Pure play or no way, says top French pension chief
High yield needs to be watched like milk on the stove and mixed asset funds are off limits says Hugues Fournier of Macif Gestion.
by Atholl Simpson on Oct 29, 2012 at 08:01
‘We want pure allocation and exposure to the sectors we invest in and so do not use products like mixed asset funds.’
However, when it comes to Alt Ucits funds, he recently made an exception, for a while at least.
‘We felt we were not able to judge the timing about when to go into long/short or credit arbitrage funds, so in this case we thought it best to delegate to a fund of funds manager to create a mixed product and a diversified alternative fund with a range of different strategies.’
But the change in tack was quickly reversed.
‘We are now stopping all our investments in alternative multi-manager funds,’ he says. ‘Since the end of the crisis we have struggled to find funds that offer consistent returns.’
He now only taps the Alt Ucits universe directly through the Zencap Altra and the OFI Palmares Drive funds rather than delegating selection to a third party.
The Paris-based manager works alongside two colleagues, Gilles Pécaul and Pierre Chaize, who carry out the ground work when it comes to the group’s fund selection process and currently run just under €2 billion in multi-manager assets.
'I try and play more of a referee role and pass on the guidelines for asset allocation and leave them to their work, researching and finding potential funds to invest in,’ says Fournier.
The trio have weekly meetings to discuss the performance of their current funds and any interesting managers and asset management companies they have met.
While the majority of the group’s investments are directly made into European bond markets, fund selection still plays an important role.
‘When we move out of eurozone investment grade bonds that is when we tend to select bond funds. In equities it is more radical as we will invest almost exclusively in funds.’
Groupe Macif is one of France’s largest insurers and Fournier runs a number of different portfolios for his clients, the biggest of which is for the group’s life insurance company Mutavie.
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