The prospect of having an investment industry genius strategically (and often aggressively) managing your asset allocations in an attempt to kill risk and crank out returns can be alluring. Add to that the current upsets throughout the global economy, and despite their stigmatic volatility, hedge funds are looking pretty tempting.
Unfortunately for many retail investors, the restrictions that determine who can access a hedge fund don't leave much in terms of acceptance. In order to invest in these managed funds, one must either be an accredited investor with $1 million plus in liquid assets and a $200,000+/year paycheck, or a qualified purchaser, who owns at least $5 million in investments already. This clearly narrows the investor diversity scope down a bit.
But, the shell of the hedge fund industry looks like it’s finally starting to crack. Recent findings of financial research firm Cerfulli Associates published in an InvestmentNews article last week demonstrated that money managers expect their allocations into alternative investments to increase by at least 50% over the next three years. Investors and financial advisors also have a growing desire to increase alternative investments to negate market downturns and create a divergence from the stock and bond market.
But what does this have to do with making the elusive world of hedge funds more mainstream? It seems the ripples caused by an overall increase in demand for alternative investments have reached the mutual fund industry in the form of something known as ‘alternative mutual funds’.
Funds of this sort fall into alternative sectors such as long-short equity (one of the more popular), currencies, precious metals, and commodities. Taking it to the next level, alternative mutual funds twisted and evolved a bit further into something very similar, known as hedge-like mutual funds (the two names are often even interchanged.) These funds have the potential to hedge risk and generate stronger returns using some of the same strategies and tools that hedge fund managers use.
The most attractive characteristic of investing in a hedge-like mutual fund is that now, average-income investors can access the advantages of hedge fund investing previously available only to those qualified to invest in a hedge fund. Because the SEC regulates them, hedge-like mutual funds preserve some amount of the conservatism and transparency that is demonstrated within traditional mutual funds. Unfortunately, this can also impact these funds negatively in that it restricts their flexibility and requires a greater level of liquidity.
Though these crossbreed mutual funds aren’t anything new and earth shattering, Cerulli predicts that within the next five years, their presence will increase to the point of comprising 10 percent of mutual fund assets - a 245+ percent surge. The fueling of their growth really comes down to one thing: education. Money managers who strive to educate financial advisers on their investment products are the ones seeing positive results. This is due simply to the fact that many advisers are not yet familiar with all of their options in alternatives available to them. And we all know how easy it is to fear the unknown.
The theme of taking an investment that was once unavailable to traditional investors and making it available to them is common across the alternative investing landscape. Hedge-like mutual funds have successfully done what Currensee is striving to accomplish by carrying out this theme. Just the way hedge fund management, tools, and strategies were only available to high net-worth investors at one time, not long ago the world currency market experienced the same inaccessibility. However, with the emergence of various types of trade replication software and autotrading, even those with no prior knowledge of currency trading can allocate a portion of their investments to this type of alternative.