Institutional allocators, wealth managers and family offices want the best performance possible from their portfolios, but what does “best” really mean for these firms? When they allocate towards hedge funds or other alternatives, are they looking for improved returns or for portfolio diversification? And what are the trends that will drive allocation decisions in 2019?These are amongst the key questions that will be addressed by a panel of seasoned allocators at the upcoming Profit & Loss New York conference on March 27.
Data from BarclayHedge confirms previous Profit & Loss reporting that CTAs saw overall positive results in February, with the BarclayHedge CTA Index showing a 0.32% return last month.Five of eight of the CTA sectors tracked in the Barclay CTA indices were in positive territory for February, though the agriculture and currency sectors were a drag on performance.“CTA funds got in step with equity markets in February, and those able to sit out a week-long energy reversal at the beginning of the month were rewarded by month-end,” says Sol Waksman, president of BarclayHedge.
Will improved performance from hedge funds in early 2019 help shift the perspectives of prospective allocators to these funds?At the end of last year investors were seemingly nervous about stock market volatility, global economic uncertainty and major commodity price downturns – with hedge fund redemptions reaching $42.3 billion in December, according to data from BarclayHedge, a division of Backstop Solutions. This was the largest monthly outflow in five years and represented the fourth straight month of net redemptions.This data comes from the Barclay Fund Flow Indicator, published by BarclayHedge, a division of Backstop Solutions, and shows that this was the largest monthly outflow in at least five years, and a fourth consecutive month of straight redemptions. In total, hedge fund outflows in 2018 stood at $89.2 billion, or 3.1% of total industry assets.
The SG CTA Index was up by 0.42%, whilst the SG Trend Index was up by 0.81%. Short term strategies struggled and underperformed other strategies, with the SG STTI down by 1.19% for the month. The SG Trend Indicator attributed February’s positive results to gains in currencies and a selection of commodity markets, as well as trends in interest rate markets. Long positions in bond markets reverted slightly, leading to small losses, whilst positions in equity markets began to adapt to the renewed upward trend. “We’ve seen an uptick of performance in February, and we maintain the benefits CTA strategies can have in diversified portfolios. It will be interesting to observe if CTAs can continue this upward trend as we look towards March and the rest of the year,” says Tom Wrobel, director of alternative investments consulting at Societe Generale Prime Services.
Once again, it’s that time of year when our editorial staff dust off the infamous Profit & Loss crystal ball in order to take a peek into the future and tell our readers what they should expect from the year ahead. Colin Lambert’s “Trade of the Year” makes a welcome return, and he’s back with a bang as he focuses on the drivers of the ever-popular NOK/MXN pair. As has become custom, Lambert is also predicting consolidation within the FX industry, but regular readers might just be surprised to find out that for once he doesn’t think that the M&A activity will be on the platform side this year.
Managed futures stumbled out of the gate to start 2019, as the Barclay CTA Index, compiled by BarclayHedge, a division of Backstop Solutions, was down 0.43% for January .All but two of the BarclayHedge’s managed futures indices were in negative territory for January, as CTA funds were generally unable to build on their modest gains of the final two months of 2018.“After precipitous price declines in December, most CTAs found themselves on the wrong side of the street in January as energy and equity prices unexpectedly rose from the ashes of the previous month and rebounded sharply,” says Sol Waksman, president of BarclayHedge.
Following an initial positive run in the first few days of the year, all CTAs in the Societe Generale (SG) Indices were in negative territory by the end of January. The SG Trend Index was down 3.25% and the SG Short-Term Traders Index was down 1.71%. The SG CTA Index returned -1.99% despite being helped slightly by three non-trend following managers’ positive performances during the month.The SG Trend Indicator attributed losses to equity markets and currencies. They were positioned short in risk assets, hence equity markets’ reversal and gains in one of their best Januarys ever, contributed to losses of 3.91% at the portfolio level.
A new report from RCM Alternatives highlights the struggles of Commodity Trading Advisors (CTAs) in 2018.The report, Managed Futures/Global Macro 2018 Strategy Review, notes that last year was generally a disappointing one for managed futures and global macro across most strategy groups. This is perhaps surprising, given that there were significant sell-offs in the equities markets in 2018, which is when the diversification benefits of having CTAs in the portfolio is supposed to be felt.
As the report explains: “With equities getting hit hard, this was a prime opportunity for CTAs, managed futures and macro to come off the mat and show investors the power of diversification. Instead, the lesson was that sometimes non-correlation does not equal negative correlation, especially in the short term.”
There’s something for everyone in this week’s In the FICC of It podcast as Colin Lambert and Galen Stops traverse the US legal system, trading, crypto and China.
Listen in as Lambert explains why he is mystified at the prosecution’s flip-flop in the Mark Johnson case and angry at the FX industry’s previous lack of effort to explain how markets work to the US legal authorities; and Stops takes a look at a new report n his favourite industry – CTAs. Having had the data explained to him, Lambert also thinks he knows why some CTA sectors are doing well and some aren’t, so that’s another of his “theories” then…
Our podcasters then move onto debate whether crypto markets will evolve to an OTC model and whether this would be a good thing for attracting institutional money to what is still a relatively nascent market.
Stops closes out by reporting from an analysts’ briefing this week that highlighted a change in approach on the part of China to its programme of liberalisation of the yuan.
Currency trading was one of the few bright spots for CTA performance last year, according to new data from BarclayHedge, now a division of Backstop Solutions.While the Barclay CTA Index was down 2.85% for 2018, the Currency Traders Index was up 5.1% for the year, and the Discretionary Traders Index gained 2.01%.These, however, were the only two indices to post positive returns for the year.
Indices posting losses on the year were led by the Cryptocurrency Traders Index, which was down 63.24% through December. The MPI Barclay Elite Systematic Traders Index was down 5.12% for the year, the Diversified Traders Index declined 4.71%, the Systematic Traders Index dropped 4.16%, the Fin./Met. Traders Index was down 3.20%, and the Agricultural Traders Index was down 0.27%.