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The Global Alternatives Survey 2016

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Total assets managed by the top 100 alternative investment managers globally reached $3.6 trillion up 3% on the prior year, according to research produced by Willis Towers Watson. The Global Alternatives Survey, which covers ten asset classes and seven investor types, shows that of the top 100 alternative investment managers, real estate managers have the largest share of assets (34% and over $1.2 trillion), followed by hedge funds (21% and $755bn), private equity fund managers (18% and $640bn), private equity funds of funds (PEFoFs) (12% and $420bn), funds of hedge funds (FoHFs) (6% and $222bn), infrastructure (5%) and illiquid credit (5%).
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The Global Alternatives Survey 2016

  1. 1. Alternative assets 2016 An insight into the future of investing in alternatives Enter
  2. 2. Introduction.............................................................................................. 1 In this, the thirteenth year of our Global Alternatives Survey, we pause to consider what may lie ahead for alternatives investing. Executive summary.........................................................................2 Most institutional investors have increased their allocation to alternative assets, with the exception of banks and fund of funds. Top 100 alternative asset managers............................................2 Pension fund assets..............................................................................3 Insurance company assets.............................................................. 4 Sovereign wealth fund assets.........................................................5 Endowment and foundation assets............................................. 6 Fund of funds assets............................................................................7 Wealth manager assets..................................................................... 8 Bank assets.............................................................................................. 9 Asset class trends..........................................................................10 We share our views on key trends and the outlook for individual alternative asset classes. Hedge funds........................................................................................... 10 Private equity..........................................................................................12 Real estate.............................................................................................. 14 Infrastructure......................................................................................... 16 Commodities.......................................................................................... 18 Real assets............................................................................................. 20 Illiquid credit...........................................................................................22 Insurance-linked investments ......................................................24 Further information......................................................................26 Contents
  3. 3. Introduction Executive summary Top 100 alternative asset managers Pension fund assets Insurance company assets Sovereign wealth fund assets Endowment and foundation assets Fund of funds assets Wealth manager assets Bank assets Asset class trends Hedge funds Private equity Real estate Infrastructure Commodities Real assets Illiquid credit Insurance-linked investments Further information 1 The Willis Towers Watson Global Alternatives Survey 2016 This year’s Willis Towers Watson Global Alternatives Survey covers ten asset classes and seven investor types. It shows that the shift away from equities and bonds into alternatives has gained momentum among most institutional investors around the world, as these strategies have helped to manage risk through diversity. Total assets managed by the top 100 alternative investment managers globally reached $3.6 trillion – up 3% on the prior year and the research shows that institutional investors continue to focus on diversity but not at all cost. The key highlights for each asset class are covered in the following pages. For more information, see the full report or contact your usual Willis Towers Watson consultant. Contents | Home
  4. 4. 2 Introduction Executive summary Top 100 alternative asset managers Pension fund assets Insurance company assets Sovereign wealth fund assets Endowment and foundation assets Fund of funds assets Wealth manager assets Bank assets Asset class trends Hedge funds Private equity Real estate Infrastructure Commodities Real assets Illiquid credit Insurance-linked investments Further information ƒƒ The top 100 alternative asset managers, ranked by total AuM, managed USD 3,614.7 billion on behalf of their investors in 2015 compared to USD 3,501.1 billion in 2014. ƒƒ The largest block of alternative assets is managed in direct real estate funds followed by direct hedge funds, direct private equity funds, private equity fund of funds, funds of hedge funds, illiquid credit and direct infrastructure funds. There were no real assets, direct commodities or insurance-linked investments fund managers among the top 100 ranking by total AuM. ƒƒ Pension funds are the largest investors in alternative assets (34%) among the top 100 alternative asset managers, followed by wealth managers, insurance companies, sovereign wealth funds, endowments and foundations, fund of funds and banks. ƒƒ In terms of where the assets are invested, North America (50%) accounts for the largest amount of alternative assets, followed by Europe (37%) and Asia Pacific (8%). Executive summary Top 100 alternative asset managers Contents | Home
  5. 5. 3 Introduction Executive summary Top 100 alternative asset managers Pension fund assets Insurance company assets Sovereign wealth fund assets Endowment and foundation assets Fund of funds assets Wealth manager assets Bank assets Asset class trends Hedge funds Private equity Real estate Infrastructure Commodities Real assets Illiquid credit Insurance-linked investments Further information Top 100 alternative asset managers by pension fund assets ƒƒ Pension fund assets managed by the top 100 alternative asset managers in the sector amount to USD 1,492.8 billion in 2015. This represents 53% of their total AuM (USD 2,801.2 billion). ƒƒ Direct real estate funds remain the most popular alternative asset for pension funds (40% of assets) with five such managers in the top ten. They are followed in popularity by private equity fund of funds, direct hedge funds, direct private equity funds, direct infrastructure funds, funds of hedge funds and illiquid credit. ƒƒ Real assets and insurance-linked investments have smaller allocations relative to the other asset classes, while there are no direct commodities among the top 100 ranking. Executive summary Top 100 Average Smallest Largest USD million Pension fund assets 14,928.30 6,220.20 60,840.10 Total assets 28,012.00 7,360.60 95,041.10 Overall ranking Average Total AuM No. of managers Pension fund assets 4,221.90 2,106,749.30 499 Contents | Home
  6. 6. 4 Introduction Executive summary Top 100 alternative asset managers Pension fund assets Insurance company assets Sovereign wealth fund assets Endowment and foundation assets Fund of funds assets Wealth manager assets Bank assets Asset class trends Hedge funds Private equity Real estate Infrastructure Commodities Real assets Illiquid credit Insurance-linked investments Further information Top 25 alternative asset managers by insurance company assets ƒƒ Insurance company assets managed by the top 25 managers in the sector amounted to USD 304.4 billion in 2015. ƒƒ Direct real estate funds represent the largest block of alternative assets for insurance companies (nearly 57%) followed by illiquid credit, private equity fund of funds, direct infrastructure funds, funds of hedge funds and direct private equity funds. ƒƒ In this dataset, there were no investments in direct commodities funds, real assets, direct hedge funds and insurance-linked investments by insurance companies. Executive summary Top 25 Average Smallest Largest USD million Insurance company assets 12,175.10 4,505.00 37,582.80 Total assets 34,556.60 5,588.00 95,041.10 Overall ranking Average Total AuM No. of managers Insurance company assets 1,399.30 530,350.60 379 Contents | Home
  7. 7. 5 Introduction Executive summary Top 100 alternative asset managers Pension fund assets Insurance company assets Sovereign wealth fund assets Endowment and foundation assets Fund of funds assets Wealth manager assets Bank assets Asset class trends Hedge funds Private equity Real estate Infrastructure Commodities Real assets Illiquid credit Insurance-linked investments Further information Top 25 alternative asset managers by sovereign wealth fund assets ƒƒ Sovereign wealth fund assets managed by the top 25 alternative asset managers amounted to USD 173.1 billion in 2015. ƒƒ Direct real estate funds and direct private equity funds have the largest share of sovereign wealth fund assets with 30% and 24% respectively, followed by direct hedge funds, funds of hedge funds, direct infrastructure funds, private equity fund of funds and real assets. ƒƒ Sovereign wealth funds continued to shun direct commodities funds, illiquid credit and insurance-linked investments in our group. Executive summary Top 25 Average Smallest Largest USD million Sovereign wealth fund assets 6,922.50 4,104.00 16,966.50 Total assets 42,150.40 5,100.00 95,041.10 Overall ranking Average Total AuM No. of managers Sovereign wealth fund assets 1,266.80 343,312.90 271 Contents | Home
  8. 8. 6 Introduction Executive summary Top 100 alternative asset managers Pension fund assets Insurance company assets Sovereign wealth fund assets Endowment and foundation assets Fund of funds assets Wealth manager assets Bank assets Asset class trends Hedge funds Private equity Real estate Infrastructure Commodities Real assets Illiquid credit Insurance-linked investments Further information Top 25 alternative asset managers by endowment and foundation assets ƒƒ Endowment and foundation assets managed by the top 25 managers amounted to USD 87.1 billion in 2015. ƒƒ Of the alternative asset classes surveyed, endowment and foundation assets are the most evenly distributed: direct hedge funds have the largest allocation, followed closely by direct private equity funds. Next in order are funds of hedge funds, direct real estate and private equity fund of funds. ƒƒ Illiquid credit have the lowest allocation from endowments and foundations, and there are no allocations to direct commodities funds, direct infrastructure funds, real assets or insurance-linked investments in this group. Executive summary Top 25 Average Smallest Largest USD million Endowment and foundation assets 3,485.50 2,112.10 7,750.80 Total assets 28,880.00 5,237.00 88,001.10 Overall ranking Average Total AuM No. of managers Endowment and foundation assets 543.8 201,201.40 370 Contents | Home
  9. 9. 7 Introduction Executive summary Top 100 alternative asset managers Pension fund assets Insurance company assets Sovereign wealth fund assets Endowment and foundation assets Fund of funds assets Wealth manager assets Bank assets Asset class trends Hedge funds Private equity Real estate Infrastructure Commodities Real assets Illiquid credit Insurance-linked investments Further information Top 25 alternative asset managers by fund of funds assets ƒƒ Fund of funds assets managed by the top 25 fund managers amounted to USD 88.8 billion in 2015. ƒƒ Direct private equity funds and direct hedge funds made up the majority of fund of funds assets. Fund of funds also allocated to illiquid credit and direct real estate funds in smaller amounts. ƒƒ There were no allocations to direct commodities funds, direct infrastructure funds, real assets and insurance-linked investments in this group. Executive summary Top 25 Average Smallest Largest USD million Fund of funds assets 3,553.00 1,677.40 8,660.00 Total assets 24,862.60 6,157.00 88,001.10 Overall ranking Average Total AuM No. of managers Fund of funds assets 689 179,130.80 260 Contents | Home
  10. 10. 8 Introduction Executive summary Top 100 alternative asset managers Pension fund assets Insurance company assets Sovereign wealth fund assets Endowment and foundation assets Fund of funds assets Wealth manager assets Bank assets Asset class trends Hedge funds Private equity Real estate Infrastructure Commodities Real assets Illiquid credit Insurance-linked investments Further information Top 25 alternative asset managers by wealth manager assets ƒƒ Wealth management assets managed by the top 25 fund managers amounted to USD 475.6 billion in 2015. ƒƒ Direct real estate funds are the most popular alternative assets for wealth management firms followed by direct hedge funds, funds of hedge funds, direct private equity funds, private equity fund of funds and direct infrastructure funds. ƒƒ There were no wealth manager investments in real assets, direct commodities funds, illiquid credit and insurance-linked investments in this group. Executive summary Top 25 Average Smallest Largest USD million Wealth manager assets 19,024.20 11,800.00 31,260.30 Total assets 43,706.40 13,606.40 95,041.10 Overall ranking Average Total AuM No. of managers Wealth manager assets 2,650.00 1,152,734.90 435 Contents | Home
  11. 11. 9 Introduction Executive summary Top 100 alternative asset managers Pension fund assets Insurance company assets Sovereign wealth fund assets Endowment and foundation assets Fund of funds assets Wealth manager assets Bank assets Asset class trends Hedge funds Private equity Real estate Infrastructure Commodities Real assets Illiquid credit Insurance-linked investments Further information Top 25 alternative asset managers by bank assets ƒƒ Bank assets managed by the top 25 managers amounted to USD 100.0 billion in 2015. ƒƒ Bank assets are mostly allocated to direct real estate funds and funds of hedge funds, followed by illiquid credit, private equity fund of funds, direct hedge funds, direct infrastructure funds and direct private equity funds. ƒƒ There were no direct commodities funds, real assets, nor insurance-linked investments managers in this group. Executive summary Top 25 Average Smallest Largest USD million Bank assets 4,001.80 1,466.00 8,159.10 Total assets 27,506.20 2,462.00 95,041.10 Overall ranking Average Total AuM No. of managers Bank assets 618.2 163,819.10 265 Contents | Home
  12. 12. 10 Introduction Executive summary Top 100 alternative asset managers Pension fund assets Insurance company assets Sovereign wealth fund assets Endowment and foundation assets Fund of funds assets Wealth manager assets Bank assets Asset class trends Hedge funds Private equity Real estate Infrastructure Commodities Real assets Illiquid credit Insurance-linked investments Further information Asset class trends: The evolving hedge fund landscape Recent returns have been disappointing leading to some redemption pressure, but overall we believe this is healthy for the industry. The focus by investors on diversity and value for money will continue to dominate, and facilitating this effort is the recognition that ‘hedge funds’ are not an asset class. There are diversifying return drivers that are best sourced outside of the traditional hedge fund structure and for fees that are much less – commonly referred to as alternative beta strategies and include strategies such as reinsurance, carry, value, and merger arbitrage. However, given the rapid growth in this emerging space, there is some risk of crowding, and investors who do not fully understand the risks of investing here should work with an advisor or outsource. This is especially important among the quantitative and factor-based strategies, many of which carry left-tail risks and are managed using an antiquated or less differentiated approach. Further, while they are called alternative ‘beta’ strategies, there usually is some element of manager skill necessary despite the mechanical approach to implementation – for instance in screening, sourcing, modelling, risk management and execution. In terms of alpha-seeking managers – that bar is high but there are definitely good opportunities for skillful managers; managers must be able to prove they can add both diversity and incremental returns. Importantly, investors and consultants need to recognise the importance of alpha diversity when building portfolios now more than ever; if not done correctly they can indirectly be making outsized ‘bets’ on factors such as style, sector and capitalisation – which affected a number of investors and equity long/short managers in 1Q 2016. Contents | Home Future outlook
  13. 13. 11 Introduction Executive summary Top 100 alternative asset managers Pension fund assets Insurance company assets Sovereign wealth fund assets Endowment and foundation assets Fund of funds assets Wealth manager assets Bank assets Asset class trends Hedge funds Private equity Real estate Infrastructure Commodities Real assets Illiquid credit Insurance-linked investments Further information The future outlook for hedge funds While there have been performance headwinds for hedge funds, the need for diversity away from traditional equities is the strongest it has been in several years in our opinion. Hedge funds and alternative beta strategies, which can be broadly categorised as liquid alternatives, are uniquely equipped to deliver returns while helping investors mitigate downside risks. While we anticipate that some capital will be withdrawn from the industry, especially the hedge fund of funds industry given the high fees traditionally charged by these organisations, overall we continue to see value to be had if done correctly, and we are advising our clients to increase their allocations generally. Industry wide, we anticipate continued growth in alternative beta strategies and assets, perhaps offsetting any redemptions from alpha-seeking managers who have struggled to perform. Contents | Home
  14. 14. 12 Introduction Executive summary Top 100 alternative asset managers Pension fund assets Insurance company assets Sovereign wealth fund assets Endowment and foundation assets Fund of funds assets Wealth manager assets Bank assets Asset class trends Hedge funds Private equity Real estate Infrastructure Commodities Real assets Illiquid credit Insurance-linked investments Further information Asset class trends: The evolving private equity landscape Fundraising in private equity is buoyant off the heels of three years of very strong distributions and with investors looking for alpha after other asset classes of late have not delivered on generating excess returns. The market had been somewhat bifurcated with those managers boasting exceptional short- and long-term track records raising capital particularly quickly while others took longer to secure capital. However, this trend has been less prevalent recently with the fund-raising tailwind meaning most institutional quality managers have been able to raise capital, especially in the larger end of the market. With all this influx of capital and cheap financing with little to no covenants, pricing both in the US and Europe are at or near all-time highs though deal flow for both markets have cooled given the pricing. Meticulous selectivity with managers who have proven discipline in prior cycles and have a range of skills to bring to bear on their portfolio companies will become critical in the next phase of the cycle. The secondary market continues to mature and grow in prominence, increasing the liquidity of the asset class though pricing has come down a bit since the highs of last year. This has been due more towards public market sentiment rather than a drastic change in supply and demand. Contents | Home Future outlook
  15. 15. 13 Introduction Executive summary Top 100 alternative asset managers Pension fund assets Insurance company assets Sovereign wealth fund assets Endowment and foundation assets Fund of funds assets Wealth manager assets Bank assets Asset class trends Hedge funds Private equity Real estate Infrastructure Commodities Real assets Illiquid credit Insurance-linked investments Further information The future outlook for private equity Last year we noted that the pressure on fees will be volatile and tends to be inversely correlated with positive market sentiment and indeed that has been the case with some managers getting terms that were very manager friendly. However, we expect continued downward pressure on fees over the long term. Part of that pressure will be from the ongoing dis-intermediation story in private equity with large asset owners doing deals themselves or at the very least investing in funds directly without the need of a fund of funds. For fund of fund managers, they have been moving more towards separate accounts and away from commingled funds. Going forward, we would expect to see more development in customised portfolios for investors, especially from the larger managers who have created asset management business instead of pure play private equity ones. For private equity managers in the small and mid-market space, we expect more of the same with those managers providing exposure through commingled funds with some co-investment opportunities. Contents | Home
  16. 16. 14 Introduction Executive summary Top 100 alternative asset managers Pension fund assets Insurance company assets Sovereign wealth fund assets Endowment and foundation assets Fund of funds assets Wealth manager assets Bank assets Asset class trends Hedge funds Private equity Real estate Infrastructure Commodities Real assets Illiquid credit Insurance-linked investments Further information Asset class trends: The evolving real estate landscape Real estate markets have continued to perform strongly driven by investors’ desire for attractive yields in a low (or in some cases negative) bond-yield environment and, in many markets, healthy rental growth. In many ways it feels like 2007. Double-digit returns, transaction volumes at multi-year highs, yields reaching multi-year lows, debt costs at ever lower levels on higher loan-to-value terms, regional (non-gateway) locations seeing increased investor interest, speculative development starting to re-emerge and fund raising breaking records in terms of speed and size. We have also seen a growing trend of private real estate funds acquiring listed property companies, a trend which we last saw emerge at the previous peak in markets. This being said, unlike 2007, the property yield spread relative to long-term government bonds shows a healthy spread, which provides some investor comfort. Further, much of continental Europe hasn’t seen as much of the rally in recent years and appears some way from peak-cycle behaviours. Listed property companies in aggregate are trading at higher relative valuations to long-run averages. However, there are some notable exceptions such as the UK, where the listed market appears to be more pessimistic relative to the unlisted market around Brexit fears, and the Hong Kong market where stock market pricing appears to be taking a more negative view of a Chinese slowdown compared to unlisted markets. Long-lease property strategies in Europe have continued to see interest from de-risking pension funds given the expected return differential relative to bonds. In many regions around the world we are seeing growing interest in alternative property sectors such as healthcare, storage, student assets or the Private Rented Sector (PRS) in the UK. Strategically, the addition of these alternative sectors generally helps diversify against the cyclicality of offices which can often be a disproportional contributor to risk in portfolios. Contents | Home Future outlook
  17. 17. 15 Introduction Executive summary Top 100 alternative asset managers Pension fund assets Insurance company assets Sovereign wealth fund assets Endowment and foundation assets Fund of funds assets Wealth manager assets Bank assets Asset class trends Hedge funds Private equity Real estate Infrastructure Commodities Real assets Illiquid credit Insurance-linked investments Further information The future outlook for real estate Despite real estate in many regions looking attractive relative to bonds, we believe investors should be more patient and selective when investing new real estate allocations at the current time. We believe US and UK markets are at higher points in their real estate cycles, meaning one needs to be increasingly cautious of higher-risk property strategies, particularly those using high levels of debt. The continental European market appears further away from peak cycle. Despite its economic issues, with low (or negative) interest rates, property looks reasonably supported as long as prolonged deflation can be avoided. Emerging market property markets have been weak and although near-term catalysts remain uncertain, there could be attractive entry points for long-term investments in certain sectors. We believe future demand for long-lease property strategy is likely to persist as long as bond yields remain low. The ability to source attractive assets however is becoming more difficult and so subscription queues for such strategies may well increase. We expect greater defensiveness from certain property sectors more aligned with thematic tailwinds such as student assets (growing emerging market wealth), property healthcare (demographics), logistics (e-commerce) and residential/storage (urbanisation). Contents | Home
  18. 18. 16 Introduction Executive summary Top 100 alternative asset managers Pension fund assets Insurance company assets Sovereign wealth fund assets Endowment and foundation assets Fund of funds assets Wealth manager assets Bank assets Asset class trends Hedge funds Private equity Real estate Infrastructure Commodities Real assets Illiquid credit Insurance-linked investments Further information Asset class trends: The evolving infrastructure landscape Deployment by institutional investors into the infrastructure asset class has increased again. As can be seen elsewhere in the investment universe, there is a trend for the more successful funds to increase in size, sometimes quite substantially. On the other hand, a significant number of funds which were among the early closed-ended fund offerings are reaching the end of their lives and are finding that the future looks uncertain. This is driving activity around extensions, stapled offerings, and so on. As the industry has matured, better discipline can be seen by the manager universe regarding deal selection and pricing as well as asset management. It is in the area of fund size and terms where there is a lot more work to be done although progress here can also be identified. The trend of large institutional investors seeking to access deals directly continues in the infrastructure space which makes sense given the size of assets which are available in this asset class. We are also seeing governments becoming more vocal and active in attempting to encourage institutional investors to invest in infrastructure in their jurisdictions. Contents | Home Future outlook
  19. 19. 17 Introduction Executive summary Top 100 alternative asset managers Pension fund assets Insurance company assets Sovereign wealth fund assets Endowment and foundation assets Fund of funds assets Wealth manager assets Bank assets Asset class trends Hedge funds Private equity Real estate Infrastructure Commodities Real assets Illiquid credit Insurance-linked investments Further information The future outlook for infrastructure The increased institutional investor interest in infrastructure investments has both cyclical and structural aspects. Cyclically investors are facing an uncertain economic outlook and are seeking opportunities to diversify risks and return drivers. Structurally almost all institutions are either not yet invested in infrastructure or are below their target allocation. Despite the headlines which suggest that investor demand is outpacing supply and therefore driving up asset prices, the reality is that the requirement for private investment in infrastructure is immense in all geographic regions. We will continue to see managers develop in order to capture these opportunities through more engagement with stakeholders (governments, regulators, communities), possibly more specialisation and definitely a higher appreciation of the asset management skills required to manage the risks inherent in an infrastructure portfolio. We will also continue to see the range of implementation options for investors increase beyond the traditional private equity-like pooled fund model and the in-house direct investment model. Contents | Home
  20. 20. 18 Introduction Executive summary Top 100 alternative asset managers Pension fund assets Insurance company assets Sovereign wealth fund assets Endowment and foundation assets Fund of funds assets Wealth manager assets Bank assets Asset class trends Hedge funds Private equity Real estate Infrastructure Commodities Real assets Illiquid credit Insurance-linked investments Further information Asset class trends: The evolving commodities landscape Increased volatility and a weakening in some of the major commodity markets – led by the energy sector in particular – reduced investor confidence in 2015. A general trend of net outflows has persisted in the industry, while performance has struggled since 2011. Recent years have also seen several big managers exit the space. Although investors do still seek commodity exposure within their diversifying portfolios, the asset class has been de-emphasised relative to its heightened popularity in the early 2000s when strong performance attracted investors into the space. While we do not encourage investors to chase returns, it remains that commodities face an uncertain outlook over the coming years and this is being reflected in investor preference. Contents | Home Future outlook
  21. 21. 19 Introduction Executive summary Top 100 alternative asset managers Pension fund assets Insurance company assets Sovereign wealth fund assets Endowment and foundation assets Fund of funds assets Wealth manager assets Bank assets Asset class trends Hedge funds Private equity Real estate Infrastructure Commodities Real assets Illiquid credit Insurance-linked investments Further information The future outlook for commodities Our medium-term view on commodities remains neutral. Our outlook is primarily driven by energy, due to its high weighting in the major commodities indices, DJ UBS and SP GSC. Whilst oil markets have begun the process of rebalancing, political decisions, Iran’s re-entrance into the oil market and declining costs of extraction have factored into our market outlook. These conditions are currently offsetting moderate demand increases and we predict that oversupply conditions will persist at least until the end of 2016. Over the medium term we believe the forward curve represents a reasonable outlook for medium-term oil prices. In the other extractive resources, whilst there are idiosyncratic factors, the shift in China’s economy from a resource-driven, investment-led economy towards consumer-based economic growth has led to a downward pressure on prices for many industrial metals. Copper and aluminium prices bottomed at the beginning of the year, but are yet to undergo a durable recovery (in an absolute sense), we remain cautious over the medium-term outlook for these metals. Contents | Home
  22. 22. 20 Introduction Executive summary Top 100 alternative asset managers Pension fund assets Insurance company assets Sovereign wealth fund assets Endowment and foundation assets Fund of funds assets Wealth manager assets Bank assets Asset class trends Hedge funds Private equity Real estate Infrastructure Commodities Real assets Illiquid credit Insurance-linked investments Further information Asset class trends: The evolving real assets landscape Real assets are experiencing increased investor interest for their diversification benefits in a world where the economic outlook is mostly uninspiring. New managers and strategies continue to appear on a regular basis. In agriculture, substantial allocations have been made by a range of institutional investors. Managers are beginning to look beyond land-only strategies to also focus on how supply-chain initiatives can help boost returns and dampen volatility. We have also seen the appearance of a few water strategies which is a popular theme with investors. The timberland market seems to have flattened somewhat which may not be surprising given that it is the most mature area of real assets. And finally, there are a large number of managers seeking to exploit the opportunity in the mining sector caused by the lack of access to traditional sources of finance, banks and the public equity markets. Contents | Home Future outlook
  23. 23. 21 Introduction Executive summary Top 100 alternative asset managers Pension fund assets Insurance company assets Sovereign wealth fund assets Endowment and foundation assets Fund of funds assets Wealth manager assets Bank assets Asset class trends Hedge funds Private equity Real estate Infrastructure Commodities Real assets Illiquid credit Insurance-linked investments Further information The future outlook for real assets Investments by institutional investors in real assets is still at a very nascent stage despite the ever increasing amount of interest. As the asset class matures, we expect it to follow the trajectories of the real estate and infrastructure sectors. We are seeing a wider range of strategies, vehicles and alignment structures being introduced into the market. This is a natural part of the development of the asset class and should enable more institutions to find implementation routes which suit them. In the key agricultural markets of the US and Brazil, dampening prices and a more attractive entry level from a currency perspective could drive an uptick in interest in those two regions respectively. However, in the short term the pressure on US farmland prices seems to be causing a certain amount of nervousness in the market. Timberland managers will continue to develop their capabilities outside of the US which will enable investors to access an opportunity set which is at a more interesting stage of development than the one in the US. We are likely to continue to see new strategies emerge which are related to water and other environmental or sustainability themes. Contents | Home
  24. 24. 22 Introduction Executive summary Top 100 alternative asset managers Pension fund assets Insurance company assets Sovereign wealth fund assets Endowment and foundation assets Fund of funds assets Wealth manager assets Bank assets Asset class trends Hedge funds Private equity Real estate Infrastructure Commodities Real assets Illiquid credit Insurance-linked investments Further information Asset class trends: The evolving illiquid credit landscape The illiquid credit category is inclusive of all closed-end funds with a predominant focus on credit, with the most common being private debt (for example direct lending, commercial real estate debt, mezzanine, and so on) and distressed debt. The key trend has been the continued growth of the institutional lending landscape, with numerous new funds being raised globally, and increasing interest in private debt strategies by investors globally. We expect this trend to continue.  Investor appetite also continues apace as investors consider taking on both greater illiquidity and risk in their credit portfolios to compensate for lower yields in public markets. Additionally, investors appear ever more comfortable allocating to specialist strategies, recognising that the private debt space is becoming a much more varied marketplace. There are some concerns that, as competition has increased in some markets, yields are not always offering sufficient compensation for the illiquidity and risk being assumed. So we would urge caution when reviewing private debt strategies today. Regarding distressed debt, volatility in commodity markets in 2015 and continuing into 2016 has seen a resumption of interest in that asset class, with defaults predicted to rise. Whether this remains specific to metals, mining, oil and gas or is the start of a broader pick up in defaults remains to be seen. Contents | Home Future outlook
  25. 25. 23 Introduction Executive summary Top 100 alternative asset managers Pension fund assets Insurance company assets Sovereign wealth fund assets Endowment and foundation assets Fund of funds assets Wealth manager assets Bank assets Asset class trends Hedge funds Private equity Real estate Infrastructure Commodities Real assets Illiquid credit Insurance-linked investments Further information The future outlook for illiquid credit We expect that demand for private-debt strategies will remain high, particularly for those asset classes offering floating-rate yields. Some asset classes will, however, become less attractive as ever more institutional capital flows into the asset class. We would also expect that more specialist strategies will attract greater interest. Contents | Home
  26. 26. 24 Introduction Executive summary Top 100 alternative asset managers Pension fund assets Insurance company assets Sovereign wealth fund assets Endowment and foundation assets Fund of funds assets Wealth manager assets Bank assets Asset class trends Hedge funds Private equity Real estate Infrastructure Commodities Real assets Illiquid credit Insurance-linked investments Further information Asset class trends: The evolving insurance-linked investments landscape Institutional investors continue to allocate to Insurance-Linked Investments (ILI) in order to build diversity into portfolios. The greater acceptance of ILI by pension funds in particular has led to increasing inflows into the asset class, which in turn has led some industry observers commenting that the flow of pension investments are only temporary and that the funds will flow back out following a large natural catastrophe loss or an increase in interest rates. We believe that most of the institutional allocations in recent years were made for strategic reasons and that the institutional demand for ILI is here to stay. Contents | Home Future outlook
  27. 27. 25 Introduction Executive summary Top 100 alternative asset managers Pension fund assets Insurance company assets Sovereign wealth fund assets Endowment and foundation assets Fund of funds assets Wealth manager assets Bank assets Asset class trends Hedge funds Private equity Real estate Infrastructure Commodities Real assets Illiquid credit Insurance-linked investments Further information The future outlook for insurance-linked investments The premiums for catastrophe reinsurance have been coming down in recent years. This has been a result of not just the inflow of institutional capital, but moreover as a result of the limited natural catastrophe losses in recent years which has led to reinsurance companies having stronger balance sheets and having less need to transfer certain risks as a result. That said, we have seen premiums stabilise in recent renewal seasons and expect this to continue over the next 12 months. ILI funds targeting higher returns, have seen increased competition and capacity constraints as a result of the broader ‘chase for yield’. On the flip side, the ILI funds targeting more remote and lower-risk events are likely to continue to generate an attractive risk-reward ratio, as competition in this segment of the market is less given the high-return requirements of the traditional reinsurance companies (who have a higher cost of capital). Further the larger and well-managed funds are expected to outperform their smaller rivals, by using their economies of scale to cut out costs and source the most attractive deals. We expect managers that have been selling overpriced ILI beta to come under pressure, with the more innovative and well-resourced managers continuing the flourish. Contents | Home
  28. 28. 26 Introduction Executive summary Top 100 alternative asset managers Pension fund assets Insurance company assets Sovereign wealth fund assets Endowment and foundation assets Fund of funds assets Wealth manager assets Bank assets Asset class trends Hedge funds Private equity Real estate Infrastructure Commodities Real assets Illiquid credit Insurance-linked investments Further information Further information For further information on the Global Alternatives Survey, contact your usual Willis Towers Watson consultant or Andrew Middlemass +44 (0) 20 7170 2930 andrew.middlemass@willistowerswatson.com Contents | Home
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