Securitization of Digital Assets: Exploring the World of Cryptocurrency ETPs

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Cryptocurrency exchange-traded products (ETPs) have recently garnered significant attention and popularity as investors seek exposure to the growing world of digital assets. These innovative investment vehicles provide a more efficient way for retail and institutional investors to gain exposure to cryptocurrencies without the complexities of directly owning and managing digital wallets, highlights an analysis by the fund manager FlexFunds.

What is Cryptocurrency ETP? 

Cryptocurrency ETPs are investment products that track the performance of one or more digital currencies. There are several types of cryptocurrencies ETPs available in the market:

  1. Exchange-Traded Funds (ETFs)
  2. Exchange-Traded Notes (ETNs)
  3. Exchange-Traded Certificates (ETCs)

Each type has its unique structure and characteristics, offering different levels of exposure to the underlying digital assets.

According to the specialized consultancy firm, ETFGI, assets invested in the global ETF industry reached a record $12.71 trillion at the end of the first quarter of 2024, up 9.2% from the end of 2023, when the figure was $11.63 trillion, as shown in the following graph:

Furthermore, when examining exchange-traded products (ETPs) with digital assets as underlying collateral, Fineqia International revealed that assets under management (AUM) at the end of March 2024 reached $94.4 billion, reflecting a cumulative increase of 91% in 2024 compared to the beginning of the year when AUM was $49.5 billion.

From this, it can be inferred that cryptocurrency ETPs show an upward trend as an alternative form of participation in the digital assets market. Asset managers or investors interested in exploring the cryptocurrency market have three main ways to gain market exposure, summarized in the following table:

Cryptocurrency ETPs allow portfolio managers and investors to access the volatility and growth potential of cryptocurrencies without having to subscribe directly to one or more specific currency. One possible way to structure such digital asset ETPs is by the means of asset securitization programs like those offered by FlexFunds. As a leading company in designing investment vehicles, FlexFunds allows for the securitization of any underlying exchange-traded fund in less than half the time and cost of any other alternative in the market, facilitating distribution to global private banking channels and access to international investors.

Here are the advantages and risks that asset managers should consider when opting for a cryptocurrency ETP:

Main Advantages:

  1. Diversification: Cryptocurrency ETPs allow portfolio diversification by gaining exposure to a wide range of digital assets, reducing the concentration risk associated with investing in a single cryptocurrency.
  2. Accessibility: ETPs provide a nimble and effective investment vehicle that can be easily listed on secondary markets.
  3. Liquidity: Unlike direct ownership of digital currencies, ETPs offer liquidity through their listing on regulated exchanges, allowing for buying or selling holdings at market prices during trading hours.
  4. Exposure to different investment strategies: ETPs can replicate the performance of specific cryptocurrencies, while others may focus on specific sectors or themes within the cryptocurrency market. This allows asset managers to tailor their portfolios based on their preferences and market outlook.
  5. Regulatory oversight: Cryptocurrency ETPs are subject to regulatory oversight, which raises compliance standards, offering investors a higher level of protection and transparency compared to other existing alternatives for participating in this type of asset.

Risks and Considerations:

  1. Volatility: The cryptocurrency market is known for its high volatility, and ETPs tracking digital assets are not immune to this, as they reflect the value of the underlying assets.
  2. Regulatory uncertainty: The regulatory landscape surrounding cryptocurrencies is evolving, and changes in regulations can affect the viability and availability of cryptocurrency ETPs.
  3. Tracking error: ETPs aim to replicate the performance of their underlying digital assets, but tracking errors can occur due to various factors such as fees, market conditions, and rebalancing.
  4. Lack of investor protection: Unlike traditional financial markets, cryptocurrency ETPs may not offer the same level of investor protection.
  5. Technological risks: Cryptocurrencies depend on blockchain technology, which is still relatively new and evolving.
  6. Tax implications: The tax treatment of cryptocurrency ETPs can vary depending on the jurisdiction.

The emergence of cryptocurrencies and the subsequent development of exchange-traded products (ETPs) for digital assets have opened a new realm of possibilities for asset managers, investors, companies, and the global financial landscape as a whole. An increasing number of investors are eager to delve into these types of digital assets, especially during bullish periods. This implies that asset and portfolio managers must find ways to offer their clients a means of participating in this market with minimal exposure to inherent risks and volatilities.

An example of utilizing a vehicle that securitizes digital asset ETFs is the recent issuance by FlexFunds for Compass Group, one of the leading independent investment advisors in Latin America. FlexFunds structured its first investment vehicle backed by cryptocurrency ETFs, securitizing assets with a nominal value of $10 million, making it easier and less risky for Compass Group clients to participate in such assets.

If you wish to explore the advantages of digital asset securitization, feel free to contact the experts at FlexFunds at info@flexfunds.com

Santander Names Javier Garcia Carranza as Head of Wealth and Insurance

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The Spanish press has described a “revolution” at Banco Santander this Wednesday. In any case, what the entity has announced constitutes a full-scale restructuring, with the merger of the Investment Platforms & Corporate Investments unit and the global Wealth Management & Insurance business.

Leading this new sector is one of Santander’s strongmen, Javier García Carranza, who is now responsible for Asset Management, Private Banking, and Insurance.

According to an internal memo accessed by the Spanish press, García Carranza replaces Víctor Matarranz, who previously led Wealth Management. From now on, Matarranz will work directly with the group’s CEO, Héctor Grisi, to “support him in executing the strategy,” according to the internal memo.

According to public figures, the Wealth Management & Insurance unit manages assets worth €482 billion ($523 billion). In the first quarter, the unit’s net profit rose by 27% year-on-year, representing around 13% of Santander group’s profits.

With this change, the group’s global areas are reduced to five (Retail & Commercial, Digital Consumer Bank, Payments, Corporate & Investment Banking, and Wealth Management & Insurance) at the expense of the division into geographical markets. The changes were announced at the end of 2023 and aim to simplify the entity’s offerings.

How can a structured note shape portfolio outcomes

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The outcome of a portfolio is the result of many different aspects, such as commissions, time horizon, asset classes held, among others, and how they align to increase the value of an investment. One of the main determinants of the performance is the strategy that composes the holdings, which is molded by each portfolio manager’s risk appetite, that depending on the capital, goals, and approach, will range from conservative to aggressive, highlights an analysis by the fund manager FlexFunds.

Tracking a portfolio’s performance is a critical and reassuring component of the investment process, enabling investors and asset managers to gauge the efficacy of their strategies.

Typically, conservative portfolio approaches use a 60/40 strategy, which consists of assigning 60% of the value of the total allocations in equities and the remaining 40% in fixed income; the 60/40 model aims to harness the long-term growth potential of stocks while seeking stability via debt instruments.  As reported by the 1st Annual Report of the Asset Securitization  Sector, gathering the input of 80+ asset management companies from more than 15 countries, more than half of the professionals interviewed believe that the 60/40 model will remain relevant. To implement this strategy, investors must buy many different securities (distributed in stocks and bonds) to have a diversified holding base. Nowadays, there is a comprehensive inventory of available securities that are integrated by different asset classes within a single instrument. An example of such securities can be a structured note.

What is a structured note? It is a hybrid financial product that combines features of different vehicles in the form of a debt obligation, and its performance is tied to the returns of these underlying.

Using flexible products that repackage different assets in a single security offers a significant advantage by accomplishing the desired weighting distribution without the need for multiple subscriptions, which ends up decreasing the total account value due to fees and commissions. For instance, FlexFunds’ FlexPortfolio allows structuring actively managed notes with no limitations on rebalancing or allocation. Since the securities that compose this product are not fixed or embedded, its composition can be adjusted by the manager depending on the prevailing market conditions and clients’ (investors) best interests, all these while being able to supervise the portfolio performance given that the notes have a NAV that is frequently distributed.

Despite the objective and weighting that each underlying (whether equity or debt) may have in a portfolio, there are a variety of ways in which a note can be designed, meaning that any financial goal can be pursued; it is up to the investor to decide what focus aligns the most with its desired outcome. The most common arrangements are the following:

  • Offer upside and growth potential.
  • Offer downside protection (hedging).
  • Offer an illiquid asset in the form of a marketable vehicle.
  • Offer periodic payments/disbursements in the form of coupons.

Structured investment targets and how they can make a portfolio more conservative/aggressive:

The preceding graph visually demonstrates how the constitution of a structured security can influence the overall risk-return relationship of an investment allocation, given the nature of its underlying. Equity-like instruments tend to augment portfolio volatility while potentially offering superior returns. Conversely, instruments exhibiting bond-like characteristics can introduce an element of price stability to the allocation.

Every investment process has an expected return for a certain level of risk; considering that we are assessing some of the structured notes’ pros and cons and the impact these may have on a portfolio’s outcome, let’s delve into some of the potential structured notes’ risks.

  1. Limited Liquidity

They may have limited liquidity, making it challenging for investors to sell their notes before the maturity date due to a lack of a secondary market. There may or may not be buyers for the note, and investors may be forced to sell the securities at a discount on what they are worth.

  1. Market Risk

While some offer protection against losses, this safety net has its limits. When the underlying experiences high volatility due to market fluctuations, investors can still experience losses. Linking the note to more speculative positions increase the market risk significantly.

  1. Default

Structured notes can possess a heightened credit exposure compared to alternative options. If the issuer of the note files for bankruptcy, the entire investment could be rendered worthless, regardless of the returns produced by the underlying asset.

Although achieving complete mitigation of all potential structured notes risks, or any other risks associated with individual positions or financial instruments, may be challenging, mitigating at least one may  provide an  edge in the market.

FlexFunds asset securitization program is carried out utilizing Special Purpose Vehicles (SPV), which makes each issuance bankruptcy remote. This SPV framework ensures that the resources contained within the structure are isolated from the originator’s balance sheet, providing financial protection in the case of bankruptcy or default.

Empower your distribution and reach with innovative yet proven solutions. FlexFunds, a recognized fintech leader in the securitization industry, offers a program of global notes that can help you expand your client base while issuing a flexible investment strategy. Explore which of FlexFunds’ tailored solutions better adapt to your specific needs. Contact us today to schedule a meeting at info@flexfunds.com

 

Insigneo Announces Inauguration of Flagship Houston Office

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Inauguration of Insigneo's Houston office | LinkedIn account of María Elena Orantes, Consul General of Mexico.

Insigneo was opened its flagship office in Houston, Texas. This occasion marks a significant milestone for Insigneo as it materializes its presence in Texas, the firm said in a press release.

The inaugural event served as both the opening of Insigneo‘s new office and the 2024 Q2 Quarterly Call. This dual-purpose gathering brought together clients, leadership team, and peers, providing an opportunity to explore the new office environment and gain valuable insights directly from Insigneo’s CIO, Ahmed Riesgo.

The event, which commenced on April 10th, has the speeches from Raul Henriquez, Chairman and CEO of Insigneo Financial Group, and Maria Elena Orantes Lopez, Consul General of Mexico

This expansion underscores Insigneo‘s dedication to extending its services to the Mexican clientele and broadening its geographic footprint across Texas. Following the acquisition by PNC, Insigneo has strategically expanded its presence, with additional locations in San Antonio, El Paso, Laredo, and San Diego.

“This moment marks a significant milestone in our journey as an investment firm, expanding our reach and commitment to serving our clients with excellence and dedication.” said Maria G. Hernandez, Insigneo Market Head Texas/US SW. “As we embark on this new chapter, we are grateful for the opportunity to further strengthen our presence in this vibrant city and contribute to its thriving financial landscape. With the support of our talented team and the trust of our clients, we look forward to achieving even greater success together.”

This expansion underscores Insigneo’s commitment to international wealth management, driven by state-of-the-art technology and continuous innovation, the statement concludes.

 

Ricardo Sucre Joins Bolton Global Capital in Miami

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International advisor Ricardo Sucre is the latest recruit by Bolton Global Capital to exit Morgan Stanley.

With a career spanning more than three decades, managing ultra-high net worth individuals from Latin America, Sucre has developed and maintained relationships with international clients, resulting in a $200 million AUM business portfolio, Bolton said in a press release.

Prior to joining Morgan Stanley in 2014, Sucre held senior positions at Mercantil Commercebank in the areas of private banking, treasury sales management, and investment services. Notably, as a Senior Financial Consultant, he managed portfolios for ultra-high net worth clients executing trades across emerging markets, domestic corporate debt, and US government securities, the firm added.

At Bolton, Sucre will be joining forces with Ernesto Amengual, Leonardo Tedeschi and Jorge Aguerrevere. He will be based out of Bolton’s Miami office at the Four Seasons Tower on Brickell Avenue.

“As a consummate professional, Ricardo will undoubtedly continue along the same the path of success with the support of Bolton’s robust international wealth management capabilities. We are delighted that he is joining our firm.” said Bolton’s CEO Ray Grenier.

He has a Bachelor of Arts in Business Administration and a Major in Finance from Universidad Santa Maria in Venezuela.

US Services Sector Growing, But Job Concerns Mounting

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The US ISM services index shows that business activity and new orders are performing well, but companies are increasingly focused on trimming their workforce. The employment component of the index has dropped into contraction territory, indicating a potential risk of job losses in the coming months.

However, with inflation pressures looking less worrying, the Federal Reserve should have the flexibility to respond, said James Knightley, Chief International Economist, ING Bank in a new report for ING Bank.

The ISM services index for February came in at 52.6, below the consensus forecast of 53.0. However, business activity and new orders improved to 57.2 and 56.1, respectively, indicating expansion in these areas. Employment, on the other hand, dropped to 48.0, the second sub-50 print in the past three months, and the six-month moving average is also below the 50 line.

The relationship between the ISM services employment index and the monthly change in nonfarm payrolls has historically been strong, but in 2023 and into 2024, they have had an inverse relationship. With job loss announcements seemingly picking up and the quit rate falling, it does appear that the jobs market is cooling.

Prices paid fell back in the report, which is a positive sign given the recent strength in core inflation readings. The ISM indices and GDP growth, indicating that the economy may not be as robust as GDP alone suggests. Nonetheless, there is little sign of employers taking an axe to jobs, and the Federal Reserve should have the flexibility to respond to any potential job losses.

The full report can be found on the ING Group site.

Amerant Investments Partners with iCapital

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Amerant Investments announced that it has entered into a strategic relationship with iCapital.

This collaboration will provide Amerant Investment’s financial advisors, along with their clients, access to private market opportunities and analytics. The partnership will also entail oversight of the entire investment and education experience through a unified technology platform and operating system, according the press release.

“At Amerant Investments, we recognize that private markets investments have the potential to generate higher returns and provide diversification benefits to investors as they seek to access relatively untapped opportunities,” said Sergio Guerrero, COO at Amerant Investments. “We are excited to leverage iCapital’s curated options, innovative technology, and robust educational materials to help set our financial advisors up for success.”

Unicorn Strategic Partners, a key distribution partner to asset managers and a strategic ally to iCapital in the LATAM region, will play a crucial role in supporting Amerant’s distribution efforts. Additionally, they will educate Amerant’s network of advisors on the available asset classes and funds via iCapital Marketplace, a platform featuring the industry’s broadest selection of alternative investment funds, due diligence and education resources, fund subscription processing, and third-party reporting services”, the firm said.

The menu will focus on semi-liquid and closed-end funds available on iCapital Marketplace. iCapital’s market-leading technology platform and solutions have effectively and efficiently diminished the historical barriers that wealth managers and their clients have faced when investing in private markets by automating the subscription, administration, operational, and reporting processes for the life of the investment.

In addition, the partnership with iCapital provides Amerant with a full suite of research, due diligence, and educational materials to empower their financial advisors and investors. It will include access to iCapital’s comprehensive educational offerings, including the AltsEdgeTM Certificate Program, an educational initiative jointly created by iCapital and the Chartered Alternative Investment Analyst (CAIA) Association, designed to help wealth managers better understand alternative investments and how they can leverage them to improve client outcomes. The AltsEdgeTM program consists of ten research-based, CE-accredited modules covering the private markets, various types of strategies and product structures, and portfolio construction.

“Wealth managers are increasingly looking to alternative investments as a way to help their clients improve their financial outcomes,” said Wes Sturdevant, Managing Director, iCapital Enterprise Solutions. “We are proud to establish this partnership with Amerant Investments, a respected registered investment advisor and broker-dealer with wealth management expertise in the Latin America and U.S. markets and welcome the opportunity to support their expansion into alternative investments.”

El Miami Fintech Club anuncia a Steve McLaughlin para charla sobre el ecosistema

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El Miami Fintech Club ha anunciado a Steve McLaughlin, fundador y CEO de FT Partners, para una charla exclusiva en su evento del 13 de febrero en Miami.

McLaughlin, ex banquero de Goldman Sachs especializado en FinTech y Servicios Financieros durante más de 20 años, será entrevistado por Alejandra Slatapolsky, cofundadora del Miami Fintech Club.

“Estamos encantados de organizar esta animada charla con uno de los líderes del sector”, declaró Max Shelford, cofundador del Miami Fintech Club.

El debate se basará sobre “el estado de la industria, las oportunidades de crecimiento, los movimientos estratégicos de los actores clave y sus predicciones para el futuro”, dice el comunicado al que accedió Funds Society.

El objetivo del evento es reunir a la creciente comunidad fintech de Miami para establecer contactos, debatir tendencias y obtener información de uno de los principales expertos en este campo, que fue recientemente clasificado en el puesto número uno en Institutional Investor’s “Most Influential Dealmakers in FinTech“.

“La discusión ofrecerá perspectivas poco comunes de esta industria en rápida evolución de los que saben”, agregó Shelford.

El Miami Fintech Club organiza eventos periódicos para reforzar la reputación de Miami como centro emergente de innovación financiera. El grupo fomenta la creación de redes, el intercambio de ideas y las asociaciones dentro del ecosistema fintech local, dice la información proporcionada por la organización.

El aforo es limitado, por lo que la organización recomienda a los interesado deberán inscribirse en el siguiente link.

Some Positive Takeaways from 2023 for 2024

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Crédito: Michael_Luenen
Pixabay CC0 Public DomainAuthor: Michael_Luenen

What a difference one quarter, let alone one year, can make.  Markets entered 2023 battered and bruised.  A war in Ukraine and a war on inflation threatened to wreck the global economy.  Cracks emerged as a succession of banks (Silicon Valley, Signature, First Republic, Credit Suisse) failed.  In keeping with recent history, Congress took us to the precipice before agreeing to more spending.  Tragically, another front has opened in the battle against the axis of Russia/Iran/China.  Yet, notwithstanding signs of economic deceleration, inflation appears headed south while employment remains steady.  Remarkably, the odds that the Federal Reserve pulls off a soft landing have grown; as Chair Powell noted in his most recent testimony: “so far, so good”.

Merger Arbitrage concluded the year on a strong note as Pfizer successfully completed its acquisition of Seagen (SGEN-NASDAQ) for $43 billion in cash. This followed a comprehensive second request process conducted by the U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC). Additionally, Bristol-Myers received U.S. antitrust approval in Phase 1 for its acquisition of the targeted oncology company, Mirati Therapeutics (MRTX-NASDAQ), contributing to a positive antitrust sentiment. Deal spreads, including those for Capri Holdings (CPRI-NYSE), Albertsons (ACI-NYSE), and Amedisys (AMED-NASDAQ) among others, firmed in response. Global M&A activity reached $2.9 trillion, marking a 17% decrease compared to 2022. However, the U.S. market remained robust with $1.4 trillion in announced deals, maintaining a level comparable to 2022.

Worldwide M&A totaled $2.9 trillion in 2023, a decrease of 17% compared to 2022 activity. However, fourth quarter deal making increased 23% sequentially compared to third quarter 2023, an encouraging sign that deal making may be recovering. The US remained a bright spot for deal activity with deal volume of $1.4 trillion, a decline of about 5% and accounting for 47% of worldwide M&A (compared to 42% in 2022.) Energy & Power was the most active sector with deal volume that totalled $502 billion and accounted for 17% of overall value. Industrials, Technology and Healthcare M&A each accounted for 13% of total M&A in 2023. Private Equity acquisitions totalled $566 billion and accounted for 20% of total deal activity. Despite PE deal volume declining 30% compared to 2022, it was still the sixth largest year on record for PE acquisitions.

Reflecting on a volatile year in the convertible market, we have some positive takeaways. Issuance returned to pre-pandemic levels at relatively attractive terms. We expect the pace of issuance to accelerate in 2024 as companies face a maturity wall that must be refinanced. We expect the allure of relatively lower interest rates in convertibles will bring many more companies to our market offering continued asymmetrical return opportunities. Additionally, convertibles that were issued at unattractive terms at market highs in 2021 have generally found bond floor and some offer a compelling yield to maturity. Companies that can have been repurchasing these bonds in an accretive transaction, or refinancing them by issuing converts with a more attractive profile. We expect this trend to continue in 2024 and continue to look for opportunities in this segment of the market.

 

 

Opinion article by Michael Gabelli, managing director at Gabelli & Partners 

Investors lean towards conservative positions: 81.3% of portfolio managers confirm

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2022 will be remembered as a challenging period for financial markets, characterized by the ineffectiveness of traditional strategies and notable losses in global stock indices. Amidst this scenario, portfolio managers were forced to face the sale of positions backed by illiquid assets, highlighting the critical need for adaptability in investment management.

The rapid rise in interest rates in the United States and the Eurozone, driven by the urgency to curb runaway inflation, became a fundamental trigger for financial challenges. Additionally, the threat of recessions in major developed economies and geopolitical uncertainty created a landscape full of uncertainties for portfolio managers.

In this context, the 1st Report of the Asset Securitization Sector, sponsored by FlexFunds, serves as a tool to understand how financial advisors in different regions deal with the complexities of the current financial environment. The report analyzes short-term expectations, challenges in portfolio management, and key trends in the asset securitization sector through a series of questions directed at industry experts from over 80 companies in 15 countries in LATAM, the United States, and Europe.

In situations of uncertainty and volatility, portfolio management must seek the redistribution of financial resources to minimize risks and maximize returns. Portfolio diversification among different assets, sectors, and industries is a traditional strategy, but it is crucial for clients to understand the risks associated with each financial product. A delicate balance between risk and return, along with periodic rebalancing, becomes essential to maintain long-term goals and strategies.

Macroeconomic variables play a fundamental role in investment decision making. Economic growth, interest rates, inflation, the labor market, and government policies directly impact the health and performance of an economy. In this regard, the study conducted in this area has been broken down into four questions:

What variables will have the greatest influence on the markets in the next 12 months?

The results in Figure 1 show that almost half of the respondents believe that the main variables influencing the markets in the coming months will be interest rates and inflation, with interest rates being the primary variable considered by 78% of the sample, followed by inflation at 64.8%. Distrust in financial institutions is a factor considered by 17.6% of respondents.

Thus, the main variables to watch in the coming months are inflation and the evolution of interest rates until the end of their upward cycle.

Considering that uncertainty is an inherent characteristic of financial markets, experts were asked if they believe investors are demanding more conservative positions. 81.3% of respondents believe that their clients are indeed demanding more conservative positions, compared to 14.3% who disagree with this statement, as seen in the following graph:

 

The situation in the financial markets during the year 2022/23, with losses in major indices and returns on stocks, investment funds, and assets, has generated an increase in perceived risk, increasing aversion to it. Both portfolio managers and investors are more inclined to modify their investment strategies to redistribute their portfolios towards more conservative positions.

The 1st Report of the Asset Securitization Sector provides portfolio managers with insights based on the survey results from nearly a hundred industry experts, where their expectations about interest rates and a possible recession in the United States over the next 12 months are also addressed. Download it now to learn their response and the main trends within the sector: Will the 60/40 model continue to be relevant? Which collective investment vehicles will be more used? What is the expected evolution for ETFs? What factors to consider when building a portfolio?