage risk throughout the cycle. 


Finsum: We are in the early stages of a transition from fossil fuels to renewable energy. There will be plenty of opportunities for investors to earn healthy returns, given the size and scale of the trend.

In a blog post, Bill St. Louis, FINRA’s head of enforcement, said that more Reg BI cases are ‘in the pipeline’ and that ‘disciplinary actions have been increasing’. He added that these cases in the pipeline involve Form CSR, excessive trading, complex products, and variable annuities. 

Two recent enforcement actions involved the use of social media influencers for customer acquisition. FINRA fined Cobra Trading $200,000 for paying social media influencers with larger followings to promote the firm. According to the agency, these promotional posts made false claims and were not fair or balanced. Similarly, M1 Finance was fined $850,000 for social media posts made by influencers on the firm’s behalf that violated FINRA’s guidelines. 

Given that a growing share of the public now gets news and information about investments from social media, the agency is conducting regular sweeps. Firms are also required to conduct a consolidated audit trail. According to St. Louis, most firms are in compliance with these reporting obligations, but some audit cases are also in the pipeline. 

Finsum: FINRA is stepping up enforcement of Reg Bi. Two recent enforcement actions were due to firms improperly using social media for promotion.  

When selecting the best wineries to visit, the environment can play as crucial of a role as the wine itself. With over 400 wineries in Napa and Sonoma counties, up from just 25 in Napa during the 1970s, the region has seen a surge in tourism driven by Michelin-starred restaurants, luxurious accommodations, and unique wine experiences.


This intense competition has forced Napa Valley wineries to boost their offerings beyond standard tastings with luxurious experiences like sensory garden tours and private dining with Michelin-starred chefs. 


  1. Stags' Leap Winery, the Napa landmark that was established in 1883, helped create the iconic AVA. The 240-acre estate offers extensive tours and features an Apothecary and Sensory Garden along with a Kitchen Garden, providing a rich historical experience.


  1. Beaulieu Vineyard, renowned for its Georges de Latour Private Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon, offers experiences celebrating its nearly 120-year history, including the Cabernet Collector tasting and the Georges de Latour Legacy Experience, all set against stunning valley views.


  1. Cakebread Cellars, family-owned since the 1970s, is a premier destination for both wine and culinary enthusiasts. Visitors can enjoy farm-to-table cuisine, cooking classes, and strolls through the estate’s culinary garden, with various seated tastings and tours to choose from.

Finsum: The serene views at these Wineries provided a much-needed respite for RIAs looking for a chance to decompress.

Saturday, 25 May 2024 11:33

Robust Growth Outlook for Private Credit

According to panelists at the SALT conference, private credit will continue to experience strong growth over the next few years. Additionally, they believe that reports of banks stepping in to more aggressively compete with private credit lenders are overblown. Instead, there’s more likely to be partnerships between private credit investors and banks in terms of originating deals and arranging terms.

Michael Arougheti, the co-founder and CEO of Ares Management, sees private credit compounding at an annual rate of 15% for the next decade. He sees growth driven by cyclical and secular factors such as companies staying private for longer, the current high-rate environment, and many ‘good’ borrowers with weak balance sheets. Another factor is the billions being raised for private credit funds across Wall Street. 

Panelists also agreed that there are many selective opportunities in fixed income and credit at the moment. And more opportunities should emerge over the next year, especially with rates staying higher for longer. Arougheti believes that there will be more opportunities created by the lack of liquidity. This underscores another difference between the current environment and past cycles for distressed debt - weakness is not sector-specific, rather, it’s more rate-induced. 

Finsum: At the SALT conference, panelists agreed that despite headlines, private credit markets will see strong growth over the next few years. They also see more attractive opportunities emerging given high rates and limited liquidity. 

Entering 2024, the consensus was that the Federal Reserve would be cutting rates in the back half of the year in response to falling inflation and a slowing economy. This has major implications for private real estate, given that trillions of dollars in loans are maturing over the next couple of years. 

Yet, economic data and inflation have been more resilient than expected. Now, rate cut odds have narrowed, while there is some chatter that the Fed may have to tighten further. Currently, the Fed continues to signal that its next move is to cut rates, albeit later and to a lesser extent than previously thought. 

Still, this is likely to be uncomfortable for many borrowers, as many are holding onto properties based on the belief that rates will be lower, leading to more favorable selling or refinancing conditions. This is especially the case for those exposed to floating-rate debt. 

According to Richard Mack, the CEO and co-founder of Mack Real Estate Group, “People are paying to hold assets, but unless rents rise quickly, eventually asset prices will have to adjust to rates instead of hoping and anticipating rate decreases. In essence, you have to pay to wait and see what kind of recovery transpires, which is different from past cycles where interim cash flow paid you to wait for appreciation.” 

Finsum: Many were confident that conditions for real estate would improve as the Fed eased policy in the second half of the year. Now, many borrowers are likely to face increased stress as rate-cut expectations have been scaled back.

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