Category Archives: Hedge Fund

The lure and risks of “alternative investments.”

The financial world has been deluged marketing offers from investment firms offering “alternative investments.” “Alts” are non-traditional investments.  They include non-traded REITs, hedge funds and private equity.

The lure of “alts” is summarized in a quote from Financial IQ:

“The 2008 financial crisis scarred investors enough that they’re still seeking new ways to diversify out of stocks and bonds. Meanwhile, investors also are hungry for yield amid persistently low interest rates.”

The problem with “alts” is that they are not well understood.

Many are not liquid – in other words they cannot be sold at a moment’s notice.

In addition, most are not transparent – you can’t always tell what you own because the “alts” managers are secretive, unwilling to reveal their strategy in detail.

Third, the fees charged by “alts” managers are often much higher than those charged by traditional managers.

Many of the “alts” use derivatives which are difficult to understand and can lead to risks that are not obvious. An example are the “guaranteed” structured notes created prior to 2008. When Lehman Brothers collapsed it was revealed that the “guaranteed” notes issued by Lehman were backed by the claims paying ability of a bankrupt company.  People lost millions and learned a painful lesson.

Our philosophy is to invest our money in securities we understand. We always want to know: what’s the worst thing that can happen? If we don’t understand the risk, we don’t invest.  It’s a lesson learned over the years as we keep in mind the first rule of making money:  don’t lose it.

Tagged , , , , , , ,

Would you invest with a billionaire hedge fund manager who made a fortune during the housing crisis?

Watch out.

Many people would jump at the chance and many wealthy people have given John Paulson lots of money to invest for them.

But there’s a downside to trying to get rich via the stock market. The people who “swing for the fences” often strike out.

We found this article in Private Wealth an excellent illustration of this point.

Billionaire John Paulson posted the second-worst trading year of his career in 2014 as a wrong-way energy bet added to declines tied to a failed merger and investments in Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.

The worst performance was in the Advantage Plus fund, which plummeted 36 percent last year, two people with knowledge of the returns said. …

Paulson & Co.’s performance placed it near the bottom of the hedge fund pack last year as the industry returned a meager 1.4 percent. The manager, who shot to fame after making $15 billion on the housing crisis in 2007, has struggled to regain its footing since 2011 when bets on the U.S. recovery went awry, losing money in all of its main strategies — including a 51 percent tumble in the Advantage Plus fund. Paulson also lost money in investments tied to gold and Europe’s economy, causing assets to dwindle to $19 billion, half the peak in 2011 ….…

Investors in the Advantage fund have lost 48 percent since the end of 2010, while clients in Advantage Plus are down more than 66 percent. ….

At Korving & Company, we are fiduciaries, Paulson is not.  He’s a hedge fund manager who makes big bets.  We don’t bet, we invest.

We manage retirement money. People nearing retirement don’t want to see the money they are saving cut in half. That could force them to work years longer than they planned. People in retirement who saw their savings plummet would have no choice but to reduce their lifestyle.

With that in mind, we do the opposite of Paulson. Our primary directive is keeping what we have and making a fair rate of return on that money by a carefully thought out process of diversification.

Realizing that even the smartest or luckiest investors – like Paulson – can be wrong, we focus on picking good funds but making sure that if any of our fund managers has a bad year, our clients will not have their plans interrupted or their lifestyles affected.

To go back to our baseball analogy, we just want to get on base and do so consistently.

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
%d bloggers like this: