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Diamond Consultants recently completed the 2023 version of its Advisor Transition Report to identify the most important trends in financial advisor recruiting. Overall, recruiting was up 7.5% compared to 2022 which was unexpected given several headwinds. Many advisors who switched reported being more focused on the long-term to find the best place to maximize the value of their practice on a 5 to 20 year horizon.


Another interesting finding is that each channel seems to have a big winner. LPL enjoyed the most success from independent firms, while Morgan Stanley was the winner from traditional wirehouses. Boutique and regional firms like Rockefeller, RBC, or Raymond James also notched some major wins as they offer many of the resources of the large wirehouses without the bureaucracy. 

One catalyst for the increase in recruiting activity has been the expected involvement of private equity bidders. Yet, this hasn’t materialized in terms of PE-backed RIAs poaching talent from legacy players. One factor is that PE offers come with some caveats that make it less appealing to advisors. 

Finally, the lure of the independent channel seems to be fading despite the number of options increasing. This is likely due to traditional firms offering more generous compensation packages while the initial cohort of recruitees who wanted an independent channel have already moved firms. 


Finsum: Diamond Consultants put together its 2023 report on advisor transitions. Major takeaways are that recruiting remained strong despite some major headwinds and that PE buyers haven’t been successful in luring advisors. 

Friday, 15 March 2024 04:08

Gasoline Prices Expected to Rise

Lower energy prices have provided some relief for consumers over the last few months. However, this could be changing with demand set to increase as we enter the start of driving season which is due to be exacerbated by refinery outages in many parts of the country.


Over the last month, gasoline prices are about 5% higher but still slightly down relative to last year at this point. Higher energy prices negatively impact consumer confidence and discretionary spending but also feed into inflationary pressures. In last month’s CPI report, higher energy prices was a major factor in the hotter than expected readings. Additionally, they have political implications given elections in November.


According to analysts, the situation is likely to get worse before its gets better. Gasoline inventories are lower than normal, following a 5.7 million barrels decline last week, and are now 3% below their average levels for this time of the year. Inventories could continue to be drained as refineries have been running below 87% capacity for the last 8 weeks. Adding to these issues is recent drone strikes on Russian refineries by Ukraine.

Finsum: Gasoline prices have been rising due to refinery issues. The situation is likely to get worse before it gets better as we enter summer driving season, and inventories have been drawn down more than expected. 

Friday, 15 March 2024 04:07

Is Private Credit Losing Steam?

In 2023, private credit funds managed $550 billion in assets and generated 12% in average returns for investors. Private credit has been ascendant the last couple of years and helped private equity firms find a new source of revenue. 


As public market financing become less available, direct lenders extended credit to small businesses and buyout deals, replacing syndicated loans and the high yield bond market. It resulted in private credit growing from less than $100 billion in 2013 to its current size.


This year, investment banks are once again stepping into the fray. So far, $8.3 billion of private market debt has been refinanced via syndicated loans, indicating that the high yield bond market in the US is once again a viable option for companies. In leveraged buyouts, banks are also competing as evidenced by JPMorgan’s financing of KKR’s purchase of Cotiviti, a healthcare tech company.


Spreads for syndicated loans and high yield bonds have dropped to thier lowest levles in 3 years. Rates are now between 200 and 300 basis points below what private credit lenders were offering in December. 


Private equity firms are expected to pivot into higher quality, asset-backed financing such as credit card debt and accounts receivables to replace revenue from private credit. They would also benefit from an improvement in public market sentiment and liquidity as they are sitting on a backlog of unsold investments in portfolio companies. 

Finsum: The private credit market has boomed over the last couple of years due to anemic public markets and hesitant banks. Now, banks are once again competing for business and offering more favorable terms.


Natixis conducted a survey of 500 investment professionals, managing a combined $35 trillion in assets. The survey showed that investors are adjusting their allocations in expectations of more volatility in 2024 due to more challenging macroeconomic conditions. 


A major change in the survey is increasing preference towards active strategies as 58% noted that active outperformed passive for them in 2023, and 63% believe active will outperform this year. Overall, 75% of professionals believe that being active will help in identifying alpha in the new year. 


In terms of fixed income, 62% see outperformance in long-duration bonds, although only 25% have actually increased exposure due to uncertainty about the Fed. In addition to increasing duration, many are interested in increasing quality with 44% looking to increase exposure to investment-grade corporate debt and US Treasuries. 


Money continues to flow to alternatives with 66% believing that there will be significant delta between private and public market returns. Within the asset class, fund selectors are most bullish on private equity and private debt at 55%. 


With regards to model portfolios, 85% of firms now offer them either in-house or through third-party firms. Due to increasing demand, the number of offerings are expected to increase. Benefits include additional diligence and increased odds of client retention during periods of uncertainty. They also help form deeper relationships with more trust between advisors and clients, leading to more of a relationship focused on comprehensive, financial planning. 

Finsum: Natixis conducted a survey of 500 investment professionals and found that model portfolios are increasingly popular. Another major theme is that volatility is expected to remain elevated in 2024 due to uncertainty about the economy and Fed policy. 


Friday, 15 March 2024 04:04

Bonds Weaken Following February CPI Data

Bond yields modestly rose following the February consumer price index (CPI) report which came in slightly hotter than expected. Overall, it confirms the status quo of the Fed continuing to hold rates ‘higher for longer’. Yields on the 10-year Treasury rose by 5.1 basis points to close at 4.16%, while the 2-Year note yield was up 5 basis points to close at 4.58%. 


The report showed that the CPI rose by 0.4% on a monthly basis and 3.2% annually. Economists were looking for a 0.4% monthly increase and 3.1% annual. While the headline figure was mostly in-line with expectations, Core CPI was hotter than expected at 3.8% vs 3.6% and 0.4% vs 0.3%. The largest contributors were energy which was up 2.6% and shelter at 0.4% which comprised 60% of the gain.


Based on recent comments by Chair Powell and other FOMC members, the Fed is unlikely to begin cutting unless inflation resumes dropping or there are signs of the labor market starting to crack. Current probabilities indicate that the Federal Reserve is likely to hold rates steady at the upcoming FOMC meeting, especially with no major economic data expected that could shift their thinking. 


Finsum: The February jobs report resulted in a slight rally for bonds as it increased the odds of a rate cut in June. Most strength was concentrated on the short-end of the curve.


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