Advisors Favoring ETFs For Alternatives

By
Cinthia Murphy
September 12, 2012
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ETFs are making inroads as a viable wrapper to access alternative investments, Cogent Research says.

 

Advisors trying to tap into alternative asset classes and strategies still prefer mutual funds to ETFs in order to do so, but that preference isn’t as prevalent as it once was, according to a study by Cogent Research.

On the contrary, the latest Alternative Investment Trends report published by Cambridge, Mass.-based Cogent Research suggested that among advisors who currently tap into alternatives, nearly a third of them expect to expand their usage of ETFs, while only 17 percent were looking to raise mutual fund allocations.

“While ETFs are gaining in popularity and garner nearly equal consideration for accessing several AI strategies, particularly long-short commodities, long-short currencies, and long-short interest, advisors overwhelmingly prefer mutual funds when accessing multi-strategy/multi-alternative strategies,” Cogent said in a press release.

But Cogent said that ETF investors who have yet to explore alternatives are twice as likely as mutual fund investors to access these asset classes in the next two years.

“Advisors continue to flock to ETFs that access alternative investments for the same reasons they seek this vehicle in traditional asset classes—cost efficiency, liquidity and transparency,” Cogent’s senior project director and study co-author Steven Sixt said in the press release.

But that’s not to say the days of mutual fund dominance among advisors allocating to alternatives are numbered. It’s simply to say the competition for investor attention between mutual funds and ETFs is heating up.

“While ETFs have strong momentum, mutual fund providers can better optimize their product development and communications strategies by focusing on the channels with the highest demand for multi-alternative asset classes, and where using ETFs to access alternative investments may be a harder sell,” Sixt said.

On the other hand, Sixt noted that among smaller investors, or “advisors with relatively smaller books of business,” ETF providers have an easier time attracting assets to their alternatives-focused funds.

The report surveyed 1,741 retail investment advisors.

 

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