A market wide deleveraging out of equities could be the next big investment risk facing superannuation funds, Mark Delaney, chief investment officer of Australian Super has warned.

Speaking in a debate on dynamic and tactical asset allocation strategies, Delaney saw the risk caused by the similarity of investor positions.

“We’re still overweight stocks. Everyone’s in the same position,” he said pointing out that while valuations were excessive, there were no attractive alternatives to switch into.

“The real debate is when do you get out of stocks?” he said. “It was probably always the case, but it’s more important now [because] there’ll be a stampede if things continue to deteriorate.”

Delaney’s comments come as investors brace for a continuing correction following the 2013 run up in equities, which saw the S&P ASX 200 gain 15 percent, trailing the MSCI World Index’s 24 percent rally.

Matt Hopkins, portfolio manager AMP Capital, another speaker on the panel, said the easy gains were over and the main opportunities were in “what not to hold,” to an audience that included chief investment officers, portfolio managers and trustees from 30 of Australia’s top 50 superannuation funds.

Both Hopkins and Delaney calculated DAA added around 50 basis points to their funds’ annual return.

The discussion included advice on dynamic asset allocation policies.

David Bell, the incumbent chief investment officer of AUSCOAL superannuation, warned: “Be very careful going down the TAA path if you don’t feel like you have that insight. You need to really question whether you have access to information and expertise that the wider market doesn’t.”

 

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