The 27th-28th November saw the launch of another Citywire first, the inaugural Smart Beta Retreat. Top fund groups providing passive investments had the chance to speak with some of the UK's top wealth managers and advisors during a day and a half of workshop sessions and networking opportunities, with some added insight from three keynote speakers as well.
Delegates began to arrive at the Four Seasons Hotel in Hampshire from 9 o'clock on the Tuesday morning, and once registered had the chance to grab some breakfast and coffee whilst meeting their peers who were also in attendance. Before long our group of investors filtered into the main conference room and took their places to listen to a talk from Russell Napier, investment guru and author of Anatomy of a Bear. A historical economist, Napier used trends ranging back to the nineteenth century to explain his bearish outlook on the global economy, as well as other significant factors such as an emerging market situation that may not provide as much value as once thought.
Hopefully not too discouraged by the gloomy outlook, delegates had the uplifting prospect of intimate dialogue with some of the country's top fund providers straight after, and the first three workshops were completed in the run up to lunch.
After a feed and discussion about the morning's work, delegates were treated to a talk from Hamish McRae, economist and futurist. He gave a slightly more upbeat presentation on the future of the economy, saying that normality should be restored in 5-10 years, with interest rates increasing to 2-3 per cent within 5 years. Differing perspectives on the state of the global economy were given by our first two speakers, but both came to the same conclusion that in order to achieve recovery, financial repression was required rather than extremes such as austerity or over-stimulative policy.
Wednesday morning came around after a brilliant evening of food and drink and the conference room was full as people took their seats to listen to Michael Portillo. The 'former potential Prime Minister', as he said he is referred to as now amongst the Conservative ranks, gave his views on some of the most significant global political situations, touching on Europe and the recent Presidential Election in the United States. An entertaining awakening session readied delegates for the home run, two final workshops and the opportunity to discuss the ins and outs of the products on view with their respective managers.
The event was wrapped up with a short video summary, and after a buffet lunch delegates then had the choice of heading back to the office or joining the team for some clay pigeon shooting. The day and a half was a great success and a productive event for investors searching for beta in this volatile environment.