Momtchil Pojarliev, deputy head of currencies at BNP Paribas Asset Management, talks about some of the misconceptions that exist amongst institutional investors regarding currency hedging.
For example, he explains that in the past, some firms have been unclear on the exact difference between absolute return strategies and active hedging.
In the former, the aim is to produce risk-adjusted returns that are as high as possible for a given volatility. The currency manager is allocated a notional amount of funds and can invest in any given currency to try and produce the maximum amount of returns possible.
Even when implementing passive currency hedging strategies, it’s still important to think in terms of alpha, explained Jay Moore, a senior vice president at Brown Brothers Harriman (BBH), during a panel discussion at the Profit & Loss Forex Network New York conference.
Although this might initially seem to be a contradictory statement, Moore explained that providers of passive hedging services can differentiate themselves both through risk management and what he termed “operational alpha”.
While portfolio risk obviously isn’t a concern when implementing passive currency strategies, Moore explained that there is a strong focus on managing other types of risk, such as regulatory risk, operational risk and managing the fiduciary risk that managers have on behalf of the funds that they outsource to firms that are providing the passive hedging.
Despite a decline of investment into actively managed FX funds in recent years, speakers at the Profit & Loss Forex Network New York conference expressed optimism for these funds.
Chris Solarz, a managing director at Cliffwater, a firm that provides investment advisory services, explained that hedge fund strategies in general have struggled to outperform indices since the financial crisis, both on an absolute and relative basis.
“Someone mentioned on an earlier panel that it’s not fair to compare hedge fund strategies, hedge fund indices, to the S&P - but in the industry 10 years ago, that’s not at all how we were selling it.