Delphine Amzallag, ABN AMRO

Investor focus sharpens further as ABN AMRO opens AIF 2020 event registration


Next year marks the ninth edition of ABN AMRO Clearing’s Amsterdam Investor Forum, which promises to be as engaging as ever. As with prior events, the AIF 2020 will take place at ABN AMRO’s headquarters in Amsterdam but the date has been brought forward to 5 February. 

Speaking with Hedgeweek, Delphine Amzallag (pictured), Global Head of Prime Services at ABN AMRO Clearing, says the focus this year has been to further broaden the scope of attending institutional investors and alternative asset managers, both in terms of type and geography.

“As with each year, we are hoping to diversify the perspectives available on a range of highly relevant topics. To that end, we are aiming to have an investor participate on each one of the panels alongside both established and emerging hedge fund managers.  In addition, we are inviting US and Asia-based investors and managers to compliment those based in Europe explains Amzallag, adding:

“We also want managers and investors to have a real opportunity to meet during the various breakout sessions – including lunch – and make good use of their time. In that sense, we are taking a bit more of a direct approach.”

One can expect animated discussion both within the auditorium and in the networking areas. Up to 300 investors and fund managers are expected and while the event is always a highly focused one, with an informal feel, the depth and breadth of panel discussions will be far reaching as the AIF 2020 seeks to address the key drivers of change affecting the hedge fund industry.

The overarching theme for ABN AMRO’s AIF event is to get a steer on how global hedge funds are navigating choppy waters and seeking out new returns and alpha-generating opportunities. 

For AIF 2020, there will be a disruption element to proceedings; market disruption, technology disruption, investor disruption (in terms of return expectations and the value of the hedge fund asset class). 

“Will market disruption offer new investment opportunities or will it simply be a risk hedge and if so, how is that being managed? How are hedge funds making a mark in a negative interest rate environment?” 

“We think early 2020 will be a prime time to discuss how hedge funds are thinking about market dynamics. Which strategies are likely to be the winners, and which will struggle in a tough macroeconomic regime?” remarks Amzallag. 

To kick off proceedings an assessment of the macro picture will be the first order of discussion and set the tone for the day’s agenda. 

“We are focusing the AIF 2020 around the role of hedge funds in a fast-changing world,” states Amzallag. “We will explore the global macro climate and debate issues such as negative interest rates, the looming threat of a recession, US Federal Reserve policy, Brexit. More and more, people are struggling with negative interest rate policies. How are hedge fund managers grappling with it and managing their strategies?”

As well as macro considerations, an examination of specific asset classes, including commodities and global equities, will be explored, and ideas debated and challenged. 

The equity-focused panel will feature a quantamental fund, an AI-focused fund, a discretionary equity long/short fund and a systematic equity long/short fund on the panel to bring four unique viewpoints to the table. 

“Will equity l/s strategies still be optimal in the future? How have equity-focused hedge funds performed relative to benchmarks and what do they need to do to find alpha? 

“If there is a recession, will managers be suitably agile to continue to deliver performance? And will those with theme-specific, sector-specific or country-specific strategies be well placed to capitalise on market dislocations in a slowing global economy and maintain a genuine edge?” asks Amzallag.

The panel discussion on digital assets will debate crypto strategies as a new way to participate in the financial system; are they set to challenge the established order of money management and the power of the state to print and distribute fiat currencies?  

“We will delve into the commodities market,” adds Amzallag. “To what extent is gold becoming a defensive trade against market turbulence? How are CTAs entering more esoteric areas and what are the risks and returns on offer?  

“The dedicated investor panel will look at the continuing case for hedge funds and consider the changing chemistry between hedge funds and investors. To what extent are investors requiring customized solutions? Do larger managers predominantly offer these solutions? And if so, what can smaller, emerging managers do to compete?”

The final panel of the day will debate the historic performance of hedge fund strategies and explore the value of hedge funds today. What are the risk/return characteristics they provide to investors relative to conventional assets?  

As if that wasn’t enough to whet the appetite, the AIF 2020 will once again feature the popular AIF Factor, during which a short list of five hedge funds have three minutes each to pitch their strategy to the audience. 

This year’s AIF Factor was won by Greenland Investment Management; a systematic strategy focusing on global commodity arbitrage opportunities. 

“We have already received a large number of managers signing up to it. For managers wishing to sign up, they should go to https://aiffactor.amsterdaminvestorforum.com/page/643096,”confirms Amzallag. 

Asked what she thinks has been the secret of the AIF event’s success over the last eight years, Amzallag concludes:

“There’s no fuss. The people who attend the AIF event are very approachable, the topics and speakers are always engaging and high quality, and given that it is in its ninth year, I believe it has become the ‘go to’ hedge event in Europe.” 

Registration for the AIF 2020 event is now open. For more details please visit: https://www.amsterdaminvestorforum.com/.

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