Alternative thinking Latest What Investment Guide to Alternative Investments launched

The FTSE 100 index of the UK’s largest companies, the FTSE 250 index of mid-caps and the US stock market index have all hit record highs over the past year.

 Latest What Investment Guide to Alternative Investments launched

Alternative investments are a source of income

However, many investors must be pondering whether the global economy is really in the sort of rude health required to justify those valuations.

Investors may then contemplate that the present level of global growth and the stock market highs have occurred at a time of record-low interest rates and with unprecedented waves of cash washing though the system via the suite of policies known as quantitative easing.

So given the bazookas of money that policymakers have fired into the financial system, investors may well look at financial market returns over the past three years and ask: is that it?

The impact of low interest rates has been to push down the income yield available from more traditional investments.

With valuations looking elevated in both equity and bond markets, and a cocktail of risks awaiting investors, it may be that now is the time to diversify into assets that are avowedly non-mainstream and which should perform in a way that is not correlated with the movements in other asset classes.

In this, the latest in the series of guides from What Investment magazine, we discuss with Ian Barrass, who jointly manages the Henderson Alternative Strategies Trust, how he defines an ‘alternative asset’, and where he is currently finding value.

Barrass tends to place the assets in which he invests into five sectors: specialist, specialist geography, private equity, hedge funds and property.

We hear from Barrass on where he sees opportunities in each of these sectors, and how, by combining them, he has created a portfolio that is capable of delivering uncorrelated returns.

That is not to say the fund avoids investing in equities or bonds; it is more that the types of equities and bonds in which the trust is invested are likely to be less correlated to the wider market.

We hear from the fund manager on how he is positioning the fund for the current market conditions, and how he is achieving income from the portfolio.

The trust invests in other funds, rather than directly in shares, bonds or other securities, and the fund managers have the ability to invest in different locations around the world.

The macroeconomic judgement calls that are essential to the operation of a fund such as this are made in conjunction with the wider multi-asset team at Henderson Global Investors.

The managers examine the outlook for the global economy and the markets within it, and then assess the valuations ascribed to those markets and individual asset classes.

The final step is to find funds and fund managers with investment styles that best serve the objectives of the investors in the Henderson Alternative Strategies Trust.

The guide can be downloaded from alternatives.investmentintelligence.co.uk

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