Some of the world’s best finance industry professionals and academics came together to exchange research and ideas at the 2018 Griffith Alternative Investments Conference in November.

Hosted at the Marriott Hotel in Brisbane City, the day-long conference and dinner event drew on attendees’ broad expertise to discuss what is becoming an increasingly important part of investors’ portfolios, Griffith Centre for Personal Finance and Superannuation director Professor Robert Bianchi said.

“Griffith University and its team of researchers have a respectable track record in the field of alternative investments,” he said.

“Our researchers have expertise in the areas of infrastructure, commodities, energy markets, carbon markets, socially responsible investing (SRI) and active alternative investment strategies.”

“This conference brings together the world’s best researchers and industry professionals to share the latest research and new ideas in this important segment of the finance industry.”

Professor Stephen Brown (NYU) delivers his keynote presentation.

Alternative investments — as distinct from conventional investments — are assets and strategies beyond the traditional holdings in cash, stocks and bonds. It is a wide-ranging term that encompasses assets and strategies including real estate, private equity, venture capital, hedge funds, artworks, cryptocurrencies and more.

Throughout the day, the audience heard keynote presentations from distinguished guests including Professor Stephen Brown (New York University Stern School of Business; Monash Business School), Mr Mathew Kaleel (Portfolio Manager — Diversified Alternatives, Janus Henderson Investors), Dr Scott Pappas (Senior Portfolio Manager, Cbus Super Fund), and Griffith’s own Professor Michael Drew.

The event, which was opened by Griffith Business School Dean (Academic) Professor Fabrizio Carmignani, also consisted of several smaller breakout sessions to explore topics such as commodity futures markets in China, solar panels as marketable debt securities and long-short strategies using industry-based exchange traded funds, among others.

These sessions drew on research by academics at Griffith University as well as hearing from colleagues at institutions such as Macquarie, Bond, the University of Melbourne and RMIT before the day’s discussions culminated in a dinner celebration and presentation of the Best Paper Award.

(L-R) Prof Michael Drew, Dr Scott Pappas, Prof Stephen Brown, Mr Mathew Kaleel and Prof Robert Bianchi.

This year’s winning paper was Commodity futures speculation in China, co-authored by Dr Di Mo (RMIT), Griffith’s Dr John Fan and PhD candidate Tingxi Zhang.

The paper puts forth the most comprehensive study to date on investing in commodity futures in China, investigating the performance of 12 systematic risk premiums explored in commodities literature.

The researchers say their paper highlights the distinction between the US and Chinese commodity markets, and poses challenges to the existing literature on alternative commodity risk premiums.

“We at the Griffith Centre for Personal Finance and Superannuation would like to sincerely thank all the participants who helped make this year’s Alternative Investments Conference a resounding success,” Professor Bianchi said.

“The keynote presentations and breakout sessions provided rare insight into one of the finance industry’s most exciting emergent segments, and it was a privilege to share in such robust scholarly discussion with fellow academics and industry experts alike.”

The Griffith Centre for Personal Finance and Superannuation is an academic centre within Griffith Business School. The Centre is a source of expertise on, and a centre of excellence in, the areas of personal finance and superannuation, investment, professionalisation of financial services, and financial education.

For more information about the Centre and its activities, see its website.