Commodities funds on the increase, drawing in staff

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Commodities investing is on steep upwards curve. Headhunters say recruitment in the sector is following a similar trajectory.

Reuters reports that around half the audience at Barclays Capital's European Commodity Investing Conference in Barcelona said this week that they had no exposure to commodities, but 93% said they planned to invest in the asset class over the next three years.

Similarly, the website Investment & Pensions Europe said last week that commodities could become more popular than hedge funds. The forecast was attributed to Credit Suisse, which was reported as saying that commodities were an important method of diversifying assets. Over the medium and long term, the bank said the correlation between commodities and financial assets was lower than the correlation between hedge funds and conventional financial assets.

The 34bn BT pension fund is among those to have started allocating assets to commodities this year, while the Dutch gas company Gasunie is reportedly planning to invest up to 10% of its €800 million pension fund in commodities following an asset/ liability review next month.

Rebecca Austin, co-head of the asset management practice at financial services search firm Principal Search, says recruitment in the sector is hot. "The commodities market is busting out of its skin. There's been a huge uplift in the sector over the past six months, with both long only funds and hedge funds looking to hire."

Austin says one large institutional manager is about to start a commodities hedge fund and is looking for a team to staff it. Talent is in short supply, however: "Commodities specialists are difficult to move and expensive. The new opportunity has to be a lot more compelling than where they are currently."

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