MutualFundWire.com: An Alts Shop Plots Single-Manager Funds and Ramps Up Its Platform Presence
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Thursday, June 05, 2014

An Alts Shop Plots Single-Manager Funds and Ramps Up Its Platform Presence


Context Asset Management, which launched its first alternative multi-manager mutual fund in March, is planning to set up two to four single manager alternative funds this summer and is still in talks with hedge fund firms about sub-advising. Both the multi-manager and single-manager funds will be sub-advised, and Kevin Garton, chief marketing officer, says one of the managers could carry over from the multi-manager platform, although he declined to say which one.

Kevin Garton
Context Asset Management
Chief Marketing Officer
The Bala Cynwyd, PA-based firm has also had success in bringing its first fund unto many of the large custodial bank platforms and plans to announce them soon. Garton couldn't yet name them, as the firm is still in contract negotiations with the platforms. It's unusual for a fund to get on these platforms straight out of the gate, but Garton said Context has many strong relationships with large investors who use the platform and want to invest in its funds. They have been clamoring to get Context's fund unto the platform.

A distribution firm called Foresight in Portland, Maine, has also assisted Context well in its marketing effort.

"And part of it is the relationships our senior people have at those platforms that are helping us bypass some of those requirements," Garton says.

Platforms of this sort often require a three-year track record in a given fund, but are willing to waive them in some special cases. Managers have found this to be especially true of alternatives. The wirehouses are tougher, though, Garton admits.

"They don't seem to be waiving those requirements and some of them are building their own products, so they're still sorting out how they want to approach alternatives," Garton says of the wirehouses.

Context is pitching its funds mostly to the independent advisor and RIA channels. The firm was started with funding from Context Capital Partners, which deals in hedge fund seeding and some private equity/venture capital investments and, most recently, started hosting alternatives conferences after teaming up with AlphaMetrix Events Management last year. Their next event is the Context Summits West 2014 conference in Dana Point, CA on Sept. 29-Oct. 1.

Steve Kneeley, who previously headed up Spider Management and Turner Investment Partners, is Context's CEO, while John Culbertson, who previously ran investments for a large family office, serves as the firm's chief investment officer. Context received the initial investment in its $45-million mutual fund from the Accord family office in PA.

The underlying hedge funds in the Context Alternative Strategies Investor fund include Armory Funds, Del Mar Asset Management, ESM Management, First Principles Capital Management, Highland Capital Management, Kellner Private Fund Management, Phineus Parhers and Weatherbie Capital.


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