Altegris is not a huge company; managing around $3.3 billion in client assets—a modest size for the financial services industry. But the Genworth-owned small company casts a large shadow for at least a few reasons.
For one, it has a highly focused niche. “100% alternatives. 100% of the time,” is the company’s motto, and it has caught a wave of growth on that space since the company’s 2002 founding.
Second, its annual investment conference, concluding Friday in Carlsbad, Calif., could fairly be said to be the most interesting on the circuit. If your objective is to cast a long shadow and be sure everyone has heard of you, inviting Mohamed El-Erian, Nouriel Roubini, David Rosenberg, A. Gary Shilling, Jeffrey Gundlach, Niall Ferguson and Ayaan Hirsi Ali to your event more than accomplishes that goal.
A third reason for Altegris’ rise is doubtless the role of its co-founder and current CEO Jon Sundt (left).
Much has been written about how he created this unique alternatives shop—mainly by democratizing the market for exotic investment strategies such as long-short and managed futures, formerly reserved for hedge fund investors, available to the masses.
“Jon has made the ‘alternative investments’ universe—as broad and ill-defined as it is—much more understandable and accessible to a wide variety of investors,” says Bob Seawright, chief investment officer of Madison Avenue Securities. “He seems to have a clear vision of what he wants Altegris to accomplish and a commitment to remain true to it.”
I had the merit of sitting with Sundt at the Altegris conference and was able to get a little bit behind the quant-focused exterior to see a bit of the interior world that fueled his rise.