2023 iConnections Global Alts Recap
February 22, 2023
By Eric Fogelfis and Alexander Turk
Investment professionals converged in Miami at the end of January for the iConnections Global Alts 2023 conference as part of Miami Hedge Fund Week. The event drew approximately 700 managers and 1,000 allocators across various strategies and investor types for one-on-one meetings. Over the course of two days, an estimate of 14,000 meetings between managers and allocators took place.
The EisnerAmper-sponsored event featured panels on private markets, public markets. and digital assets and included household name speakers such as Marc Lasry, CEO of Avenue Capital Group; Anthony Scaramucci, CEO of SkyBridge Capital; James Chanos, CEO of Kynikos Associates; reality TV star Kim Kardashian, CEO of private equity fund Skyy Partners and billionaire entrepreneur Mark Cuban, among others who discussed the state of markets and outlook for the alternative investment space heading this year and beyond.
The panelists concurred the market is shifting away from the strategies that did well in the zero-interest rate environment over the past decade. While many panelists drew comparisons of the current market cycle to previous, many also agreed the current situation feels different from prior cycles and can afford many opportunities to a prudent investor. It is expected that markets will return to more a traditional base and adapt to portfolios that are more typical. Investors and allocators are continuing to look for opportunities to deploy capital in private equity markets and value-based equities.
Environmental, social and governance (“ESG”) continues to be a trending topic in the alternative investment space. Limited partners are looking to hold managers accountable for types of investments made in companies that engage with sustainable energy and climate control. However, investors and managers should continue to be wary of companies’ claims of ESG principles and ensure that these companies are compliant. The industry itself is working to streamline consistent reporting back to investors on performance metrics.
Digital assets, including cryptocurrency, represented another area of focus during the conference. The alternatives space is looking for a rebound after a volatile 2022. It is anticipated that new regulation within the sector will create more structure and confidence for new investors entering the market. There is continued interest from institutional investors to increase funding in the coming years as well as a growing number of businesses accepting cryptocurrency as payment options.
The most highly attended panel was the conversation between Kardashian and private equity veteran Jay Sammons regarding the launch of their new private equity fund, with the audience overflowing into other conference rooms to hear the duo’s plans. The fund is focused on control and minority investments in hospitality, luxury and digital e-commerce sectors. Kardashian indicated that she intends to use her media expertise to instill value in the portfolio companies in which the fund invests. The launch is expected during the latter part of 2023.
In conclusion, there seems to be a strong momentum coming into this year, based on attendance and conversations had at iConnections. Economic and geopolitical risks will continue to play a factor in the 2023 headlines, but there will also be opportunities for funds to capitalize in these areas. Some of the popular themes of the past years, including digital assets and ESG, will continue to play a role and evolve as the industry advances in the coming year.