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Unearth the cream of the alternative to offer optimal diversification

It was both her keen interest in entrepreneurship and her desire to offer investors high-quality alternative products that prompted Geneviève Blouin to launch the portfolio management firm Altervest in 2010.

Having first worked within large institutions in the financial world in Montreal, including the Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec, Geneviève Blouin, President of Altervest, explains that she has noticed a lack of to the asset class that distinguishes his company today. “I found that there were very few interesting alternative products on the market. In addition, I considered the derivatives to be either misused or underused. "

Its mission and the guideline for Altervest have thus become clear: to be the benchmark for the integration of alternative investments in the portfolio in order to improve their diversification, and this, by applying prudent risk management which nevertheless succeeds in maximize returns for investors.

“As an entrepreneur, I thrive on challenges and what fascinates me about being an independent manager is having the flexibility to find products that are truly suited to the client's needs, even if they are complex. Geneviève Blouin illustrates what she considers to be her role and that of her team by evoking adventurers who explore the jungle in all its corners in search of unique treasures. " It is a long process. We must first clear the uncleared roads to find many managers and then go through their prospectuses. The objective is to find managers capable of managing risk well. Indeed, nothing excludes studying funds whose performance would be lower, provided that their managers were better able to preserve capital than the competition during periods marked by large market corrections, because it is these funds that will outperform in the long run. " Geneviève Blouin is of the opinion that the method used by Altervest to manage the capital of its clients stands out from that of other firms by a risk management that is at the same time innovative, rigorous and conservative, "which is saying a lot when we are talking about alternative investments ”.

Winning strategies in tumultuous times Altervest mainly focuses on the private management of the assets of high net worth individuals, but also develops, through the mandates entrusted to it, its internal strategies, helping to balance certain portfolios. Faced with the instability of the markets during a global pandemic, Geneviève Blouin considers that the rigor employed by her firm takes on all its importance. In this regard, she referred to the enviable performance of Altervest's North American Opportunities strategy. In the third quarter of 2020, the portfolio generated a return of 10.8%, well above that of its benchmark, composed equally of the S & P / TSX60 and the S & P500, which returned 5.6%. .

“The good performance can be explained in part by an allocation to technology companies that do business online and to strong companies immune to the pandemic, for example, Five Below (retail discount), Park Lawn (cemetery) and Check Point (cybersecurity) ”, explains the president of Altervest.

The latter adds that the significant market disruptions caused by the spread of the coronavirus on an international scale also made it possible to verify to what extent the external managers to whom Altervest had entrusted assets were able to weather the storms. Geneviève Blouin thus recalls the famous quote from Warren Buffet: “It is only when the tide goes down that we can find out who was swimming without a swimsuit. " Like the famous financier, she sees hard times as useful. Altervest has thus made good use of recent market corrections to sort the wheat from the chaff among its selection of managers.

Believe in the strength of local managers

Geneviève Blouin, who is also the founder and chair of the board of directors of the Emerging Managers Council (CGE), argues that the position of smaller independent managers is advantageous compared to that of large institutions when it comes to time to innovate and design unique strategies for investors. “We have a lot more flexibility and fewer restrictions. This allows us to fully develop our expertise, ”says the derivatives specialist.

It does not hesitate to entrust the management of part of its clients' assets to emerging managers from here.

In addition, Geneviève Blouin is convinced of the benefits associated with encouraging the proliferation of local managers in the Canadian and Quebec financial ecosystem, including its dynamism and diversification. “This is not to say that small managers are better than large institutions, but rather to recognize their contribution to the evolution of the financial sector, in particular by the contribution of new ideas, by the creation of new products and through the development of technology. "

Towards a responsible future

With this in mind to want to offer innovative products that meet the changing needs of investors, the president of Altervest and her team are currently developing a Canadian Equity ESG strategy, the launch of which is scheduled for January 2021. “I strongly believe in the importance of being socially responsible and the saying “Buying is voting.” We are also increasingly noticing this concern among our clients and we want to enable them to combine their personal values ​​with their investment strategy, ”says Geneviève Blouin. She is convinced that this new product, which she particularly likes, would also have a place in the portfolios of institutional investors. Altervest has already initiated discussions with the Emerging Managers Program of Quebec (PGEQ) in order to open up the channels of communication with them.

“Just like the CGE, the PGEQ helps us, emerging managers, to carve out a place for ourselves in the financial ecosystem of Quebec, because although we offer exceptional and innovative products, the challenge of a growing emerging manager remains. always dependent on its ability to gain visibility, ”summarizes Geneviève Blouin.

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