Chairman's end-of-year letter 2017
After the tumultuous events of last year, one could be forgiven for expecting something of a hiatus this year but that has hardly been the case. International political unrest has persisted from the US through Europe and indeed in our region with the North Korea situation being basically way too close for comfort. Such uncertainty is generally good for hedge funds and certainly global trends in assets under management increases have been very positive indeed. Market behaviour, however, has broadly not factored in such risks, at least in observed volatility statistics, and has been very much one way traffic this year. While realised hedge fund returns lately have consequently been modest, I believe there is every reason to expect strong results going forward as this underlying increasingly risky world manifests itself in more risky market behaviour. Asset allocators appear to have positioned themselves for such an outcome so we look forward with interest to how that plays out.
At AIMA here in Australia, we have seen continued growth in membership to a new record and with the year nearly over have held 30 events with more than 1500 attendees overall, a busy year by any measure. Our increasingly proactive interaction with regulators has also continued apace and remains a central plank of our value proposition to members.
We have introduced several initiatives including the inaugural superannuation trustees education forum. We plan to repeat this in both Sydney and Melbourne in 2018 as it is an important interface between the industry and superannuation investors. The quality content and format of this forum owes much to our Investor Advisory Group who continue to provide insightful and relevant input to the work we do in Australia. We have also continued our successful collaboration with CAIA and the offer of a CAIA Scholarship to our membership base while Michael Gallagher is now a guest lecturer at UNSW introducing students to the world of hedge funds. This is reflective of the increased linkages we have developed with the UNSW Banking and Finance Society and the UNSW Alternative Investment Society. Other tertiary institutions will surely follow in due course.
Meanwhile AIMA outside Australia has been equally proactive and now has approximately 1900 corporate members representing USD 2 trillion in assets under management, clearly the global representative body for the industry. This year AIMA launched the Alternative Credit Council in the Asia Pacific region following on from the global launch 18 months ago and reflecting the ongoing rise and importance of alternative and private credit strategies. The Women In Finance Mentoring Programme for university students has also been strongly embraced by AIMA and its members. The AIMA industry standard Due Diligence Questionnaire (DDQ) has been updated and modularised this year while the AIMA library of sound practice guides also received a makeover. All of these publications have stood the test of time and are invaluable for members seeking to meet best practice criteria.
The 2017 Hedge Fund Forum was again a significant and successful event with Stuart Roden from Lansdowne Partners and Thomas Weber from LGT Capital Partners, participating as keynote speakers in front of a record audience. We took the bold step of introducing a dedicated operations stream into the day’s proceedings and this was really well received if the attendance and feedback forms are any indication. I say it every year but it is truly remarkable that we continue to attract the number and calibre of speakers at this event all of whom donate their time and are sourced simply through active member involvement.
Please save Wednesday September 12 2018 in your diaries for next year’s forum to be held at the Westin in Sydney during Hedge Fund “Super Week”. This represents both a change of venue and also day of week largely as a result of participant feedback in wanting the event to be closer to the Hedge Fund Awards night. We will be striving to improve again on this year’s high standards which will be a tall order but we are up for it!
Next year, we intend for it to be more of the same with modest expansion of educational initiatives along with more active engagement with our members to ensure we best reflect their interests going forward.
In conclusion, I would again like to thank both our General Manager and all the Executive Committee members, the members of the Education & Regulatory subcommittees and in particular the chairs of these subcommittees, Nikki Bentley and Craig Stanford, for all their ongoing excellent work throughout the year. Everyone has really stepped up again to help out and I can’t thank you all enough.
I’d also like to pay tribute to all the sponsors and service providers who kindly donated their time and facilities during the year. Without your generosity AIMA would not function as smoothly as it does. It goes without saying that the more active and engaged our members, volunteers and sponsors are the stronger the association and the industry is. The trend is definitely positive in this respect so I would encourage you to join what I believe to be a very rewarding journey.
In keeping with our expanding regional focus, I would again encourage those of you who might happen to be in Hong Kong early next year to attend the AIMA APAC Annual Forum at the Marriott Hong Kong on March 1. The conference has been put back this year to accommodate increased Australian participation. Further details are available on the website or feel free to contact Michael Gallagher or myself if you are interested.
I wish you all a very merry Christmas and a safe and prosperous New Year.
Chair AIMA Australia