Strategy

Is COVID-19 Rocking Capital Market Foundations?

Jackie Bennion, 23 June 2020

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This was the provocation of a CFA report on Monday on how industry members are adjusting to the economic shocks of containing the virus. The report indicates that managers are unanimously worried about mispriced assets in a distorted market and disagree on the shape of the recovery.

A new report by the CFA Institute on the effects of the crisis on global markets and the investment industry, including the massive fiscal and monetary interventions from states, reveals that fund managers are most concerned about asset pricing and are far more conservative in their recovery estimates than industry and political leaders.

Based on the feedback of roughly 13,000 CFA charter members in April, 96 per cent of managers globally were worried about asset mispricing, largely driven by liquidity dislocation and government support distorting pricing.

The recovery picture was another big concern, with 44 per cent globally seeing a medium-term ‘hockey stick’ recovery, suggesting some level of stagnation for two to three years before a clearer picture emerged; while a third thought a slow U-shaped recovery more likely, seen in a moderate pick-up lasting three to five years before clear acceleration was visible.

Most did not share the more upbeat tone coming from banking CEOs and other industry leaders: "The lockdown has had a massive effect on the markets and in terms of the recovery, our members are more cautious on the form it will take compared with others in the financial services industry who have been more bullish," Margaret Franklin, president and CEO of the CFA said.

Franklin said that a clear majority were either taking a ‘wait and see’ approach with their portfolios or had made no changes. The report found that most of the global jitters were coming from investors in Latin America (44 per cent) and South East Asia (38 per cent), and less so from those in Europe or North America.

The impact on asset management
More immediate has been gauging the scale of bankruptcies and how firms will manage automating their services to bring down costs. Consolidation was a theme across all regions for CFA members, with many seeing a divergent trend between emerging and developed economies as markets as a whole ratchet down their globalized approaches.

"The differences in the impact and response form the industry across developed and developing markets, which this survey reveals, will be key as the coronavirus story unfolds in the coming months,” said Olivier Fines, head of advocacy for EMEA at the institute, and the report's author.

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