Displaying items by tag: volatility

Wednesday, 14 February 2024 03:31

The Next Trend in Alternative Investing

One consequence of the outperformance of alternative assets in recent years is increasing democratization of the asset class. According to BNY Mellon, this trend is being driven by the need for higher long-term returns given longer life expectancies. Many governments, around the world, are changing guidelines to increase access to these investment options. 


Increasing access to alternative investments also fits with many governments’ ESG objectives. In turn, alternative asset managers are also working to structure their products to appeal to a different market.


The bank also recommends considering offering alternatives in retirement plans. Until recently, investing in alternative assets like private equity, private real estate, and hedge funds were limited to institutional and ultra-high net-worth investors. 


In the past couple of years, alternative assets have delivered positive returns in an environment where both fixed income and equities have struggled amid a hawkish Federal Reserve and raging inflation. Ideally, the asset class would lead to more resilient portfolios by reducing volatility and delivering non-correlated returns. 


Some drawbacks are increased complexity, higher costs, and reduced liquidity. The bank also adds that investors need to be educated about alternative investments in order to fully understand these products and take advantage of their benefits. 

Finsum: BNY Mellon sees continued inflows into alternative assets due to strong performance in recent years. It sees increasing democratization of the space and potentially even the inclusion of alternative investments in retirement plans. 


Published in Wealth Management

Interest in alternative assets continues to grow. For many, it’s become a core part of their portfolio along with equities and bonds based on the theory that it can increase diversification, reduce risk, and deliver higher returns in high inflation scenarios. 


In response, asset managers are introducing new products at a fevered pace. Examples include bitcoin ETFs, private credit, and infrastructure funds. Advisors have the task of figuring out which of these products will help their clients and become a part of their allocations. 


Some important considerations are properly explained to clients that many alternative investments mean sacrificing liquidity for a multiyear period and are only justified if investors are willing to hold for the long term. Further, focusing on returns is not the right metric, instead these products are more about dampening portfolio volatility and providing a source of non-correlated returns. 


Therefore, the biggest impediment for more adoption of alternatives is education. Many might not have a deep understanding of these strategies and have varying risk tolerances. Advisors should consider allocations to alternatives on a case-by-case basis and also gradually increase exposure levels to gauge comfort levels. 

Finsum: There is an explosion of alternative investment options available to advisors. Here are some tips on how to navigate this expanding landscape.

Published in Wealth Management

Every industry changes and evolves with time. The financial advice industry is no different as advisors increasingly move towards focusing more on financial planning and serving clients with less emphasis on making investment decisions.


This is now being increasingly handled by asset managers and third parties. Currently, about 10% of advisors use home office model portfolios with minimal modifications. 36% of RIAs and independent broker-dealers are building their own allocations from scratch. Most advisors are taking a blended approach by using these models as a starting point and then offering some customization to suit a clients’ specific needs. 

For advisors, the shift makes sense especially as most clients seem to value planning more than performance. Further, it frees up time and energy that can be spent on client service and growing the business. According to Cerulli, advisors who build their own portfolios, spend about 30% of their time on the task. 


Another benefit for advisors is that it makes the business more scalable. For advisors who spend considerable time on portfolio management, there is more of a constraint to how many clients can be added. An interesting finding is that firms with large amounts of assets under management are more likely to use model portfolios. 

Finsum: Model portfolios are becoming increasingly popular, although most are currently using a blended approach. Here are some of the major benefits to advisors. 


Published in Wealth Management

Decisions made by model portfolio managers are showing that investors are starting to get cautious about valuations of megacap tech stocks. These stocks have been the biggest gainers this year in the stock market. Tech stocks with market caps above a trillion dollars are up more than 50% YTD, while the S&P 500 is up 19%. 2 major catalysts for this group have been the perception that rates have peaked and a frenzy for securities connected to artificial intelligence. 


Of course, many market-cap weighted or tech-focused indices will have outsized exposure to this group. According to Brooks Friederich of Envestnet, an intermediary which operates a platform that offers customized products from asset managers, “End-clients are saying ‘I want an investment product that isn’t going to have all this exposure to the big-tech stocks,’ If you look at retirement portfolios, they all have too much exposure to that because of the construction of the market.”


He also adds that balanced portfolios continue to have appeal and are a major reason for the boom in model portfolios given the ease of combining asset classes. More than half of the assets on its platform are linked to 60/40 or 70/30 portfolios despite the poor performance of fixed income as a hedge against equities last year.  

Finsum: Model portfolio end-clients are showing some concerns about the valuations of megacap tech stocks, while remaining committed to balanced portfolios despite recent volatility. 


Published in Wealth Management
Tuesday, 28 November 2023 02:58

Generating Yield With Model Portfolios

Kevin Flanagan, WisdomTree’s Head of Fixed Income Strategy, and Scott Welch, the firm’s CIO of Model Portfolios, recently shared some insights on how model portfolios can be used to generate yield in the current environment. They see this as an opportune time to invest in fixed income especially given the differential between the S&P 500’s dividend yield and short and long-term rates. 


Currently, they see the Fed as wanting to remain hawkish, however the rise in long-term yields has also contributed to a tightening of monetary policy. In terms of inflation, they believe it has peaked but that the Fed is unlikely to begin cutting rates until the middle of 2024 due to ongoing tightness in the labor market. Additionally, they note that credit spreads have recently widened but nowhere near extreme levels.


Amid this environment, they recommend that investors stick to the short-end of the curve given the inverted yield curve and favor US Treasury floating rate notes which are the highest-yielding Treasuries. Within WisdomTree’s model portfolios, the firm has reduced its weight of high-yield debt while modestly boosting allocation to mortgage-backed securities.


Overall, they see fixed income as resuming its natural role - providing low-risk income and serving as a hedge against equities. 

Finsum: WisdomTree shared some insights on the current macro landscape, and how it’s positioning its model portfolio allocation to flourish in this environment. 


Published in Wealth Management
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