Alternative Investments: Five Key Themes – Morgan Stanley

Written by Amanda

Risk Considerations

Alternative investments may be either traditional alternative investment vehicles, such as hedge funds, fund of hedge funds, private equity, private real estate and managed futures or, non-traditional products such as mutual funds and exchange-traded funds that also seek alternative-like exposure but have significant differences from traditional alternative investments. Alternative investments often are speculative and include a high degree of risk. Investors could lose all or a substantial amount of their investment. Alternative investments are appropriate only for eligible, long-term investors who are willing to forgo liquidity and put capital at risk for an indefinite period of time. They may be highly illiquid and can engage in leverage and other speculative practices that may increase the volatility and risk of loss. Alternative Investments typically have higher fees than traditional investments. Investors should carefully review and consider potential risks before investing. Certain of these risks may include but are not limited to: Loss of all or a substantial portion of the investment due to leveraging, short-selling, or other speculative practices; Lack of liquidity in that there may be no secondary market for a fund; Volatility of returns; Restrictions on transferring interests in a fund; Potential lack of diversification and resulting higher risk due to concentration of trading authority when a single advisor is utilized; Absence of information regarding valuations and pricing; Complex tax structures and delays in tax reporting; Less regulation and higher fees than mutual funds; and Risks associated with the operations, personnel, and processes of the manager. Further, opinions regarding Alternative Investments expressed herein may differ from the opinions expressed by Morgan Stanley Wealth Management and/or other businesses/affiliates of Morgan Stanley Wealth Management.

Certain information contained herein may constitute forward-looking statements. Due to various risks and uncertainties, actual events, results or the performance of a fund may differ materially from those reflected or contemplated in such forward-looking statements. Clients should carefully consider the investment objectives, risks, charges, and expenses of a fund before investing.

Alternative investments involve complex tax structures, tax inefficient investing, and delays in distributing important tax information. Individual funds have specific risks related to their investment programs that will vary from fund to fund. Clients should consult their own tax and legal advisors as Morgan Stanley Wealth Management does not provide tax or legal advice.

Interests in alternative investment products are offered pursuant to the terms of the applicable offering memorandum, are distributed by Morgan Stanley Smith Barney LLC and certain of its affiliates, and (1) are not FDIC-insured, (2) are not deposits or other obligations of Morgan Stanley or any of its affiliates, (3) are not guaranteed by Morgan Stanley and its affiliates, and (4) involve investment risks, including possible loss of principal. Morgan Stanley Smith Barney LLC is a registered broker-dealer, not a bank.

Hedge funds may involve a high degree of risk, often engage in leveraging and other speculative investment practices that may increase the risk of investment loss, can be highly illiquid, are not required to provide periodic pricing or valuation information to investors, may involve complex tax structures and delays in distributing important tax information, are not subject to the same regulatory requirements as mutual funds, often charge high fees which may offset any trading profits, and in many cases the underlying investments are not transparent and are known only to the investment manager.

REITs investing risks are similar to those associated with direct investments in real estate: property value fluctuations, lack of liquidity, limited diversification and sensitivity to economic factors such as interest rate changes and market recessions.

Options are not appropriate for every investor. This sales material must be accompanied by or preceded by a copy of the booklet ‘Characteristics and Risks of Standardized Options’ (ODD). Investors should not enter into options transactions until they have read and understood the ODD. Before engaging in the purchase or sale of options, investors should understand the nature of and extent of their rights and obligations and be aware of the risks involved, including, without limitation, the risks pertaining to the business and financial condition of the issuer of the underlying security or instrument. Options investing, like other forms of investing, involves tax considerations, transaction costs and margin requirements that can significantly affect the profit and loss of buying and writing options. The transaction costs of options investing consist primarily of commissions (which are imposed in opening, closing, exercise and assignment transactions), but may also include margin and interest costs in particular transactions. Transaction costs are especially significant in options strategies calling for multiple purchases and sales of options, such as multiple leg strategies, including spreads, straddles and collars. A link to the ODD is provided below: http://www.optionsclearing.com/about/publications/character-risks.jsp

Equity securities may fluctuate in response to news on companies, industries, market conditions and general economic environment.

Bonds are subject to interest rate risk. When interest rates rise, bond prices fall; generally the longer a bond’s maturity, the more sensitive it is to this risk. Bonds may also be subject to call risk, which is the risk that the issuer will redeem the debt at its option, fully or partially, before the scheduled maturity date. The market value of debt instruments may fluctuate, and proceeds from sales prior to maturity may be more or less than the amount originally invested or the maturity value due to changes in market conditions or changes in the credit quality of the issuer. Bonds are subject to the credit risk of the issuer. This is the risk that the issuer might be unable to make interest and/or principal payments on a timely basis. Bonds are also subject to reinvestment risk, which is the risk that principal and/or interest payments from a given investment may be reinvested at a lower interest rate.

Bonds rated below investment grade may have speculative characteristics and present significant risks beyond those of other securities, including greater credit risk and price volatility in the secondary market.  Investors should be careful to consider these risks alongside their individual circumstances, objectives and risk tolerance before investing in high-yield bonds.  High yield bonds should comprise only a limited portion of a balanced portfolio.

The initial interest rate on a floating-rate security may be lower than that of a fixed-rate security of the same maturity because investors expect to receive additional income due to future increases in the floating security’s underlying reference rate. The reference rate could be an index or an interest rate. However, there can be no assurance that the reference rate will increase. Some floating-rate securities may be subject to call risk.  Many floating rate securities specify rate minimums (floors) and maximums (caps). Floaters are not protected against interest rate risk. In a declining interest rate environment, floaters will not appreciate as much as fixed rate bonds. A decline in the applicable benchmark rate will result in a lower interest payment, negatively affecting the regular income stream from the floater. 

Yields are subject to change with economic conditions. Yield is only one factor that should be considered when making an investment decision. 

Duration, the most commonly used measure of bond risk, quantifies the effect of changes in interest rates on the price of a bond or bond portfolio. The longer the duration, the more sensitive the bond or portfolio would be to changes in interest rates.  Generally, if interest rates rise, bond prices fall and vice versa. Longer-term bonds carry a longer or higher duration than shorter-term bonds; as such, they would be affected by changing interest rates for a greater period of time if interest rates were to increase. Consequently, the price of a long-term bond would drop significantly as compared to the price of a short-term bond.

Because of their narrow focus, sector investments tend to be more volatile than investments that diversify across many sectors and companies. Risks applicable to companies in the energy and natural resources sectors include commodity pricing risk, supply and demand risk, depletion risk and exploration risk. Health care sector stocks are subject to government regulation, as well as government approval of products and services, which can significantly impact price and availability, and which can also be significantly affected by rapid obsolescence and patent expirations.

Asset allocation and diversification do not assure a profit or protect against loss in declining financial markets.

Rebalancing does not protect against a loss in declining financial markets.  There may be a potential tax implication with a rebalancing strategy.  Investors should consult with their tax advisor before implementing such a strategy.

© 2022 Morgan Stanley Smith Barney LLC, Member SIPC.

CRC#4727655   (05/2022) 

Source: morganstanley.com

About the author


Hi there, I am Amanda and I work as an editor at impactinvesting.ai;  if you are interested in my services, please reach me at amanda.impactinvesting.ai