Managed Futures Mutual Funds November Update

November’s results are in, so it’s time for us to update our look at the world of the so-called managed futures mutual funds. Once again, the results aren’t pretty (for the mutual funds): on average, they’re lagging the benchmark managed futures indices by -6.26% after the effect of load fees (and -1.93% before load fees). Three of the twenty-three funds were ahead of the indices average for 2012, though only two of them have YTD returns above zero (after considering load fees). The “Single Strategy” funds have shown the largest range in outcomes – sporting the only funds with returns above zero, and also the funds with the deepest losses this year.

The funds marked with an asterisk started during 2012. Because their YTD returns do not reflect a full 11 months of performance, they were not included in each category average.

We don’t think mutual funds are the best vehicle to access the managed futures asset class if you have the capital to stand on your own and invest in individually managed accounts (see after the chart for why), and the numbers continue to back us up. Read ‘em and weep below (Disclaimer: past performance is not necessarily indicative of future results).

Click to embiggen.

Sorted by YTD Return After Load

Earlier this year we expanded our look at managed futures mutual funds to consider the new entrants into the space. We have been critical of these products for a few reasons. For one, they are being marketed as managed futures products, but many do not contain any actual managed futures exposure; rather they merely utilize a trend following model to approximate such exposure. Then there are some that actually do invest in underlying managed futures managers (kudos to you), but do so at a very high cost with extra layers of fees and, more often than not, a high front end sales (load) fee.  And then there are those which are not providing managed futures exposure and charging load fees: the worst of the worst. Although the load fees may be waived for investors hitting certain “breakpoints” due to larger investments, we still feel the bulk of these funds will underperform the managed futures indices even without the hefty load fees

3 comments

  1. Can you go into more detail or explain how some of the funds “merely utilize a trend following model to approximate such exposure”? I don’t understand how this would be different than a larger trend following CTA?

  2. Our issue is that the mutual funds are called “managed futures,” implying they give access to the asset class. A single trend following model may approximate trend following, it may loosely approximate the risk and returns of the asset class, but it is quite clearly not actually investing in the asset class. It is like investing in a US stock market fund which has only one investment – buying IBM stock. One swallow does not a summer make.

    Further:

    1. If you have a very good trend following model – would you raise hundreds of millions of dollars and charge 2 and 20, or license it to a mutual fund company to approximate overall managed futures exposure? Choosing the license route makes us question the quality of the model.

    2. The model in question for two of the largest (Wisdom Tree and Rydex) doesn’t work very well, and especially doesn’t track MF very well as of late.

    3. The largest trend following CTAs generally have numerous overlapping models on varying time frames (not a single model), risk filters and other overlays to lower drawdowns, and have research staff constantly working to improve all of that and adapt to the changing market conditions. The single model is just that – one model you hope works in any and all conditions.

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Disclaimer
The performance data displayed herein is compiled from various sources, including BarclayHedge, RCM's own estimates of performance based on account managed by advisors on its books, and reports directly from the advisors. These performance figures should not be relied on independent of the individual advisor's disclosure document, which has important information regarding the method of calculation used, whether or not the performance includes proprietary results, and other important footnotes on the advisor's track record.

Benchmark index performance is for the constituents of that index only, and does not represent the entire universe of possible investments within that asset class. And further, that there can be limitations and biases to indices such as survivorship, self reporting, and instant history.

Managed futures accounts can subject to substantial charges for management and advisory fees. The numbers within this website include all such fees, but it may be necessary for those accounts that are subject to these charges to make substantial trading profits in the future to avoid depletion or exhaustion of their assets.

Investors interested in investing with a managed futures program (excepting those programs which are offered exclusively to qualified eligible persons as that term is defined by CFTC regulation 4.7) will be required to receive and sign off on a disclosure document in compliance with certain CFT rules The disclosure documents contains a complete description of the principal risk factors and each fee to be charged to your account by the CTA, as well as the composite performance of accounts under the CTA's management over at least the most recent five years. Investor interested in investing in any of the programs on this website are urged to carefully read these disclosure documents, including, but not limited to the performance information, before investing in any such programs.

Those investors who are qualified eligible persons as that term is defined by CFTC regulation 4.7 and interested in investing in a program exempt from having to provide a disclosure document and considered by the regulations to be sophisticated enough to understand the risks and be able to interpret the accuracy and completeness of any performance information on their own.

RCM receives a portion of the commodity brokerage commissions you pay in connection with your futures trading and/or a portion of the interest income (if any) earned on an account's assets. The listed manager may also pay RCM a portion of the fees they receive from accounts introduced to them by RCM.

See the full terms of use and risk disclaimer here.

Disclaimer
The performance data displayed herein is compiled from various sources, including BarclayHedge, RCM's own estimates of performance based on account managed by advisors on its books, and reports directly from the advisors. These performance figures should not be relied on independent of the individual advisor's disclosure document, which has important information regarding the method of calculation used, whether or not the performance includes proprietary results, and other important footnotes on the advisor's track record.

Benchmark index performance is for the constituents of that index only, and does not represent the entire universe of possible investments within that asset class. And further, that there can be limitations and biases to indices such as survivorship, self reporting, and instant history.

Managed futures accounts can subject to substantial charges for management and advisory fees. The numbers within this website include all such fees, but it may be necessary for those accounts that are subject to these charges to make substantial trading profits in the future to avoid depletion or exhaustion of their assets.

Investors interested in investing with a managed futures program (excepting those programs which are offered exclusively to qualified eligible persons as that term is defined by CFTC regulation 4.7) will be required to receive and sign off on a disclosure document in compliance with certain CFT rules The disclosure documents contains a complete description of the principal risk factors and each fee to be charged to your account by the CTA, as well as the composite performance of accounts under the CTA's management over at least the most recent five years. Investor interested in investing in any of the programs on this website are urged to carefully read these disclosure documents, including, but not limited to the performance information, before investing in any such programs.

Those investors who are qualified eligible persons as that term is defined by CFTC regulation 4.7 and interested in investing in a program exempt from having to provide a disclosure document and considered by the regulations to be sophisticated enough to understand the risks and be able to interpret the accuracy and completeness of any performance information on their own.

RCM receives a portion of the commodity brokerage commissions you pay in connection with your futures trading and/or a portion of the interest income (if any) earned on an account's assets. The listed manager may also pay RCM a portion of the fees they receive from accounts introduced to them by RCM.

See the full terms of use and risk disclaimer here.