Talking Point  

Volatility concerns keep clients' exposure to commodities down

Volatility concerns keep clients' exposure to commodities down

Advisers revealed their clients have less than 10 per cent of their portfolios exposed to commodities.

But a significant percentage also had clients with no exposure to this asset class at all, according to the latest FTAdviser Talking Point poll.

When asked how much exposure to commodities, on average, their clients had, 50 per cent of advisers polled said less than 10 per cent, while 36 per cent of advisers voted their clients had none at all.

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Dennis Hall, chief executive of Yellowtail Financial Planning, said: “I’m also in the group that has zero direct exposure to commodities and I’m comfortable with this. 

“I acknowledge that I have an indirect exposure to commodities through a diversified portfolio of holdings that will include things like mining stocks. These will tend to be loosely correlated with the underlying demand for commodities.” 

Oil prices have climbed again recently, with the price of Brent oil, the international crude benchmark, reaching nearly $80 (£60) a barrel in recent weeks.

Despite this, only 3 per cent of advisers polled said their clients had between 15 and 20 per cent of their portfolios allocated to commodities such as oil, while 11 per cent confirmed clients had less than 15 per cent exposed to this asset class.

James de Bunsen, portfolio manager on Janus Henderson’s UK-based multi-asset team, explained the best way for investors to get access to a physical commodity was via exchange-traded funds.

But he suggested: “Of those people who said they had them [commodities in their portfolios], probably most of them have only got gold and nothing else.

“I think people see gold as something different because is it a currency or is it a commodity? It’s probably, in many ways, more similar to a currency than any of those other major commodities that feature in the indices.”

Mr de Bunsen suggested people had gold in their portfolios mainly as a hedge against geopolitical risks and a hedge against quantitative easing (QE) going wrong.

“That was one of the big reasons for people holding gold a few years ago,” he added.

Mr Hall questioned whether commodities as an asset class was a useful diversifier in clients’ portfolios, “given the additional risks and higher level of volatility that commodities can bring”. 

“My own opinion is that adding commodities to a portfolio is simply adding a higher level of speculation to the portfolio – it may pay off, though in the long run I doubt it does,” he said.