Outlook 2H 2024

Executive summary

We favour a more balanced positioning across and within asset classes. We believe that bond yields, including those on government bonds - something new for this segment - are attractive. Credit carry is attractive relative to corporate fundamentals, while long-dated government bonds offer protection in more difficult times in addition to their real yield.

Favourable economic data and the prospect of interest rate cuts, i.e. the ingredients of the soft-landing narrative, together with solid quarterly earnings, justify a constructive stance on equity markets. However, we would like to see a broader participation in the market rally to reduce the fragility of the bull cycle that started in early 2023.

While maintaining an allocation to the technology sector and the famous seven giants, we are balancing our portfolios with exposure to small/mid-caps and the value style, where valuations appear to offer significant catch-up potential.


Economic Outlook

Real GDP forecasts lowered for the US and Japan. China and euro area upgraded

Monetary easing becomes more widespread

Fed and Bank of England will remain on hold until September and August, respectively

FOMC dot plot implies only one 25 bps cut by year-end and four in 2025

Fannie Mae predicts that US mortgage rates will average 7% in 2024

Key Risks

Sharper slowdown in the US as labour market deteriorates sharply

US/China and EU/China trade war intensifies

Sovereign debt crisis forces governments to cut spending

Populist drift at the ballot box, testing the foundations of our democracies


Investment Convictions

Fixed income generally does well when the Fed pauses

Long-dated government bonds as a hedge against renewed recession fears

Inflation dynamics favour European over US rates (10-Year +)

EM corporate bonds offer wider spreads and diversification benefits

Prefer EU Fantastic Five to US Magnificent Seven

Small/Mid-Caps offer compelling valuation and economic sensitivity

Add value stocks for their relative valuation and diversification


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  • OUTLOOK 2024

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Forum Finance wins four awards
at the WealthBriefing Swiss EAM
Awards 2024

Forum Finance wins four awards
 at the WealthBriefing Swiss EAM
Awards 2024

Geneva, 7 March 2024 – Geneva-based independent asset manager The Forum Finance Group SA has won four major awards at the WealthBriefing Swiss EAM Awards 2024. In particular, it was declared winner by the jury in the Next Generation Program, Wealth Planning Team, Servicing LatAm Clients categories and Cyrille Urfer was ranked best Chief Investment Officer (CIO).

Announced during the prize-giving ceremony held last night in Zurich, the awards showcase the ‘best-of-breed’ players in the Swiss independent asset management industry. They recognise outstanding companies, selected through a rigorous process and deemed by a panel of experts to have ‘demonstrated innovation and excellence during the last year’. The independent jury comprises specialist consultants, representatives of custodian banks and technology solution providers, as well as other industry experts. These prestigious accolades are particularly important in the current challenging times as they provide clients reassurance in the solidity and sustainability of their asset manager’s business and operating model.

With regard to the Next Generation Program, the panel was ‘impressed with Forum Finance’s internal NextGen program, as well as with their commitment to educating clients around preparing for the Next Generation. In particular, Forum Finance hosted events in Geneva for their clients’ children to introduce them to the world of finance and showing the importance of taking responsibility’.

Concerning the Wealth Planning Team, judges felt that ‘hiring a dedicated wealth planner at partner level, who is focused on NextGen topics, but also in succession planning for their entrepreneurs/clients gives the firm a deep understanding of delivering on client’s needs’.

In relation to Servicing LatAm Clients, the jury found ‘very impressive that Forum Finance has had for over 10 years a dedicated very senior team taking care of the Latin American clientele, with a wealth management offering encompassing wealth planning, portfolio management, asset management and family office services’.

Finally, the expert panel voted Cyrille Urfer best Chief Investment Officer (CIO) on the grounds of his impressive career working for big commercial banks and sovereign investment authorities, as well as leading private banks and asset managers. A veteran Swiss banker, with over 25 years of experience in EU and Middle East, Cyrille Urfer is an internationally recognised expert for his expertise in investment strategy, assessment and selection of managers/strategies, and portfolio management.

Hippolyte de Weck, Managing Partner and CEO of Forum Finance, stated: “We are truly honoured to have our strengths and achievements recognized by these four industry awards. Over the past 30 years, our company has grown significantly to become today one of the leading players in the Swiss market. We are particularly proud of the prize for Best CIO, as providing sound investment advice and achieving superior performance remains at the heart of our business.”

Indeed, having anticipated the evolution of the wealth management industry, Forum Finance has strengthened its structure and organisation over the last few years, as evidenced by the CISA licence granted by FINMA in 2015 and its registration as investment adviser with the US SEC in 2016. Forum Finance invests constantly in its research, investment management and wealth advisory resources, as well as in technology, enabling it to respond effectively to the changing needs of its clients.

For additional information, please contact :

Egon Vorfeld
The Forum Finance Group SA
T: +41 (0)22 552 83 00
E: vorfeld@ffgg.com

Ricardo Payro
Payro Communication Sàrl
T: +41 (0)22 322 13 17
E: :rp@payro.ch

About Forum Finance

Founded in 1994 in Geneva, Forum Finance offers private banking and asset management services to a high-end global clientele. It has 25 employees who manage and supervise around CHF 2 billion. The company is authorised under the CISA licence by FINMA and is registered with the SEC as investment adviser.

Outlook 2024

Executive summary

The year 2024 will be marked by the continued normalization of monetary policy around the world, heightened geopolitical tensions and uncertainty about the decline in inflation.

Rising interest rates and bond yields have fundamentally changed the basis for all investment decisions. This paradigm shift will favour bond investors, who will benefit from higher expected returns, but will further weaken highly indebted actors, especially governments.

Although interest rates have peaked, structural inflationary pressures, such as rising protectionism or the energy transition, will certainly increase the risk of higher inflation than we have seen in recent decades.

As we enter 2024, undoubtedly a year of transformative change, investors' agility will be an asset in seizing the opportunities that volatile markets will offer in the quest not only for wealth preservation but also for real growth.

Economic Outlook

Slower growth ahead but still slightly above potential

US growth to outperform developed peers

China growth upgraded to 4.6% in 2024

Headline inflation falls in all G10 economies except Japan

Core inflation has also fallen, but at a slower pace

Developed central banks have reached the end of their hiking cycle

Monetary policy normalization underway in Japan


Best Investment Opportunities

High nominal and real yields provide a means of locking in cash flows

Front end of curve attractive due to flat yield curve beyond 3 years

Interest rate cuts make cash less appealing

Emerging market corporate debt offers attractive carry

Yields of around 8% for high yield are rare and followed by double-digit returns

European equities set to outperform US equities

Small caps or equal-weighted index trading at significant discount to large caps

Favourable risk/reward profile for Chinese equities


Key Risks

Rising inflation could delay central bank rate cuts

US consumer spending slows sharply

China’s economic woes persist

Unchecked geopolitical tensions and conflicts


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  • OUTLOOK FOR 2024

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Investment Perspectives 2023 | Mid Year review & Outlook

Executive Summary

Risky assets thrived

After a tough 2022 for equity and fixed income assets, triggered by the rapid pace and magnitude of the hiking cycle initiated by the Fed and ECB, the first half of 2023 offered a relief with strong return of financial assets despite uninspiring level of economic activity in Germany and China. The Government and Investment Grade bonds had a reasonable start to the year while commodities suffered from economic growth concerns. Equity indices posted strong results, but return differences across sectors and stocks were particularly notable. The dispersion within equity markets became particularly accentuated during the second quarter after the markets had given back most of their initial strong performance at the start of the year due to the collapse of a few banks in February and March, reiterating the nasty bite fast rising rates can have on corporate balance sheets.

Narrow equity market participation

Concentrated portfolios exposed primarily to large technology stocks were rewarded. Only a handful of tech shares have been responsible for most of this year’s gains despite higher rates. Indeed, the seven-largest companies in the S&P 500, all tech companies, are up 86% on average year to date!! Meanwhile, the other 493 companies, in aggregate, have barely moved this year. In Europe, technology companies ASML and SAP have been joined by LVMH and L’Oréal as key contributors to the market surge explaining more than 40% of the index return.

U.S. growth resilient, Germany in recession

Early June, the World Bank revised its forecast for US growth for 2023 to 1.1% from 0.5% in January while China’s growth is expected to climb to 5.6%, compared to a 4.3% in January. The modest rebound in activity in China will primarily benefit domestic sectors, in particular services. Euro area GDP growth is now expected at 1.1% and 1.6% in 2023 and 2024 respectively. The key positive change underpinning this revision is the fall in energy prices and abating supply-chain disruptions.

Hawkish tone reiterated by the FED and ECB

The persistence of core inflation has emerged as a key risk as it could lead to more monetary tightening. However, lower energy prices have reduced headline inflation, with positive effects on demand and financial markets. The FED decided to hold rates unchanged in June, but most members agreed that at least one additional 25 basis points (bps) hike will be required by year end. In June, the ECB raised its deposit facility rate by 25 basis points (bps) to 3.5% and made it clear that further rate hikes should be expected at the next meeting in July, while in Japan the Bank of Japan remained dovish and will continue to support the fragile economic recovery despite stronger-than-expected inflation.

Commodities weak again

Commodity index recorded negative returns in Q1 and Q2, making it the worst asset class in our investment universe with -5.0% and -2.5% respectively as energy prices fell as global growth slowed, energy conservation and mild weather helped reducing energy demand, while rapid expansion of LNG capacities mitigated pressures in natural gas market. Prices of base metals eased due to weaker global demand in particular the slower-than-expected demand rebound in China. Additionally, increased metal supply has put additional pressure on prices. In precious metals, gold delivered a positive return (+5.23% in 1H).

Too few equities in risk-on

Our defensive allocation throughout 1H favoured alternative investments such as hedge funds for their ability to seize opportunities in periods of high volatility and to limit drawdowns and gold, which performs reasonably well in periods of stress and inflation. We maintain our relatively defensive allocation with a preference for alternatives at the expense of equities. Our allocation remains well diversified, which should benefit from some inevitable mean-reversion or provide some protection if markets take a turn for the worse.


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  • ASSET CLASS VIEWS – 2023 - JUNE 2023

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Investment Perspectives 2023

Executive Summary

2022 was one of the most challenging years ever for investors

The past year was a brutal one for investors. The tightening of monetary policies was not a surprise, but it proved to be far more pronounced and damaging than anticipated for many asset classes. This fast-paced tightening of monetary policies, due to ongoing inflation pressures, and the war in Ukraine were the main drivers for the significant weakness of markets. China’s zero-COVID policy provided another headwind as its economy fared much worse than forecast. In a risk-off environment, there was hardly anywhere to hide, and this was reflected by the dreadful performance of US Treasuries, considered to be amongst the safest of assets. Volatility in the bond markets reached crisis levels and remained very elevated for most of the year. This stress spilled over to the other asset classes, and the high level of correlation between equities and bonds meant that diversification failed to protect well against portfolio losses.

The breath-taking speed of the Federal Reserve’s monetary policy tightening

2022 will be remembered as the year when the era of extremely accommodative monetary policies finally came to an end. Since the great financial crisis, the major central banks had lowered interest rates to zero, or even into negative territory. Investors had been expecting interest rates to rise and central banks’ balance sheets to contract in 2022, but they were not prepared for what took place effectively. The Federal Reserve’s shift from a very accommodative monetary policy to a very restrictive one took place in a matter of months only, as the size of rate increases quickly rose from 0.25% in March to 0.75% at four consecutive FOMC meetings between June and November. The US central bank hiked its rates by a total of 4.25% in 2022 to a range of 4.25% to 4.50%, with other major central banks taking a similar path, even if not at the same pace. The latest interest rate decisions and communications from the main central banks have confirmed their hawkish stance and determination to bring down inflation.

Investors will remain focused on inflation trends and geopolitics

GDP growth is expected to slow in 2023, with a high risk that the global economy could slide into recession as growth expectations for the United States and Europe are very low or negative. Much will depend on the pace of deceleration of inflation and the trajectory of interest rate increases. The task of central banks around the world is extremely challenging and the risks of a damaging policy mistake are much higher than average. Economic prospects could be boosted if China finally manages to reopen its economy successfully. Geopolitical threats remain elevated. There are many sources of tensions across the world, but one cannot exclude the possibility of some unexpected positive developments even if we are not holding our breath.

Amid elevated uncertainty we maintain a cautious asset allocation

The tightening of monetary policies has erased some of the markets’ distortions and excesses of the previous years, meaning that fundamentals should matter more now that the era of easy money has come to an end. Valuations have improved for most asset classes, but uncertainty remains prevalent on many issues. Despite last year’s derating, equities still face headwinds. That largely explains why we have maintained our overweight allocation to alternative strategies and have increased our fixed income exposure recently in view of its improved risk/return profile.


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