U.S. corporate defined benefit (DB) plans probably would rather forget this past winter. Significant volatility in financial assets and interest rates whipsawed these institutions just as underfunding concerns were beginning to ease early in the fourth quarter of 2018. As the pension industry weathered these challenging conditions, Cerulli sought to gauge the sentiment of mid-sized corporate DB plans—a cohort in the midst of the liability derisking trend, but without the resources of large plans—to assess how these institutions were managing through the volatile period.
Cerulli Associates, on behalf of BlackRock, conducted in-depth qualitative interviews with senior executives, finance and investment staff professionals, and investment committee and board members at 45 U.S. institutions across client segments to learn about their experiences working with an outsourced chief investment officer (OCIO) provider.
Due to the aging population of the U.S. industry’s most heavily targeted clients, developing relationships with the next generations of potential investors is paramount. This is not only important to recruiting new clients, but also to ensuring firms will retain assets during existing clients’ wealth transfers. For good reason, firms are hyper-focused on the Millennial generation, but many are overlooking Generation X.
Large asset management firms are aggressively promoting free asset allocation models, threatening to disrupt the market position of third-party strategists and turnkey asset management providers (TAMPs).
China’s asset management industry is going through a sea change, triggered by regulations focussing on financial stability and market liberalization. Probably the most far-reaching yet is the super guidance, introduced in April 2018, with the potential to alter various market segments in the coming years. Relaxation of rules on foreign ownership of financial services companies, as well as pension reforms, will also create opportunities for positive change. We examine the key market trends these reforms are igniting.
Supporting data on the availability of various distribution options is sourced from a 2017 Cerulli survey of DC plan recordkeepers, conducted in partnership with The SPARK Institute. The participant perspective is also explored, referencing data from a 2017 Cerulli survey of 401(k) plan participants related to topics considered most important when planning for retirement.
The European subadvisory market is growing rapidly, totaling approximately €485 billion (US$581 billion) at the end of 2017.
Hedge funds have come to realize that launching UCITS versions of their strategies can dramatically increase their standing--globally as well as in Europe--and the past three years have seen many enter the alternative UCITS space with great success. These new entrants, equipped with a wealth of expertise and specialist strategies, have driven up the quality and choice of UCITS funds available to investors.
Several large managed account sponsors have combined their disparate managed account products into unified advisory platforms (UAPs). This trend will alter the way asset managers and sponsors categorize and analyze the industry, and it will accelerate significant changes already happening in the managed account space.
U.S. advisors may not always be protecting their clients sufficiently from downside risk. It may be that advisors don’t understand alternate options/strategies outside of fixed income and cash to manage portfolios in down markets. Therefore, advisors need to learn alternative ways to manage downside risk for their clients. Asset managers should seize this as an opportunity.
Notwithstanding investment consultants' changing business models, Cerulli believes it will be critical for managers to remain on consultants' radars. With the persistent uncertain macro environment, institutions will be forced to look for consultants' expertise in selecting managers for sophisticated, exotic, and low-cost strategies to boost returns on their investment portfolios.
Engaging with Millennials in the U.S. has become a major strategic priority among financial services providers, but firms could be undermining their long-term opportunity with this cohort by defaulting them into unsuitable investments.
B/Ds have used the DOL Conflict of Interest Rule as pretext to cut back the number of investment products available in their systems. This compounds the secular trends of fee compression and increased competition for asset managers. Asset managers must dispassionately evaluate their existing product lines to reposition their organizations for future success.
Product partnerships are gaining traction across Asia, as fund houses wake up to the fact that they can no longer be a one-trick pony in terms of investment strategies. Having a broad suite of products matters in volatile and unpredictable markets, and is necessary to meet ever-changing investor needs. However, not all firms can excel in everything—which is where partnerships come in.
Having been reshaped significantly by various pieces of regulation over the past few years, Europe’s independent financial advisor (IFA) markets now face the implementation of MiFID II in January 2018. Many industry players and commentators are branding the updated version of the directive counterproductive, warning that it will hurt IFAs. Cerulli, however, is more positive, in keeping with our optimistic view of the industry’s long-term prospects.
The current situation for multiemployer plans (MEPs) is acute and demands immediate action. Declining MEPs need a specialized investment and asset allocation approach to their portfolios. The first benefits reductions for an individual plan were approved by the U.S. Treasury Department in late 2016. With the decline of multiemployer plans, the investments and particularly the costs incurred by plans are coming under increased scrutiny.