European hedge funds could be major beneficiaries of expected volatility, with some 52% of respondents to a recent ML Capital Asset Management survey saying they are planning on raising exposure to the alternative asset category.
Trend in UCITs Growing
The 13th edition of the quarterly ML Capital Alternative UCITS Barometer, published in the Opalesque UCITS publication, polled 60 institutional investors who collectively manage almost $95 billion “and today invest upwards of $20 billion into Alternative UCITS reflecting the widening of the investor base for regulated alternative products in Europe.” Those respondents range from insurance and pension funds to private banking institutions and financial advisers.
“Hedge funds managed to navigate very choppy waters over the first three months of 2014 and as a whole, posted solid gains for the first quarter,” the report noted. The 52% of respondents planning on increasing their UCITs allocation is up from 30% just nine months ago and up from 20% throughout 2012.
Market neutral funds in vogue
Market neutral funds, such as relative value plays that engage in long / short strategies, appear in the spotlight in the report. “With volatility expected, there is a strong demand for market neutral managers in order to moderate drawdowns, with 48% of investors looking to increase their allocations to the strategy,” said John Lowry, Co -Founder & CIO of ML Capital.
The most uncorrelated strategies are often found in managed futures, which had difficult performance in the UCITs category which was offset by stronger fixed income performance, the report noted.
Small number of funds generate majority of asset flow
The Opalesque UCITs publication report also noted that total assets managed UCITs absolute return funds grew twice as fast as the global market during the first quarter of 2014. As in the US, the growth can be explained in large part by a small number of funds. According to the report, “the Schroder GAIA Sirios US Equity and the MLIS Marshall Wace TOPS UCITs that collected respectively USD 1899 million and EUR 588 million in Q1 2014. In total 10 platform funds increased their assets under management by more than EUR 100 million during the period.”