NEW YORK (HedgeWorld.com)--A larger number of investors attended this year's New York Roundtable Forum, a regular event organized by Jane Halsey, than in any previous year. This record-size crowd focused strongly on certain concerns that had not been on the forefront at last year's meeting.
Notable among these were questions about risk controls, no doubt reflecting worries about market volatility, and about the extent of cash holdings. At the Roundtable, groups of investors sit with managers, listen to a short presentation, then ask due diligence questions. The investors rotate at intervals, moving to another manager's table.
This year's 140 participants from the investor side, most of them experienced professionals, spanned the gamut of funds of funds, university endowments, foundations and large family offices. They were there to listen to 20 presenters across a variety of strategies.
Questions such as "What is the worst that can happen with your strategy?" and "What are your risk controls?" were asked insistently at several tables during this Tuesday's meeting. "What keeps you awake at night?" one investor asked a manager. "What is your worst nightmare?" queried another.
Some managers spoke of new risk control measures they are implementing to better deal with the current market environment. Prodded by their audience, they described the conditions under which their strategy would not work. There was occasionally a pause after a particularly graphic description of a potential disaster scenario, and then more talk of risk controls.
"What are your cash reserves?" was another frequent inquiry, followed by a discussion of what the manager is going to do about any excessive holdings. Cash now occupies a big place in hedge portfolios because of a lack of investment opportunities in some strategies and a very uncertain environment for others.
While these are all standard issues that managers have always needed to address, such questions appeared to be more numerous this year.