Alternative investments started to enter the mainstream after the market crash five years ago, and they remain a popular choice for many financial advisors and institutions, according to a survey released Monday by Morningstar Inc. and Barron’s magazine.
Investors increasingly are accessing alternatives through mutual funds––alternative mutual funds had inflows of $19.7 billion last year, while Morningstar estimates that $7.6 billion flowed out of single-strategy hedge funds from among the hedge funds in its database.
"Institutional investors are starting to see alternative mutual funds as substitutes for hedge funds, and more financial advisors are incorporating these liquid, transparent investments into their client portfolios," says Nadia Papagiannis, Morningstar’s director of alternative funds research.
The survey found that both advisors and institutions said they seek alternatives primarily for diversification/low correlation and enhanced risk-adjusted returns.
Among the survey’s findings, advisors expressed strong interest in yield-producing alternatives. In addition, 63 percent of advisors said they allocated somewhere between 6 percent and 20 percent of their clients‘ portfolios to alternative investments, while15% of advisors anticipated allocating more than 20 percent to alternative investments over the next five years.
But both advisors and institutions said high fees were the top reason to hesitate about investing in alternatives, followed by liquidity and transparency concerns. Thirty percent of advisors cited uncertain benefits as another cause for pause, and 22 percent listed lack of clarity on how alternatives work within a portfolio framework.
The survey from Morningstar and Barron’s was their fifth-annual look at how advisors and institutions use and perceive alternative investments. The survey received responses from 235 institutions and 471 financial advisors in March 2013.