Mutual funds continue to capture larger shares of the alternative investment market, according to the 2013-2014 Alternative Investment Survey of U.S. Institutions and Financial Advisors released Monday.
The survey, sponsored by Morningstar and Barron’s, is in its eighth year. It shows mutual funds continue to make gains across the board as a preferred means for accessing alternative strategies.
Mutual funds jumped to 73 percent from 57 percent in last year’s survey as the vehicle of choice for advisors to gain access to long-short equity or debt strategies. Mutual funds rose to 48 percent from 32 percent for institutions accessing managed-futures strategies.
The survey included 372 institutional investors and 301 financial advisors.
According to the survey, organic growth rates for alternative mutual funds rose to “eye-popping levels.” Long-short equity funds rose by more than 80 percent in 2013, followed by nontraditional-bond and multi-alternative funds. In addition, advisors and institutional investors both say long-short equity and multi-alternative investments will be the top choices for investments over the next five years.
As of May, almost half of all alternative mutual fund assets were concentrated in the 10 largest funds. The top 10 are JPMorgan Strategic Income Opps Fund, Pimco Unconstrained Bond Fund, Goldman Sacks Strategic Income Fund, MainStay Marketfield Fund, BlackRock Strategic Income Opps Fund, Gateway Fund, Putnam Diversified Income Trust, AQR Managed Futures Strategy Fund, BlackRock Global Long/Short Credit Fund and Pimco Emerging Markets Currency Fund.
Assets also surged in the nontraditional bond category in 2013, with many advisors citing the poor bond market outlook as a primary reason for the increased investments. Low correlation is the most attractive feature for fixed income alternatives, the survey says.
Alternative investments remain important for both advisors and institutions with more than half indicating that they were as important or more important than traditional investments, but enthusiasm may be cooling, says the survey. Fewer institutions and significantly fewer advisors cited alternatives as “much more important” than traditional investments in this year’s survey than they did in 2010.
After record inflows into alternatives in recent years, growth in alternatives may start to ease, especially for advisors, according to the survey. In the 2010 survey, more than half of advisors said they expected to increase their allocations to alternatives by more than 10 percent each year. However, only 39 percent said the same this year.
High fees are cited by both financial advisors and institutional investors as the biggest drawback for alternatives.