Considering Alternative Investments
Considering Alternative Investments
It’s no secret that the events and market volatility of the past few years continue to leave many individuals concerned about their investment portfolios. Despite what has proven to be a substantial market recovery, memories of the 2008-2009 market crisis and a number of ongoing global economic issues have prompted investors to seek investment solutions that can offer enhanced diversification, reduced volatility, and improved capital preservation.
Historically, investors have turned to fixed-income investments as a solution, and this time has proven to be no different. But the substantial flows into fixed-income assets in recent years – combined with the prospects for future interest-rate increases – have heightened concerns over diminished opportunities or potential “bubbles” within segments of the fixed-income market.
While the flight to quality and risk aversion in late 2008 and early 2009 was pervasive, many investors have continued to hold a conservative position throughout what has been a significant price recovery in both broad equity and credit markets. This strong asset price appreciation and unprecedented volatility have created a conundrum for investors who want to participate in equity and fixed income markets while limiting portfolio risk.
They find themselves asking, “Should I maintain a risk-off posture and merely accept the generally paltry returns offered by lower risk assets?” vs. “Do I chase returns through riskier investments despite the challenges still existing within the current overall environment?” This perceived all-or-nothing dilemma tends to leave many investors paralyzed.
While there are no simple answers to these questions, there are alternative solutions available to help investors diversify their portfolios beyond traditional stocks and bonds and complement their current asset allocation mix. Alternative investments – including hedge funds, managed futures, private equity, real estate, and commodities – offer investment solutions that best suit investors’ needs, objectives, and preferences.
Alternative investment strategies may deliver significant benefits to an overall investment portfolio, such as:
- Greater potential for diversification
- Historically low or non-correlation to traditional investments
- Seek to minimize market cycle peaks and troughs
- Exposure to a broader range of investment opportunities
- Greater potential for improved risk-adjusted returns
While investors may benefit from the ability of alternative investments to potentially improve the risk-reward profiles in their portfolios, it’s important to remember the investments themselves can carry significant risks. Government regulation and monitoring of these types of investments may be minimal or nonexistent; returns may be volatile and present an increased risk of investment loss.
Here are some important considerations to keep in mind if you’re interested in pursuing opportunities in alternative investments for your portfolio with your Investment Professional:
Complexity: Alternative investment strategies may span multiple markets, securities and risk factors. Because of the complex nature of these investment opportunities, an investor must rely on the experience, representations and credentials of advisors, fund managers and distribution agents.
Fees and expenses: In most alternative investment strategies, managers are paid in two ways: They typically receive a fee calculated as a percentage of assets under management. They also typically receive a share of the strategy’s gains – a practice designed to reward the manager for positive returns. Trading fees and expenses may be significant with the potential to deplete trading profits. Funds of funds are subject to multiple layers of such fees.
Holdings: Markets for a portfolio’s holdings may be relatively inactive and it is possible that trading in a specific portfolio holding could cease altogether. As a result, market valuations of specific portfolio holdings may not always be possible, causing accurate valuation of a portfolio to be difficult at times.
Leverage: Because many alternative investment strategies seek to amplify mispricings that are relatively small, borrowing is often critical to delivering significant returns to investors. This use of leverage tends to amplify both gains and losses.
Limited liquidity: A fund may not have a secondary market for its interests and none may be expected to develop, and there are restrictions on transferring interests of the fund. Performance figures may be based on valuations of illiquid investments that are difficult to value, and certain managers may carry such assets at cost until a realization event.
Liquidity and redemptions: An investor’s ability to withdraw capital from funds or partnerships may be subject to specific limitations, including initial “lock-up” periods, advance notification requirements and predetermined “windows” for redemptions.
Potential loss of investment: Speculative investments and are not suitable for all investors, nor do they represent a complete investment program.
Tax risks: Investing in certain alternative investment funds may involve significant tax consequences. Investors should understand that they will likely be required to obtain extensions of the filing date for their income tax returns due to possible delays in the delivery of
Schedule K-1. Nothing contained herein constitutes investment, legal, tax or other advice nor is it to be relied upon in making an investment or other decision.
Transparency: In order to preserve strategic advantage and the ability to transact nimbly, fund managers often significantly limit the ability for investors to review portfolio holdings. This practice – known as opacity or lack of transparency – can limit investors’ and advisors’ abilities to monitor managers and evaluate risks.
Valuation variations: Investors should recognize that certain alternative investment funds are not required to provide periodic pricing or valuation information or information about their underlying investments to investors.
Alternative investments and alternative strategies are not suitable for all investors. Any offer to purchase or sell a specific Alternative Investment product will be made by the product’s official offering documents. Investors could lose all or a substantial amount of their investments in these products. These investments carry specific investor qualifications which can include high income and net-worth requirements as well as relatively high investment minimums. They are complex investment vehicles which generally have high costs and substantial risks. The high expenses often associated with these investments must be offset by trading profits and other income. They tend to be more volatile than other types of investments and present an increased risk of investment loss. There may also be a lack of transparency as to the underlying assets. Other risks may apply as well, depending on the specific investment product.
This information is for educational purposes only and should not be used or construed as financial advice, an offer to sell, a solicitation of an offer to buy, or a recommendation for any security. Global Alternative Investments and/or our firm do not guarantee that the information supplied is complete, undertake to advise you of any change of opinion, or make any guarantees of future results obtained from its use. Our affiliates may issue reports or have opinions that are inconsistent with, and reach conclusions from, this information.
This article was written by/for our firm and provided courtesy of G. Pete Fields, CLU, ChFC in Littleton, CO at 303-233-5150
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