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UBS Fund Services & PwC survey reveals institutions' changing attitudes to alternatives

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  • As institutional investors' expertise increases, they prefer to work with fewer alternative asset managers
  • Technology will play an increasingly differentiating role for alternative asset managers
  • Institutional investors perceive the bulk of new regulations as neutral; AIFMD is seen as offering a competitive advantage for EU alternative manages over non-EU counterparts

A global survey of large institutional investors* conducted by UBS Fund Services and PwC has revealed changing attitudes towards alternative investments and the impact of new regulations on the alternatives industry. 

More than half (57%) of the 44 investors interviewed plan to narrow down the number of different alternative asset managers they work with in the next 12-24 months, focusing on fewer key relationships as they gain increasing expertise in the sector. A higher proportion of institutional money in alternative asset classes is also leading to more rigorous selection of managers.

Mark Porter, Head UBS Fund Services, explained: “Institutional investors are demanding more transparency and increased liquidity from their alternative asset managers. With institutional money now accounting for 80% of the hedge fund industry, for example, they will continue seeking greater transparency over how performance is achieved and how risks are managed, leading to increased due diligence requirements for alternative managers.”

The investors surveyed were satisfied with tailored solutions provided by alternative managers and with governance, but remain concerned about operational technology, reporting, fee structures and transparency.

Mark Porter continued: “Technology will play an increasingly differentiating role for alternative asset managers, as reporting and portfolio management will have to become more sophisticated to comply with regulatory requirements. New regulations are expected to accelerate demand from investors for real-time data tools to manage risk. We expect access to portfolio-level, real-time data to become the norm.”

Looking at regulation, 83% of European insurers interviewed expect the Solvency II Directive to have negative consequences.  Its increased governance, disclosure and data requirements are leading insurers to review their alternative investment strategies. Some are changing the way they gain exposure to alternatives to lower their capital charge – for instance by replacing real estate funds with direct investments and joint ventures.  Beyond Solvency II, 75% of survey respondents judged the impact of other new regulations to be neutral. AIFMD is perceived as a potential competitive advantage for EU alternative managers in taking market share from non-EU counterparts.

Olivier Carré, Partner at PwC, observed: “The evolving regulatory environment creates opportunities for alternative managers who can be creative in offering clients solutions rather than products. Such solutions will require greater expertise in client servicing and technological acumen, thus alternative managers need to invest in staff who are capable of addressing investors’ needs.”

*Survey sample
UBS Fund Services and PwC conducted this survey in Q4, 2013.  They interviewed 44 institutional investors representing USD 1.9 trillion in assets under management. 52% of the participants were based in Europe, 39% in North America and 9% in Asia.  Most of the respondents were insurers (50%) and pension funds (39%). More than half of the participants (57%) manage over USD 10 billion of assets.

For the survey results in full and accompanying report, see Link (PDF, 1 MB)

UBS Fund Services
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