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Greater governance to increase alternatives allocation

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Sixty one per cent of hedge funds in RBC Dexia Investor Services’ latest survey believe greater governance of alternative investments could result in an increased allocation to the sector, with a significant number of alternative fund launches, both on and offshore, expected in the coming months.

The poll defined governance as including structure, independent valuation, transparency and third-party control.
 
Respondents were divided on the notion that increased regulation could affect asset allocation – just over half (52 per cent) either thought it had no impact (40 per cent) or had no opinion (12 per cent). However a significant minority (30 per cent) felt that greater regulation could lead to increased allocation in alternatives, while only 18 per cent thought it would result in a decrease in allocation to the alternatives market.
 
The influence of regulation on fund domicile is crucial for the largest investment managers and ongoing regulatory change is encouraging a growing number of managers to explore a wider range of domicile options than before. As many as 92 per cent of those with assets under management of more than USD 1bn agreed that regulatory influence was important in domicile selection, as compared with only 64 per cent of those who had funds below this threshold. Just under half of the respondents (49 per cent) were planning to launch new onshore funds with as many as 40 per cent planning to launch new funds in offshore centres.
 
Greater governance was seen as more important than regulation and respondents expect it to result in an increased allocation to alternatives. When asked how they would manage a requirement for greater governance, 40 per cent responded they would hire more staff. This is compared to the 35 per cent (mainly those with assets under management less than USD1bn) that would outsource. As with greater governance comes greater cost, the smaller players will likely investigate third-party outsource solutions to satisfy this market need.
 
“The alternatives sector suffered during the recent turmoil, but our survey shows that good governance and more transparency will only increase the global appetite for these types of funds,” says Rob Wright (pictured), global head of product and client segments at RBC Dexia. “Use of a specialist service provider has gained recognition amongst hedge fund managers since the financial crisis. And it is clear that they are in a position to enable funds to develop and implement new structures in an efficient and cost-effective way.”
 
Other findings from the survey include that 60 per cent of respondents either ran or invested through managed accounts. When asked the main driver behind their managed accounts, the majority (47 per cent) mentioned liquidity. This appears to be a direct result of the recent financial crisis, as managed accounts offer greater flexibility for managers and investors in comparison with the wave of redemptions at the peak of the crisis.

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