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12 September 2016

Hedgeweek: Alternative asset managers looking to deepen ‘partnerships’ with investors

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Alternative asset managers are changing their business models and exploring a broader set of arrangements designed to improve the alignment of interest between themselves and their investors, according to a survey by the Alternative Investment Management Association (AIMA).

The study, titled “In Concert”, is the most extensive undertaken by AIMA into the design of manager remuneration, investment terms and other methods of deepening the relationship with investors.

AIMA chief executive Jack Inglis says: “Managers want to build sustainable businesses and investors want the right kind of performance at a fair price. These are the interests that are being ever more closely aligned.”

The report identifies emerging trends, such as the growing prevalence of “claw backs”, whereby a share of past performance fees are returned to investors during loss-making periods, as well as quantifying longer established practices including “skin in the game”, with managers investing their own personal capital alongside their investors’.

The study finds that these and other beneficial terms often can be obtained by investors in return for agreeing to lock up their capital for longer.

According to the survey one-in-three managers now charge performance fees above a hurdle rate, such as a fixed percentage or an index-based benchmark, while three-quarters (77 per cent) of managers offer or are considering offering a sliding fee scale, whereby management fees are reduced as the fund raises assets above particular thresholds.

In addition, almost all (97 per cent) managers charge performance fees only above a high watermark – the fund’s highest previous value, and athough not widespread, more fund managers are offering claw backs, whereby a share of past performance fees are returned to investors during loss-making periods.

Inglis adds: “Hedge funds and other categories of alternative investment funds have, for decades, offered close alignment of interest with their investors. Performance fees charged only above a high watermark and ‘skin-in-the-game’ are decades-old concepts and have helped hedge funds in particular to raise capital from institutional investors. But what our survey shows is that managers now have a much larger array of tools at their disposal and are able to create ever closer and more tailored alignment. This trend helps to explain why, with only isolated exceptions, pensions and other investors have remained loyal to hedge funds in recent years.”

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