Wealth Management

In an article for Axios, Dan Primack discussed some of the competing pressures faced by CalPERS CEO Marcie Frost. CalPERS is America’s largest public pension system and has more than $440 billion in assets under management. 

Currently, Frost is facing pressure from conservatives and liberals about ESG investing. Conservatives see it as a ‘tax’ to accomplish liberal policy goals, while liberals are pushing legislation in the California state legislature that would bar investing in publicly traded fossil fuel companies.

Frost is against such limitations, however she is a supporter of ESG and sees it as key criteria in evaluating investments. As an example, she cited CalPERS’ significant commercial real estate investments in coastal and urban areas whose value could be impacted by climate events. 

Her priority is to fulfill the pension obligations for Californians which she considers more important than ESG factors. She said she would pursue investments that would generate healthy returns regardless of ESG factors but would use her standing as an institutional shareholder to push the company in a more ESG direction. 

By banning fossil fuels, CalPERS would not be able to play a role in helping fossil fuel companies transition for the future. However, Frost does expect the legislation to pass.

Finsum: CalPERS CEO Marcie Frost is facing competing pressures from liberals and conservatives over ESG investing.

In an article for AdvisorHub, Steven Brod of Crystal Capital Partners discussed how alternative investing options are increasingly important when it comes to financial advisor recruiting. He believes that having a robust alternative investing platform is essential for small and mid-size wealth management firms to successfully recruit advisors. 

Alternative investments have exploded in popularity following the poor performance of stocks and bonds in 2022. These investments typically provide increased diversification and the potential for higher returns. 

An effective alt platform will give advisors access to all sorts of strategies and the requisite technology to manage these investments. Interest in alternative investing is especially high among the younger demographic so not having a sufficient platform could repel advisors with such clients. 

Some examples of offerings include hedge funds, private equity, private credit, SPVs, and venture capital. Overall, the platform should offer a broad variety of investing strategies and tools to evaluate these options from a quantitative and qualitative perspective. The final step is to ensure that there is an alignment of interest between the platform, advisor, and clients. 

Finsum: Alternative investing is exploding especially among younger, entrepreneurial advisors. Here is what to look for in a good alt investing platform.

In an article for VettaFi’s Modern Alpha channel, Nick Peters-Golden discussed the outperformance of active fixed income funds in the first quarter of 2023. The entire sector has had strong performance since the end of last year primarily due to decelerating inflation, rising recession odds, and the banking crisis. 

As a result, fixed income ETFs saw $52 billion of inflows in the first quarter which is more than 60% of the total $80 billion in ETF inflows. Within the fixed income ETF universe, active bond funds have outperformed as they have been able to take advantage of market volatility and concentrate on shorter-term maturities which have outperformed. 

One example is the Kingsbarn Tactical Bond ETF which invests across the credit and duration spectrum in global bond ETFs and Treasuries. This is an outperformer among active bond funds with a 6.2% return YTD. Another outperformer is the First Trust TCW Securitized Plus ETF which invests primarily in mortgage-backed securities that are comprised of private securities and government-sponsored debt. This fund is up 5.2% YTD. 

Finsum: Active fixed income funds have outperformed in 2023 and been the recipient of the bulk of ETF inflows.

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