(pictured: Paul Chadwick)
AIMA Australia, the Alternative Investment Management Association, celebrates its 15th anniversary this week. A lot has changed since the Australian chapter was born in the ashes of tech wreck. For one thing, the term ‘hedge fund’ is no longer a pejorative.
Paul Chadwick, the current AIMA Australia chair – only the organisation’s third – said last week that the alternatives industry was going through a very interesting time and had a great future ahead of it as the funds management industry continued to evolve.
“Hedge funds have become a mainstay of capital markets over the past 15-20 years, as institutional investors, in particular, look to harness the skills of various types of alternatives managers,” Chadwick said. “Investors need to diversify their strategies and hedge fund managers are at the cutting edge of modern investment techniques.”
He said: “I take my hat off to all the people who have built up AIMA in Australia, often working for little else than a heart-felt ‘thank you’. I believe their efforts in the education space have really been in the best interests of Australian investors and the work with the regulators has been instrumental in bringing the industry to the well-respected position it enjoys today. I’m looking forward to our next Forum (in Sydney on September 13) which is an event that also has grown in scope and calibre along with the industry.”
Chadwick has been on the AIMA Australia board almost since inception, when he was the head of business for GMO Australia. He now runs and ESG-focused firm, Nanuk Asset Management.
Damien Hatfield, who heads up sales and marketing for Ascalon Capital, was the first chair, having reached out to the UK parent body which was formed in 1996. Hatfield is possibly the first hedge fund manager in Australia, having set up the hedge fund unit for Deutsche Bank in Sydney in 1992. He subsequently did the same at Colonial First State and then Pengana Capital.
Kim Ivey, another hedge fund manager, did a lot of work for AIMA in the early days. He was chair from 2003 to 2010. He also became a part-time chief executive for a couple of years.
Ivey said the two main aims of AIMA were education for investors, both institutional and retail, and to represent the industry with regulators.
A defining moment for the organisation came at the start of the global financial crisis in 2008. The Government followed some others and slapped a ban on short-selling. AIMA commissioned a research paper which showed why the ban would be counter-productive – actually increasing volatility and reducing liquidity. The ban was lifted after a few weeks.
Ivey says that Australia is a little different to Europe with hedge funds, having been supported by super funds with mandates from its early stages. In most other countries, high net worth investors were the earliest adopters of hedge fund strategies.
“Super funds started to dip their toe in the water through funds of funds in the 1990s,” Ivey said. “Retail investors followed suit, which required more education.”