The Maseco Asset Management Limited website is intended for use only by knowledgeable and experienced investors who meet certain criteria.

MASECO Asset Management Limited (MAM) registered office at Leeward Management Limited Camana Bay, 9 Forum Lane, Suite 3119, PO Box 144, Grand Cayman KY1-9006, Cayman Islands. A limited company incorporated in the Cayman Islands with company number CE-357344 and registered with the Cayman Islands Monetary Authority (CIMA).

A “knowledgeable and experienced” investor could be an institutional investor, a professional investor or in the case of a retail investor an investor with sufficient knowledge and investment experience.

UK Resident Investors – Certified High Net-worth Investor Statement

You have throughout the financial year immediately preceding the date below had an annual income of £100,000 or more or held throughout the financial year immediately preceding the date below, net assets to the value of £250,000 or more.

Net assets for these purposes do not include the property which is your primary residence or any money raised through a loan secured on that property; any rights of yours under a qualifying contract of insurance; or any benefits (in the form of pensions or otherwise) which are payable on the termination of your service or on your death or retirement and to which you (or your dependants are), or may be, entitled.

You accept that the investments to which the promotions will relate may expose you to a significant risk of losing all of the money or other property invested.  That you are aware that it is open to you to seek advice from an authorised person who specialises in advising on non-mainstream pooled investments.

US Resident Investor – Accredited Investor Statement

As a US citizen you are an Accredited Investor as one of the following applies, you either have individual Income in excess of $200,000 in each of the last two calendar years or joint Income with a spouse in excess of $300,000 in each of the last two calendar years and reasonably expects to attain levels of Income this year at least equal to these amounts.[1] Or you have, and at the time of any purchase of securities of the Investment will have, an individual Net Worth, or the spouse and the investor currently has, and at the time of any purchase of securities of the Investment will have, a combined Net Worth in excess of $1,000,000.[2]

You accept that the investments to which the promotions will relate may expose you to a significant risk of losing all of the money or other property invested.  You are aware that it is open to you to seek independent advice.

Risk Warning

You should refer to the Prospectus, an Adviser and a Tax Specialist in each case before making any decision to invest in either of MAM’s Alternative Income Funds.

Past performance is not an indicator of future results.  Currency fluctuations may increase or decrease the returns of any investment.  The value of investments can fall as well as rise; you may not get back what you invest.  The funds have limited liquidity and so you should expect not always to receive back your capital in a timely manner, during this time the fund value may fall as well as rise.


By accepting these statements you confirm you have read, understood and you meet the conditions of the relevant category of investor.

1 Income means adjusted gross income, as reported for federal income tax purposes, increased by the following amounts: (i) the amount of any tax exempt interest income received; (ii) the amount of losses claimed as a limited partner in a limited partnership; (iii) any deduction claimed for depletion; (iv) amounts contributed to an IRA or Keogh retirement plan; (v) alimony paid; and (vi) any amount by which income from long-term capital gains has been reduced in arriving at adjusted gross income pursuant to the provisions of Section 1202 of the Internal Revenue Code.

2 Net Worth is the amount by which your total assets at fair market value exceed your total liabilities, with the following adjustments:

(i) the estimated fair market value of your primary residence is excluded from your total assets; (ii) the amount of any indebtedness secured by your primary residence up to the fair market value of such residence is not treated as a liability; (iii) the amount of any indebtedness secured by your primary residence that exceeds the fair market value of your primary residence is treated as a liability; and (iv) the amount of any debt secured by your primary residence incurred during the 60 days immediately preceding your purchase of any securities of the Company is treated as a liability (even if the estimated fair market value of your primary residence exceeds the aggregate amount of indebtedness secured by such primary residence), unless such debt resulted from the purchase of your primary residence during such 60 day period.

Josh Matthews
Josh Matthews
Josh is a Managing Partner and co-founder of MASECO Private Wealth. In 2008, he co-founded MASECO Private Wealth in the UK, followed in subsequent years by MASECO Switzerland and MASECO Asia in Hong Kong. Josh is also a seasoned expert in Alternative Credit and is the architect of the MASECO Asset Management multi-strategy Alternative Credit Fund.


Back to opinions
March 2, 2017
Josh Matthews

SPIVA Buffet Passive vs. Active

It has been known for decades that active fund managers general underperform their benchmarks[1].  Eugene Fama penned the Efficient Market Hypothesis[2] in the 60’s proving this and there has been numerous others who have throughout the years.  In very recent times, Warren Buffet made waves this weekend with his harsh criticism of Wall Street and how investors have paid more than $100 billion needlessly in fees over the year[3].  Also, every six months S&P publishes their SPIVA report which shows this happening in practice – ‘over the five-year period, 91.91% of US large-cap (active) managers…lagged their respective benchmarks’.[4]

After decades of poor performance and high fees, investors are finally voting with their feet and moving to lower cost and more passive[5].  Notably, three fund companies have seen their assets under management swell in the past 5 years and have recorded positive fund inflows in each of those years.  These companies of course are Blackrock (iShares), Vanguard and Dimensional Fund Advisors who are all providers of low cost, tax efficient ‘asset class’[6] funds.  This does not mean that Vanguard index funds or iShares ETF will perform exactly in line with their benchmark and we don’t expect them to.  We would expect these investments to perform in line with their benchmark, minus their Total Expenses Ratio[7], the Reconstitution Effect[8] and other trading cost/friction such as bid/offer spreads that are typical in index funds and ETFs.  These costs tend to be higher in emerging markets than in developed markets and you see it show up in the figures.

For example, for the five years ending December 31, 2016 the iShare MSCI Emerging Market Index which has a TER of 0.72% was up 0.48% annually underperforming its index by 0.80% annually – almost exactly as expected.  Vanguard FTSE Emerging Market ETF was up 1.45% annually and unperformed its (different) benchmark by 0.16% annually – its TER is 0.15%.  So, as you can see, it is hard, maybe impossible to always achieve benchmark returns because there are costs to run and manage Asset Class funds[9].

At MASECO we have been investing in Asset Class funds for all equity investments and some fixed income investments since our inception in 2008.  In fixed income, however, the record of active managers in some asset classes has been enviable.  For example, we have been investing client assets in the Templeton Global Bond fund since our time at Citigroup.  As our long-term investors know, this fund is volatile but also outperforms the Citigroup World Government Bond Index on a 1, 3, 5 and 10-year time frame[10].  Why is this?  Simply put, we believe that owning some bond indices may be detrimental to your health.  Most of the original government bond indices were created by the big bonds houses as a way to help their brokers sell bonds (more on this another time).  The Barclays index was originally the Lehman index, the JPM index originally was the Bear Stearns index and the Citigroup index was the Salomon Brothers index.  By definition these indices are market weighted which means if you invest in them, you are buying the most heavily indebted countries in the world.  At the moment, this means the US, European countries, Japan and other indebted countries[11].  These countries pay close to zero interest, have increasing debt burdens and have falling credit ratings.  As a bond investor why not invest in countries that pay (a little) interest and have manageable debt burdens?  This is what Templeton has done and why more that 40% of Global Income funds have outperformed their benchmark.[12]

The final area we have allocated client’s portfolios to over time has been hedge funds in alternative credit (Nolex and the MASECO ACF).  Returns have been generous over the past few years and correlation very low with stocks and bonds.  Fees, however, have been higher in these investments than any other investments we have made, but I don’t think it is fair to compare alternative credit lender fees with hedge fund manager fees.  In alternative credit, the vast majority of the underlying investments are underwritten loans where the ‘manager’ is the underwriter.  These are lending businesses that are structured as hedge funds because that is how investors like to invest.  Like a bank, most of the underlying ‘managers’ take part of the spread on the capital we invest with them.  I believe it is fair for a lender to receive 2,3 or 4% of the invested capital because, unlike running a hedge fund, finding borrowers and underwriting loans is expensive.  As the number of loans increases, the more it costs the alternative lender to find, underwrite and service these loans.  In a hedge fund, it doesn’t cost a hedge fund manager substantially more if he manages $1 billion in assets or $10 billion.

So, what should an investor do? They should:

>>Focus on their Asset Allocation strategy. This is where the vast majority of the variability of a portfolio’s return comes from.

>>Diversify their portfolio as one of the best way to lose money is in concentrated positions. Many wealth families have seen their fortunes wiped out over the course of two generations due to highly concentrated investments that didn’t work out.

>>Stay disciplined and rebalance when the markets are volatile. Volatility is the friend of the disciplined investor.

>>Be tax efficient as much as possible without hurting your investment portfolio, especially diversification.

>>Like Buffet says, don’t pay mutual fund managers fees needlessly for additional performance they probably will not achieve.


[1] SPIVA Reports and CRSP from University of Chicago

[2] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Efficient-market_hypothesis

[3] http://berkshirehathaway.com/letters/2016ltr.pdf

[4] Source: Mid-year 2016 SPIVA U.S Scorecard: https://us.spindices.com/documents/spiva/spiva-us-mid-year-2016.pdf

[5] http://corporate.morningstar.com/US/documents/AssetFlows/AssetFlowsJan2017.pdf

[6] An asset class fund could be an ETF, index fund or diversified low cost fund that provides an investor with exposure to a specific asset class.

[7] The total expense ratio, or TER, is a measure of the total cost of a fund to the investor.


[8] A reevaluation of a market index that involves adding and removing stocks and re-ranking existing stocks so that the index mirrors current market capitalization and style. http://www.investopedia.com/terms/r/reconstitution.asp

[9] www.morningstar.com

[10] www.morningstar.com

[11] Citigroup World Government Bond Index

[12] Source: Mid-year 2016 SPIVA U.S Scorecard page 13: https://us.spindices.com/documents/spiva/spiva-us-mid-year-2016.pdf