Maintaining the proper work/family balance ain’t easy, something Jon Sundt knows firsthand. While playing conference host to 400 top advisors and investors in early May (with such notable speakers as Mohamed El-Erian, Jeffrey Gundlach and John Mauldin), Sundt had to cut short an interview in order to race across town to his daughter’s play before racing back to introduce the next VIP.
The only time he had to continue the interview was a few weeks later in between bites of lunch at a San Francisco sidewalk café.
It’s all in a day’s work for the president and CEO of Altegris, the “it” alternative investment provider he founded in 2002. The firm, with its $3.27 billion in client assets and clearing services for $997 million in institutional assets, is attracting buzz; so much so that it was able to effortlessly attract the stellar speaker lineup for its conference.
Sure, he’s riding the alternative asset wave like so many others, but what sets the firm apart is its sharp focus on liquid alternatives—something that’s democratizing the space by bringing these once exclusive products downstream to the masses.
“I was one of the forerunners of bringing true, high-quality, best-of-breed managers to the market,” Sundt explains. “The problem that most advisors have is how do they know if these [managers] are any good?”
With short histories and few track records, he continues, there’s no sophisticated framework available for product research and evaluation.
“Most of their track records are in private placement format or individual managed account format,” he says. “So we decided to use the same expertise we’re using to package private products and move it in the investor space.”
And move they have. Sundt says the firm is “on a tear,” with four different product launches over the past year and a half.
“We went from managed futures products, which now have over a billion dollars in [them],” he begins ticking off new projects in rapid fire succession. “We’ve launched the evolution product, which combines managed futures with Jeffrey Gundlach’s investment from DoubleLine Funds. We’ve launched a global macro product, which has a subset of best-of-breed global macro managers. It’s different from managed futures in that while they tend to be systematic trend followers and computer-based, global macro managers are discretionary and typically follow fundamental-driven models. Combined with those three products, we’re close to $1.6 billion now.”
He isn’t finished and doesn’t stop (or care, it seems) for expressions of admiration.
“In April, we launched a long-short product. We’ve got three sub-advisors in that product, and we’re about to add a fourth. They’re extremely good.”
Just as Altegris offers a wide array of private placement products, he says, the idea is to build out an entire suite of best-of-breed access products in the mutual fund space. It will highlight the firm’s belief that “a lot of these managers will actually manage money in the ‘40 Act space if you give them a good opportunity to do so.”