Aima steering committee to publish educational guide for investors

The Alternative Investment Management Association has announced that its investor steering committee is to publish what has been billed as the world's first collaborative educational guide for hedge fund investors. Publication is expected to be in the second quarter of this year.

The guide, which is being developed with the Chartered Alternative Investment Analyst Association, will be written by Alexander Ineichen, senior investment officer at UBS Asset Management, supported by portfolio manager Kurt Silberstein of the California Public Employees' Retirement System.

According to Aima, it is the first global collaborative effort between investors and the hedge fund industry, and will provide access to meaningful and practical information on the nature and activities of the hedge fund industry, including hedge fund strategies, performance data, investment processes, and industry and business dynamics.

The guide will be aimed at intermediate level investors such as fiduciaries, investment consultants and trustees, and seeks to complement a report on best practice for basic level investors that is due to be published in the US by the investor committee of the President's Working Group on Financial Markets this month.

The Aima investor steering committee was established last July with a number of leading institutional and other investors as members. Its objective is to provide strategic and practical guidance on hedge fund industry activities to the investor community.

'The transformation of the asset management industry from a focus on relative returns towards the absolute return investment philosophy embraced by hedge funds is arguably a big deal,' Ineichen says.

'Despite the institutionalisation of the hedge fund industry being in full swing for many years, there is still misconception and myth among some institutional investors and their boards, trustees and consultants. This report will be designed to clarify what hedge funds really are and, more importantly, are not.'

Aima director Emma Mugridge says: 'We have long acknowledged that investors are a vital part of the hedge fund industry. This is the first time that they have had such a meaningful educational role to play and, importantly, the initiative also meets the recommendation of last year's Highly-Leveraged Report from the Financial Stability Forum that industry and investors work more closely to develop positive initiatives.

'It is also significant that a number of the world's leading investors will be involved in developing this guide. The investor steering committee has moved at an emphatic speed since it was created in July, and the initiative clearly demonstrates that Aima and the investor community are working closely in tandem.'

The committee members are Paul Spijkers, chief executive of ABP Investments US, Jan Straatman, chief investment officer of Axial Investment Management, Silberstein, Eric Breval, managing director of Switzerland's Fonds de Compensation AVS, Mark Taborsky, a vice-president at Harvard Management Company, François-Serge Lhabitant, chief of Kedge Capital, Vera Kupper Staub, chief investment officer of Pensionskasse Stadt Zürich, Ineichen, Gumersindo Oliveros, director of pension plan and endowments for the World Bank Pension Plan, and John Stevens, a managing director at General Motors Asset Management.

'This initiative from Aima's investor steering committee complements the work we are undertaking on behalf of investors and fiduciaries in the US,' says Russell Read, a member of the President's Working Group and a colleague of Silberstein as chief investment officer of CalPERS. 'Nonetheless, it is clear that both initiatives will only be truly worthwhile if they are accepted by, and in turn become commonplace within, the investor community at large.'

The project will complement Aima's work over the past decade on sound practices for the hedge fund industry, which including guidelines on managers, valuation, administration, governance, business continuity, due diligence for managers, prime brokers and administrators, anti-money laundering and industry certification, the latter in conjunction with the Chartered Alternative Investment Analyst Association.

The CAIA Association is non-profit organisation dedicated to promoting education and professionalism in the field of alternative investments founded in 2002 by Aima and the Isenberg School of Management's Center for International Securities and Derivatives Markets at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. The CAIA designation certifies mastery of the concepts, tools and practices essential for understanding alternative investments and promotes high standards of professional conduct.

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