Evans will concentrate on promoting Qbasis’ new exchange-traded fund, the Qbasis Futures Fund, which began trading on the Hamburg Stock Exchange on April 1. It replicates the investment strategy of the principal Qbasis managed futures fund, also called the Qbasis Futures Fund, but is accessible to retail investors.
“Managed futures are destined to grow even more now,” said Philipp Pölzl, co-founder of Qbasis, in Vaduz. “In the last two years, if you were running a portfolio, to include managed futures was a must. In 2008 it was the only asset class that did well – everything else was down. In 2009 everything else went up, and managed futures unfortunately had their worst year in history. But that’s what they offer – uncorrelated returns. The last two years have been very helpful to us.”
So far, Qbasis has five salespeople concentrating on the German and Austrian markets and two covering Switzerland, all from Liechtenstein.
Evans was most recently partner and co-founder of GLS, a hedge fund marketing business. Before that he worked at UBS and Merrill Lynch, covering intermediaries and wealth managers in the alternatives sector. He began his career in 2002 at the US investment bank Laidlaw & Co and then moved to the ECU Group, a former subsidiary of ED&F Man.
Qbasis’ decision to launch an ETF was driven partly by the changing concerns of European investors. “There have been some problems with offshore funds,” said Pölzl, “not in managed futures but more widely – such as liquidity restrictions. Because offshore funds aren’t as regulated as onshore ones, people have not felt as comfortable with them. Therefore there has been more demand for onshore products like ETFs and Ucits-compliant funds.”
On the horizon is the European Union’s Alternative Investment Fund Managers Directive, which could clamp down on a wide range of investments including hedge funds and commodity funds. “It is too early to say how the AIFM directive impacts offshore funds,” said Pölzl, “but we are prepared for it. Even if there is a problem marketing offshore funds in future, we have this onshore solution ready.”
The ETF is a feeder fund for Qbasis’ established offshore Qbasis Futures Fund. Apart from some additional fees and differences caused by hedging effects, its performance should be identical. While the offshore fund has a minimum investment of $100,000, the ETF is denominated in shares of Eu100, though in practice platform restrictions tend to mean investors have to put in at least Eu2,000.
Qbasis launched the ETF with about Eu1m of mostly self-funded money, and is now about to ramp up the marketing in the hope of growing the fund.
Evans is going to be marketing it in the UK to private banks, smaller funds of funds and independent financial advisers. Pölzl said Qbasis would consider adding a sterling class of shares if there was demand.
Qbasis’ funds invest in more than 90 different futures products, ranging from stocks and indices to bonds, energy and metals. Trading is fully automated, using two systems developed by co-founder Florian Wagner and system developer Ziad Chahal.
The systems, MF Trend and MF Plus, are intended to enable the fund to profit from both short and long term trends, as well as from sideways market movements. Qbasis claims these strategies have had an annualised return of 35% since inception, and returned 130% in the past two years.
The MF Trend strategy is a break-out trend-following strategy, while MF Plus is a swing/reversal strategy. Intraday movements are captured by a strategy component called MF Trend High Frequency.
Qbasis is invested in every market 95% of the time, including overnight and weekends, with the aiming of achieving constant high diversification and an edge in catching trends. The two strategies have a low correlation with each other.
Jon Hay +44 207 779 8372 firstname.lastname@example.org