This is the third in a series of blogs exploring the use of liquid alternatives by advisors, based on reporting conducted among advisors for the August 2014 Investment Advisor cover story, Alts Are the Answer.
One of the main responsibilities of advisors is to match their clients’ objectives with appropriate portfolios. Blend in aging demographics and lowered risk tolerance to the equation and what’s the result? A booming market for liquid alternative funds (see U.S. Alt Mutual Fund Asset Market Share to Double by 2015: Cerulli.)
Let’s starts with population trends. More than 10,000 baby boomers turn 65 every day, and will continue to do so for the next two decades, according to the Social Security Administration’s 2012 Annual Peformance Plan. For these folks, the mindset has shifted from portfolio gains to investment income. Also, a more stable net asset value is preferred to ensure that the income stream is not affected by dramatic market events.
The desire for more steady returns is a logical byproduct of the aging demographic. According to the RIAs with whom I spoke for my Alts Are the Answer article, the emphasis on wealth management has shifted to an exercise in risk management. Clients still want some upside participation, according to these advisors, but they also want downside protection. Many clients (and advisors) are concerned that already rock-bottom interest rates will prevent bonds from adding the same amount of diversification as they have in the past.
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These new realities set the foundation for a surge in liquid alternative investing. According to a recent McKinsey and Co. report, growth in liquid alt funds will be augmented by the blurring of lines between them and traditional long-only products.