Themed investments pick up as returns on bond, equity dip, Deutsche Bank says

Investors look at technology, healthcare and infrastructure to add alternative assets to their portfolios

Deutsche Bank, Taunusanlage 12, frankfurt, Hessen, Deutschland, Marcel Hoffmann, Olaf Scherf, Sabine Collet, Stefan Werner, Clemens Usner, Jacqueline Duschkin, Markus Mueller, Johannes Mueller, Samantha Gruendler, Michael Hahl, Christian Nolting
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Softer returns in equities and debt market investments are pushing investors globally to look at investment themes such as channelling funds into sectors including technology, healthcare and infrastructure to add alternative assets to their portfolios.

"If you look at strategic asset allocations, returns on equities and bonds are now coming down a bit," said Christian Nolting, the global chief investment officer at Deutsche Bank's wealth management division.

"So globally the average annual return on equities was around 8 per cent; now it is coming down to 6 per cent. That has some implications for portfolio construction and there's a need for alternatives to come in now.

"Secondly, given the low interest rate environment, you might find it difficult to get very high returns [in the bond market] over the next four to five years, assuming yields don't change massively. That's our view."

Mr Nolting, who helps to oversee the 215 billion (Dh728bn) invested assets of the German bank's wealth management arm, said the response to investment themes has been positive. Technology, particularly, cybersecurity has been an area of focus, while infrastructure and healthcare sectors have also received traction with investors.

Deutsche Bank's wealth management unit, which advises affluent clients, family offices and quasi-government institutional investors, has experienced the same enthusiasm for its investment themes from clients based the Arabian Gulf region, he said.

The number of family offices and wealthy individuals in the region has "considerably increased and so has the level of sophistication [of investments]" since 2009 when Mr Nolting first started coming to the GCC. 

"Cybersecurity – everyone knows about it and admits that it is very important. But if you ask them if they have invested enough in this sector, they'll probably say that there is more we need to do," Mr Nolting said, adding that many funds are going into cybersecurity firms not only in the US but also across the globe.

"There are some, but not many, firms which are listed so investments are going through private equity and via venture capital," he noted.

The growing need for infrastructure spending and the healthcare sector is also on investors' radars.

"This is a global theme and people from this region are interested in investing in the theme as well," Mr Nolting said. The region accounts for about a third of the world proven oil reserves and has vast wealth with a global investment outlook.

"I see it when I am talking to clients."