A six-year bull market poised for a correction has led many advisors to alternative investments, which have grown by close to 20% across wirehouses, according to InvestmentNews. However, alts still represent only around 5% of most investors’ portfolios — and that’s not sufficient for proper risk management, industry experts tell the publication.
Between 2012 and 2015, allocation to alternatives by wirehouses rose from $172 billion to $205 billion, according to Money Management Institute and Dover Financial Research data cited by InvestmentNews. The split in 2014 was roughly even between liquid alts and illiquid alts such as hedge and private-equity funds.
But Dick Pfister, head of La Jolla, Calif., RIA AlphaCore Capital, says many investors are stuck on the old-line 60/40 stock-and-bond split out of bull-market complacency. In other words, the rise of alts looks more impressive from a distance because — as Dover president Jean Sullivan tells InvestmentNews — the growth comes from ad hoc rather than truly strategic allocation.
Meanwhile, Ed Butowsky of Chapwood Capital Investment Management tells InvestmentNews tepid allocations to alts do little to control risk. To make a difference, he says, you need 20% or more — and FAs who try with less “haven’t been taught how to manage money.”
But InvestmentNews says it may be as likely that well-meaning advisors are reluctant to levy the higher fees attached to alternatives — especially in light of alts’ recent lackluster performance compared to the broad stock market.
That said, Pfister tells the newspaper that alts will come screaming back into vogue the next time the market dips. And then the advisors who’re so coy with them now will wish they’d been braver.