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Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Alts Mutual Fund PMs Woo Reporters

Reported by Irene Park

Global affairs seemed the main concern of panelists and attendees at the Alternative Mutual Funds Forum's media briefing, which was originally planned more as a forum for comparing different alternative investment strategies by various advisors. The briefing, which took place today at the New York Yacht Club in Midtown, was moderated by Fortigent senior managing director of investment research and strategy Scott Welch.

Around 20 attendees showed up for the media briefing, where they indulged in a selection of sandwiches and an impressive assortment of desserts, which included a colorful array of macarons. After brief mingling, Forward [profile] president Jeff Cusack kicked off the session by reading off a series of numbers. Attendance for the forum events was stellar this year at 200, he said, where 55 percent of attendees were RIAs and 35 percent came independent broker dealers. Cusack also read the results of a survey that tracked the intentions of 700 advisors to invest in alternatives. An impressive 90 percent of advisors said they wanted to increase allocations to alternative investments. Of the different investment categories listed as options -- which included long/short debt, long-short equity, and managed futures -- 90 percent of advisors said they planned to invest in commodities.

The panelists at the media briefing included: Dick Pfister, executive VP and managing director at Altegris [profile]; Adam Weiner, a portfolio manager for Driehaus [profile]; Nathan Rowader, director of investments and senior market strategist at Forward; William Marr, president and CEO of Ramius Trading Strategies [profile]; Eric Stein, VP and portfolio manager at Eaton Vance [profile]; and Mike Dellapa, portfolio manager at Guggenheim Investments [profile].

Europe ended up dominating the discussion at the session. Most of the panelists seemed to agree that Greece would exit Eurozone, although not in the near future. However, they did not expect such unexpected market conditions to shake the alternative investment sphere significantly.

"The shock will be that things won't be as bad as people think," said Rowader, who predicted that stocks will be 10 to 15 percent up by the end of the year.

"Markets move not on bad news but unexpected bad news," Stein asserted.

He compared the fall of Lehman Brothers in 2008 to the current situation in Greece, saying that because investors are prepared for bad news in Europe, they will not be so shaken such an event should it take place.  

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