Capital Markets Insights

Investment Trends: Alternative Assets, M&A, & Regulatory Complexities

Understanding prevailing trends is crucial in the investment and mergers and acquisitions (M&A) landscape. A recent survey, “The 2023 Trends in Investing,”’ conducted by the Financial Planning Association (FPA), has unveiled insights into the changing dynamics of alternative investments and the state of global M&A. Additionally, research from the Alternative Investment Management Association (AIMA) sheds light on emerging trends in private credit that align with the survey findings.

Diversification in the Spotlight

One of the central themes emerging from the “2023 Trends in Investing” survey is the emphasis on diversification. Investors and financial professionals increasingly recognize the value of diversifying their portfolios with alternative investment instruments, including private equity, structured products, private debt, and more. The desire to achieve balanced and resilient portfolios that can withstand economic uncertainties is driving this trend.

The AIMA research complements this by highlighting that most capital allocated to private credit still favours strategies with little or no liquidity. However, the report suggests that demand for liquidity in private credit is rising. Many private credit fund managers are responding to this demand by developing hybrid or evergreen funds that allow new subscriptions over the fund's life while maintaining restrictions on redemptions. This shift towards more flexible structures is attractive to investors, giving them more control over their capital allocations to private credit strategies.

Balancing Optimism and Caution

Both sources emphasize the importance of balanced optimism in the investment landscape. Survey respondents expressed optimism about the future of investments, but this optimism comes with caution. While investors anticipate a sustained recovery, they do not expect a return to the frantic pace of previous years. This cautious optimism aligns with the AIMA report's findings, which point out that managers are looking to target retail investors and institutional clients.

The report notes that four in 10 private credit fund managers intend to raise capital from retail clients in upcoming fund offerings, focusing on high-net-worth investors. To appeal to retail investors, managers are exploring evergreen or hybrid fund structures, which offer more flexibility and control to investors. These structures are often attractive options for efficiently raising and deploying capital.

At Katipult, this trend points towards the need for broker-dealers to provide investor experiences that align with modern retail investor expectations, including a focus on mobile investment participation, digital portfolio tools and broader access to deals and investment.

Navigating Regulatory Complexities

Both surveys highlight the increasing complexity of regulatory landscapes. One example is the SEC's recent announcement regarding tightening regulations for private fund advisers.  In addition, regulatory bodies worldwide scrutinize M&A transactions more closely than ever. Experts expect that this heightened scrutiny will significantly impact deal sizes and structures.

In private credit, the AIMA research acknowledges the educational challenges in marketing private credit funds to investors. These challenges include explaining the funds’ return profiles, liquidity constraints, and fees. Fees, in particular, are a crucial driver of competition in the retail market, and private-credit investment strategies are typically more costly to run than traditional fixed-income strategies.

The Emergence of Cash-Flush Buyers

The emergence of cash-flush buyers is a trend to follow in the coming months and years. These buyers, whether high-net-worth individuals, corporations, or well-capitalized investment firms, have strategically positioned themselves as influential players in the financial markets. Their substantial cash reserves offer them a unique advantage and empower them to make impactful investment decisions.

The significance of cash-flush buyers lies in their ability to act swiftly when investment opportunities arise. In a world where market conditions can change rapidly, having ample liquidity provides the financial means to seize lucrative prospects without the constraints of securing external financing. This agility allows cash-flush buyers to capitalize on emerging trends, market dislocations, or distressed asset sales, positioning them at the forefront of the investment landscape.

Furthermore, cash reserves serve as a robust buffer against economic uncertainties. Financial markets are inherently volatile, and economic conditions can be unpredictable. Substantial cash provides a safety net allowing investors to weather downturns confidently. It empowers them to make strategic moves when others may be sidelined due to liquidity concerns, thereby capitalizing on market opportunities that may arise during challenging times.

Sector-Specific Investment Trends

The insights from the AIMA research and the 2023 Trends in Investing survey highlight the importance of sector-specific investment trends. These trends shed light on how different industries respond to evolving economic and societal dynamics, offering valuable insights for investors and dealmakers seeking to navigate the complex investment landscape.

One notable trend is the divergence between the technology and healthcare sectors. In the technology sector, M&A activity has seen a decline in 2023. This decline is likely due to several factors, including concerns about the valuation of tech companies, increased regulatory scrutiny of tech giants, and uncertainties surrounding future tech trends. Investors and dealmakers in this sector are cautiously approaching investments, seeking value and innovation amid a changing landscape.

Conversely, the healthcare sector is experiencing robust growth. Large pharmaceutical companies are at the forefront, making substantial acquisitions of attractive biotech targets. This growth comes from the increasing demand for healthcare innovation fuelled by an aging population and evolving healthcare needs. The healthcare sector's resilience and potential for profitability have made it an attractive destination for investors and dealmakers searching for stable and lucrative opportunities.

These sector-specific trends underscore the importance of adaptability in investment strategies. Investors must recognize that different industries respond differently to economic and societal shifts. Identifying sectors with growth potential and aligning investments with changing consumer behaviours and market demands can be instrumental in achieving investment success.

Expectations for the Future

In conclusion, the insights from the 2023 Trends in Investing survey and the AIMA research provide a valuable glimpse into the evolving investment landscape. Several key trends are shaping the investment world, including diversification, cautious optimism, regulatory complexities, the rise of cash-flush buyers, and sector-specific dynamics.

As the investment landscape continues to evolve, it is essential to emphasize the enduring importance of informed and strategic decision-making. Whether in alternative investments, mergers and acquisitions, or private credit, success hinges on adapting to changing circumstances, staying informed about regulatory developments, and identifying opportunities in evolving sectors.

The future holds challenges and opportunities, and those who navigate this dynamic landscape with foresight and agility are poised to thrive. The key takeaway is that pursuing informed and strategic decisions remains paramount for investors and dealmakers in an ever-changing world of investments.