By Beth Senko
Demand for emerging managers has grown for both altruistic and pure profit-making goals. From a social good standpoint, publicly-held pensions and investment funds reach out to emerging fund managers and brokerages as a way of selecting managers that represent the diversity of their beneficiaries. At the same time, investors are looking to emerging managers as a way of increasing their returns. The challenge seems to be getting the funds into the hands of the emerging managers.
An increasing number of states, municipalities and other public pensions, have emerging manager mandates. Each week, Crain’s Pensions & Investments, lists new manager searches from an array of funds. In just the past few months, funds that have added or are searching for emerging managers include: New York City Pension Fund, St. Louis Employees, Illinois Investment Board and CALPERS. According to a study by KPMG (formerly Rothstein Kass), Women In Alternative Investments: A Marathon Not a Sprint, the number of funds with emerging manager mandates continues to grow; however, implementing these mandates appears to be more of a challenge.
The study notes that most funding for women-owned-and-managed funds comes from high-net-worth individuals and family offices despite growth in the number of mandates at pensions and endowments. The study’s authors comment, “while perhaps not as speedy as some would like, diversity mandates, as well as demonstrated outperformance by women managers, are driving investors to increase allocations to women-run funds. In fact, nearly 25 percent of the investors polled for this report indicated they would increase their allocations to women-owned or-managed funds in the coming year by some margin.”
Is funding a supply problem?
In its 2013 study, Women in Alternative Investments: Building Momentum in 2013 and Beyond, the study’s authors noted that of the 366 women polled, only 5% had received emerging manager funding despite the number of mandates. That number improved somewhat in 2014’s study to 8.5%, but the study did not look at the size of that funding – suggesting that funding levels may still be quite low, even at firms receiving emerging manager funding.
At the same time, the vast majority of investors surveyed, (93%) have no mandate to invest in women-owned or –managed funds. The primary reason given was “lack of supply.”
Kelly Easterling, formerly a principal at Rothstein Kass (now part of KPMG) comments in the report, “Investors and women-owned and -managed funds are faced with an interesting dilemma of which comes first, the chicken or the egg. One of the reasons that investors are not able to invest in diversity funds is the lack of diversity funds available for investment. Without a large supply of funds, it’s difficult to achieve appropriate portfolio diversification or, for that matter, put enough money to work to move the performance dial. On the other hand, until there is more money flowing to women-owned and -managed funds, it’s unlikely that there will be a stampede of new fund launches. Unfortunately, that paradox slows the process down for both sides of the equation.”
Or a structural issue?
In our view, however, a “lack of supply” is too simplistic an answer to the gap between emerging manager mandates and funding. Differences in scale seem to be one aspect of this disconnect.
Keep reading »