To try and address these needs multi-asset funds have become more and more popular as they should represent the epitome of diversification with a multi-asset approach – the clue is in the name after all.
But not all of these strategies have delivered as well as might have been expected. Some are curtailed by the IMA sector they sit in, so are limited to the maximum equity exposure they can have, while some simply have missed the rally by being too cautious or defensive.
Meanwhile the search for diversification continues apace with yet more ‘new’ and ‘original’ products appearing on the shelves. These include multi-asset exchange traded funds, and ideas such as multi-asset property funds.
Add this to the usual list of alternative assets such as infrastructure, derivatives, hedge funds and the like, and the choice for an investor is simply never-ending.
This explains why multi-asset funds remain so popular, but with discretionary fund managers, risk-targeted funds and model portfolios all looking to get in on the action, the question is what do these funds offer that is different.
But as the performance research suggests, multi-asset funds are only as good as the manager and the strategy behind them. Some are traditional equities and bonds only, while others delve into the wide range of options to make their offering truly ‘diversifed’.
Equities are seen by many to be the most effective asset class at the moment, particularly developed equities given the recent market rally, but emerging markets are once again starting to divide manager opinion on whether now is the time to reinvest.
Meanwhile bonds, seen by some as the steadfast, perhaps boring, section of the asset class, are showing some signs of hope as yields start to rise and prices fall. But with US tapering set to continue will loose European monetary policy be enough to offset any negative consequences?
As always, the key for advisers is knowing exactly what you’re getting for your client, and whether they are likely to benefit most from a traditional, simple approach, or if a pick’n’mix bag is the best way forward.