Tags: Ameriprise | hedge fund | investor | retail

Ameriprise's Columbia Joins Blackstone in Retail Hedge Fund Push

Tuesday, 18 November 2014 03:54 PM

Columbia Management, which oversees more than $350 billion, is joining with Blackstone Group LP to increase retail investors’ access to hedge fund strategies.

Blackstone Alternative Asset Management agreed to research and develop an investment offering, according to a statement today from the Columbia business at Ameriprise Financial Inc. Class A shares of the mutual fund will be available to the general public with a minimum initial investment of $2,000 for most buyers, and the maximum sales charge is listed as 5.75 percent. Blackstone funds will be included as part of Columbia’s offerings, according to a prospectus.

Asset managers have been adding alternative mutual funds to win clients and generate fee revenue. The offerings use approaches traditionally employed by hedge funds, such as betting against stocks through short sales or investing in non- traditional assets, including leveraged loans and commodities. Boston-based Columbia in June hired William Landes from Gottex Fund Management Holdings Ltd. to expand specialized strategies.

“The objective is modest volatility, downside-risk protection and diversification against the other assets in the portfolio,” Landes said in an interview today. “I would argue if a category like alternatives is able to deliver that, it is applicable to anyone’s portfolio.”

Alternative mutual funds had about $158 billion at the end of October, compared with $111 billion 18 months earlier, according to Chicago-based researcher Morningstar Inc.

Blackstone’s alternatives unit is the largest investor in hedge funds, with $64 billion under management. Chief Executive Officer Steve Schwarzman said in April that individuals allocate too little to alternative assets, especially compared with institutional investors. Blackstone last year worked with Fidelity Investments on a mutual fund to wager on hedge funds, an offering that required a minimum $50,000 investment.


Larry Zimpleman, the CEO of Principal Financial Group Inc., and Apollo Global Management LLC co-founder Josh Harris have questioned whether alternatives might be too complicated for some retail investors.

“When people start talking about ETFs and liquid alts and private equity and all of that stuff, I too chuckle a little bit,” Zimpleman said in a conference call in April in response to a question about including exchange-traded funds and other options in 401(k) plans. “It’s really hard to see how that is something that can be easily explained.”

Landes said it’s up to asset managers to make sure clients understand the products.

“That complexity requires education which demystifies them,” he said. “Just because they’re complex doesn’t mean they’re not good.”

Ameriprise climbed 1 percent to $130.21 at 10:51 a.m. in New York. The Minneapolis-based company has advanced about 13 percent this year. New York-based Blackstone jumped 2 percent to $32.67, extending its gain to 3.7 percent since Dec. 31.

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Columbia Management, which oversees more than $350 billion, is joining with Blackstone Group to increase retail investors' access to hedge fund strategies.
Ameriprise, hedge fund, investor, retail
Tuesday, 18 November 2014 03:54 PM
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