Alternatives

The IMF estimates that the private credit industry is now over $2 trillion in size, with 75% of it located in the US. It now rivals the leveraged loan and high-yield credit markets in size. Private credit offers borrowers more speed and flexibility and provides higher returns and less volatility to investors. 

While the advantages are clear, the IMF warns that as lending moves away from regulated financial institutions to private markets, systemic risks will increase. With private credit, there is less transparency, price discovery, and information about credit quality. Additionally, there is less information about how various players in the ecosystem are connected. Therefore, the IMF doesn’t see near-term risks but believes that as private credit keeps growing, there will be a need for greater regulation. 

On average, private credit borrowers tend to be smaller and have weaker balance sheets than companies raising money through syndicated loans or public markets. This means more downside risk in the event of rising rates or a negative economic shock. 

Currently, the IMF estimates that ⅓ of private credit borrowers’ financing costs are higher than earnings. It also warns that lending standards have weakened amid increased competition among lenders due to the influx of capital in the sector. 


Finsum: The private credit industry has experienced rapid growth over the last few years and now rivals the size of the high-yield credit and leveraged loan markets. Here’s why the IMF is concerned that continued growth could lead to systemic risks to financial stability.

Grayscale has been a pioneer in terms of bringing crypto investments to a wider group of investors with the launch of Grayscale Bitcoin Trust (GBTC) in 2016. For some time, it was the primary vehicle to get exposure to the asset through traditional means. However, the SEC’s approval of bitcoin ETFs means that the landscape is more competitive, with offerings from leading asset managers at lower costs. 

Now, Grayscale is launching a spinoff version of GBTC, which will have a much lower fee of 0.15% vs. 1.5% for GBTC. The new ETF, Grayscale Bitcoin Mini Trust (BTC), will have the lowest fee among all spot bitcoin ETFs. At launch, about 10% of GBTC’s assets will be moved to BTC, which means GBTC shareholders can convert holdings into BTC without having to pay capital gains taxes. 

With the launch of several spot bitcoin ETFs, there were net outflows from GBTC despite bitcoin’s impressive gains over the past few months. Previously, gains in bitcoin would coincide with a surge in inflows into GBTC. 

The success of new bitcoin ETFs from Blackrock, Fidelity, Bitwise, and Ark also shows that there is strong demand for low-cost ETFs in the crypto space. In contrast, GBTC was structured more like a mutual fund. 


Finsum: Grayscale is launching a spinoff version of its Grayscale Bitcoin Trust (GBTC), which will come with significantly lower costs as the asset manager looks to compete with the launch of several bitcoin ETFs.

The prospect of integrating alternatives can be daunting for many advisors due to the complexities involved, including numerous strategies, managers, and differing operational and tax processes. Nonetheless, there are key considerations for advisors navigating this terrain such as understanding that not all alternatives are alike, categorized broadly into growth, income, and diversifiers, allows for tailored allocations to meet client objectives. Also accessibility to alternatives has increased substantially, with platforms like iCapital and CAIS democratizing access and simplifying investment processes.

 

Additionally, the inadequacy of the traditional 60/40 model has led advisors to seek non-correlated strategies to bolster portfolio resilience, particularly during market dislocations. Historical analysis indicates that adding a 20% allocation to alternatives in a 60/40 portfolio can enhance returns and lower volatility, supporting the case for inclusion.

 

Shifting perspectives on longevity and retirement planning diminish the importance of liquidity, making less liquid investment opportunities, like private equity, viable options for younger investors. Overall, as accessibility to alternatives grows and traditional strategies face challenges, advisors are primed to deliver superior performance and resilience to clients through diversified portfolios.


Finsum: Advisors have more options and opportunities in the alt space than ever and should pass those uncorrelated returns on to investors.

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