The Ethna-AKTIV – celebrating 20 years
Thanks for 20 amazing years – here’s to many more!
In February, we are celebrating a milestone that we are very proud of – the Ethna-AKTIV turns 20. We would therefore like to reflect on an amazing couple of decades and look at where we are heading.
A pioneer among multi-asset funds
Back in 2002, after years of honing their skills working for well-known players in the finance industry, Luca Pesarini and Arnoldo Valsangiacomo decided to establish their own fund – the Ethna-AKTIV, a risk-conscious, multi-asset fund with a focus on asset allocation. Initially set up as a ‘family and friends’ fund, the Ethna-AKTIV was designed to offer those close to the pair an opportunity to grow their investment over the long term while, at the same time, minimising their risks.
At that time in Germany, the idea of a fund offering a multi-asset approach was rather revolutionary and the Ethna-AKTIV was a pioneer in the field. However, over time, the fund and its underlying philosophy became so successful that increasingly more investors became aware of the Ethna-AKTIV and invested in it.
This led to Luca and Arno setting up two additional multi-asset funds – the bond-oriented Ethna-DEFENSIV in April of 2007 and the equity-focused Ethna-DYNAMISCH in November of 2009. However, the Ethna-AKTIV remained the flagship fund of the trio and has become a core investment product for many investors.
A proven investment approach
With the Ethna-AKTIV, investors have an actively managed, multi-asset fund that focuses on active asset allocation and rigorous risk management. But what really sets it apart is the fact that it does not follow any benchmarks. This gives the fund’s Portfolio Managers the freedom to invest exclusively in the securities they believe in the most. The fund’s approach, which combines a focus on capital preservation with a high degree of flexibility, has proven its worth many times over, with the fund weathering a range of crises, including the Global Financial Crisis (GFC) in 2008, the euro crisis of 2012, and, more recently, the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic in 2020.
Diversification across asset classes, sectors, and regions is an important part of the Ethna-AKTIV’s investment strategy. In making their allocation decisions, the Portfolio Managers take both the current macroeconomic scenario and the relative attractiveness of each investment opportunity into account. This enables them to react flexibly to different market situations and take advantage of potential returns while, at the same time, managing risks. Equities and bonds remain the core components of the fund’s portfolio, with investments in commodities and, above all, currencies rounding out the allocation.
The basis of the Ethna-AKTIV is a high-quality fixed income portfolio of corporate and government bonds, in which the duration and credit risk are managed flexibly and independently from the individual bonds. In addition, the Ethna-AKTIV can hold an equity allocation of up to 49%, through single stocks and index derivatives, such as ETFs, futures, and listed options. The fund can further diversify its portfolio by including up to 10% in gold and/or other commodities. In implementing its investment strategy, the Portfolio Management Team uses a top-down approach with rigorous macroeconomic and financial market analysis to determine in which asset classes, regions and sectors the fund will invest. This, together with their use of liquid derivatives (also known as a dynamic overlay strategy), enables them to optimise the fund’s risk/return profile.
An experienced team
The experienced Portfolio Management Team consists of founders Luca Pesarini and Arnoldo Valsangiacomo (who have been actively involved in the fund’s day-to-day management since its inception), as well as Michael Blümke - all of whom bring with them a wealth of experience and expertise in managing multi-asset funds. Following ETHENEA’s team approach, they are supported by other experts from within the wider Portfolio Management team.
Although there have been some challenging years, the fund has always been able to weather these, due to the in-depth understanding the Portfolio Managers have of the macroeconomic environment, their clear view of the constantly changing financial markets, and their careful management of the assets entrusted to them. Thanks to the combination of a long-term strategy and flexible tactical adjustments, the Ethna-AKTIV (T-class) was able to deliver a strong performance of 5.14% in 2021.
ESG in focus
The Portfolio Management Team consciously does not follow every trend that arises, but they know that the world is constantly changing and that it is essential to adapt in order meet future challenges head on. Currently, one of their key areas of focus is Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) aspects. The fund’s Portfolio Managers are committed to fulfilling their responsibilities as asset allocators to work towards a more sustainable future, while continuing to deliver a strong performance that meets the ESG expectations of its investors. In 2021, this effort was rewarded with not only four ESG globes from Morningstar, but also an AA ESG rating from MSCI.
To the next 20 years
Over the last 20 years, the Ethna-AKTIV has remained true to itself and its investors. The fund’s Portfolio Managers are committed to managing and safeguarding the fund assets entrusted to them in the best interests of their investors. The credo that Luca and Arno established 20 years ago of reducing risks in times of crisis in order to preserve the capital of their investors remains a hallmark of the fund. The Portfolio Managers not only manage the money invested with them as if it were their own, they treat it with as much care as if the investor had handed them their entire liquid funds. In fact, they believe so strongly in the Ethna-AKTIV that they themselves are invested.
Going forward, they will continue to optimise their approach as necessary, while still retaining the key elements that set the Ethna-AKTIV apart – a focus on asset allocation, a rigorous risk management approach, an emphasis on capital preservation, a high degree of flexibility, and independence from benchmarks and third-party opinions. This will allow the Ethna-AKTIV to take advantage of the opportunities that arise while, at the same time, manage risks, so it can continue to deliver an attractive risk-adjusted performance for its investors in the years to come.
Did you know?
The Ethna-AKTIV started out as a ‘friends and family’ fund
The first of the Ethna Funds, the Ethna-AKTIV, was initially set up as a ‘friends and family’ fund. Over time, the Ethna-AKTIV and its underlying philosophy became so successful that increasingly more investors became aware of the fund and invested in it. This encouraged Luca Pesarini and Arnoldo Valsangiacomo to follow their passion and set up two additional multi-asset funds – the bond-oriented Ethna-DEFENSIV in 2007 and the equity-oriented Ethna-DYNAMISCH in 2009.
The Ethna-AKTIV was among the pioneers in multi-asset funds
It may be hard to imagine now, but in the early 2000s, the multi-asset concept was not particularly well known or widespread. When Luca Pesarini and Arnoldo Valsangiacomo set up the Ethna-AKTIV, an actively managed multi-asset fund with the aim of preserving capital and achieving stable returns over the long term, they were among the first.
The fund started out with a slightly different name
Originally, the Ethna-AKTIV was known as the Ethna-AKTIV E. The E stood for Europe, which was the core of the fund’s investment universe at the time. As both of the other funds in the Ethna family were focused on OECD countries, and to optimise investment opportunities, the Ethna-AKTIV’s universe was also expanded to the OECD and on 31 December 2014 the ‘E’ was dropped.
The Ethna-AKTIV shares its birth year, 2002, with the official introduction of the euro banknotes and coins as legal tender.
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