Anything not a stock, bond, or cash investment is generally considered an alternative investment. Examples of common alternative investments include hedge funds, real estate investment trusts (REITs), private placement funds, closed-end 40 Act funds, and Reg A companies seeking capital.
Like a traditional stock or bond investment, alternatives have their pros and their cons. Disadvantages include the potential for high initial fees, less liquidity, and a longer investment horizon. But alternatives also can have distinct advantages over the traditional investment market, such as lower correlation to the broader markets, tax benefits, or protection against inflation. For the right investor or financial advisor, alternative investments can be a useful tool to diversify a portfolio.
When looking to outsource due diligence, you want to be sure you are getting a complete, unbiased picture of the investment or sponsoring organization. Good questions to ask are: How does the due diligence provider work with the sponsor? What other information sources do they use? What types of experts do they employ and what are their specific areas of expertise? Finally, what time frame can you expect to see information in? A report showing a well-rounded picture of an investment has much less value if the information is out-of-date. FactRight delivers up-to-date information that can be used to guide decision-making today.
This concern is very valid. Third party due diligence is often paid for directly by product sponsors, and the users of the report (the financial service professionals who work with alternatives) receive the information for free. Regulatory agencies have historically accepted seller-funded diligence as long as it remains impartial. We believe, however, that this method may come under increased scrutiny by regulators as the financial services industry more widely adopts fiduciary standards and principals.
How does FactRight remain impartial? By scrutinizing every piece of information available. Our financial and legal experts dissect the sponsor or offering, looking specifically for gaps in information or questionable interpretations. We also bring in data from other market-relevant sources to create a holistic, unsentimental picture of the sponsor/offering.
Once factual review is complete, the sponsor is allowed to verify the accuracy of the data from an abridged draft report—one without any discussion of risks, strengths, or conclusions or recommendations. Suggestions on this material are only considered if the sponsor can provide significant supporting evidence. When the report is finalized—including our overall findings—it is published on our Report Center, to which the sponsor does not have access.
For financial services firms that are interested in requesting their own sponsor-free due diligence reviews and platform recommendations, we offer our custom FR Risk Management service.
No one can keep their eye on everything all the time. FactRight’s team of financial and legal experts are always watching and reviewing the constantly changing environment of alternative investments so that you don’t have to.
At FactRight, we specialize in understanding and explaining the complex world of alternative investments. We determine where an investment is strong or risky and explain how fluctuations in regulations or the market will affect those investments. This is all we do and we do it well. Partnering with FactRight allows you to focus on the specific needs of your business and the individualized needs of your clients.
Recent Blogs from FactRight
- What is ESG and Where is it Headed?by Julie Olsen on July 27, 2022 at 6:36 pm
- Evaluating Cap Rates Through a Due Diligence Lensby firstname.lastname@example.org (Kevin Kirkeby) on July 13, 2022 at 4:27 pm
I’m going to get this out of the way right now. I don’t know where cap rates will end this year, and certainly can’t predict where they will be in five years or in ten. What I do know is that cap rate compression has provided a notable tailwind to real estate performance for the past several years. With cap rates for most real estate sectors touching record lows during fourth quarter 2021, I also know that investors should be more closely analyzing each driver of projected investment returns and determining the margin for error embedded in each one. It seems unlikely that cap rates will be below current levels in five or ten years when investment programs currently on offer are looking for an exit.
- How Inflation and Interest Rate Increases Could Impact Real Estate-Focused Alternative Investmentsby Jeff.B@factright.com (Jeff Baumgartner) on June 28, 2022 at 4:19 pm
Inflation is running at 8.6%, and the Fed has been aggressively raising interest rates. It is now signaling that equally large rate hikes could be on the horizon as early as next month. The Fed’s dual mandate is to keep the economy at full employment while at the same time keeping inflation under control. During the time since the financial crisis of 2008, which includes the Covid-19 slowdown in 2020, the Fed’s primary focus has been on full employment (economic growth). Since 2008 we have witnessed massive government bailouts beginning with the TARP bailouts, to combat the financial crisis, and culminating with $4.6 trillion being spent through the CARES Act and other relief measures to combat the impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic. For more than a decade after the 2008 crisis, economic growth was stubbornly slow, and the pandemic did not help matters. For all the government’s efforts to grow the economy, real economic growth averaged a paltry 2.3% per year from mid-2009 through 2019, and actually contracted by 3.4% in 2020 before growing by 5.7% in 2021. Accommodative monetary policy in the form of quantitative easing, and accommodative fiscal policy in the form of government bailouts conspired to keep interest rates (the cost of borrowing money) low. Unsurprisingly, only because economic growth never really took off, inflation remained subdued. But much like waking up from a party that went on way too long, only to find silly-string on the furniture and a pizza spinning on the record player, what comes next may be sobering.
- A Guide to Understanding Proposed Changes to the QOZ Programby email@example.com (Russell Putnam) on May 25, 2022 at 5:16 pm
In 2017, Congress created the qualified opportunity zone (QOZ) program to encourage long-term investment in economically distressed communities by providing investors with three tax incentives to help drive private capital to lower-income areas throughout the country. Since then, the FactRight team of analysts has reviewed several qualified opportunity funds (QOFs) that focus on real estate development located in QOZs. Over the last year, we’ve received a number of questions from broker-dealers and RIAs regarding whether any changes to the QOZ program are on the horizon, and it looks like the answer might be yes.
- Investment Committee Best Practices for Wealth Managersby Julie Olsen on April 27, 2022 at 6:23 pm
An investment committee (IC) provides wealth management firms a formalized mechanism for improved due diligence, ongoing monitoring, and decision-making. A good IC aligns organizational goals, roles, and processes and enhances accountability, clarity of purpose, and shared knowledge among the team.