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Investing in Multi-Asset – September 2016

    Investing in Multi-Asset – September 2016


    Certainly in the lead-up to the EU referendum investors piled into multi-asset, according to the Barings IFA Barometer of 120 advisers. It reveals 51 per cent of advisers are encouraging clients to “consider greater diversification of assets”, while 27 per cent are encouraging investment in multi-asset products “to combat current volatility”.

    The survey also shows 13 per cent of respondents expect their clients to increase exposure to multi-asset funds by more than 20 per cent over the next 12 months, while 19 per cent say clients will increase multi-asset exposure to between 10 and 19 per cent.

    Marino Valensise, head of multi-asset and income at Baring Asset Management, explains: “Before the referendum, a vote for Brexit was perceived by UK advisers as the biggest threat, and we are now in that volatile landscape. Advisers and their clients are asking what they can do to mitigate risks.

    “With the Brexit vote now cast, the feared uncertainty and volatility has certainly played out, as much on the political stage as in markets, and looks set to continue as the Brexit decoupling gets under way.”

    Justin Onuekwusi, manager of LGIM’s Multi-Index range, believes there is a “chase” to find more diversified asset classes – a trend the multi-asset space is capitalising on.

    “The main thing driving that is we’re in an environment where yields are grinding lower and lower,” he says. “At some point people expect the Federal Reserve to start increasing rates again. If that happens, then you get a dilemma where the structural relationship between equities and bonds will not hold.

    “I think many multi-asset fund managers are aware of that and they’re looking to find new sources of diversification to provide real protection if the equity markets do fall.”

    The shift to multi-asset is being driven not only by the macro backdrop but also by other general industry trends. Advisers perhaps don’t see model portfolios as the only solution for clients anymore.

    Steve Kenny, director of wholesale at Kames Capital, observes: “I think the broader market is looking at multi-asset and some advisers are seeing it as the core around which they can build other holdings – so they’re buying two or three multi-asset vehicles and putting them into portfolios as a bedrock.”

    He adds: “I think multi-asset is gaining [in] popularity because the general consumer is looking for [investments] that are more outcome-based, rather than relative performance.”

    When it comes to performance, Mr Kenny believes the Investment Association sectors make it difficult for advisers to compare multi-asset funds. “That’s why I think the only true way to compare them is to look at what they are aiming to deliver to me and my client, and assessing how successful they have been at that delivery.”

    A number of multi-asset and multi-asset income products have appeared on the market in the past few years, but is there a risk the space is nearing saturation?

    Mr Onuekwusi notes: “Within multi-asset, you’ve got to start to see some consolidation. We have seen a lot of launches over the past few years. There are a number of multi-asset funds that simply haven’t raised enough assets to be sustainable, so we will start seeing fewer launches.”

    Ellie Duncan is deputy features editor at Investment Adviser

    In this special report


    Please answer the six multiple choice questions below in order to bank your CPD. Multiple attempts are available until all questions are correctly answered.

    1. According to the Barings IFA Barometer, what percentage of advisers is encouraging investment in multi-asset to “combat volatility”?

    2. Over the past five years, world equity markets rose by how much in US dollar terms?

    3. Global equities and commodities were highly correlated over a 20-year period prior to which year?

    4. What share of global GDP did agriculture account for in 2014?

    5. Investment Association statistics show in July mixed-asset products clocked up net retail sales of how much?

    6. When did the first multi-asset funds launch in the UK?

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