What is Context Summit, and Why Does aiSource Attend?

Whenever we tell our clients that we’ll be out of the office for a few days at the end of January each year for Context Summit, we usually get a long moment of silence. What was formerly known as the AlphaMetrix Conference, has now productively resurrected itself into Context Summit.  Unfortunately, most investors are not familiar with the name or conference, and only a small percentage of the alternative investment community actually attends the event.  Since we get so many questions on what it is, how it works, and what we do, we decided that it was worth a blog post.

What is Context Summit?

Context Summit is a conference designed to facilitate meetings between asset allocators and Hedge Funds and Commodity Trading Advisors.  The conference spans almost three full days, and allows asset allocators/investors to meet face-to-face with portfolio managers of hundreds of hedge funds and CTAs.

The way the event is organized is really what makes it efficient.  Firms like aiSource have many weeks [leading up to the event] to schedule meetings with managers that they have interest in.  Context provides an online system to source managers, and from there, schedule one-on-one, thirty minute meetings with them at the event.  Each hedge fund or CTA has their own private booth at the conference, which allows for a productive, intimate conversation to get a good “gist” of their investment strategy.  The thirty minute meetings last from 8 AM to 5PM, but there is time in between (lunch, after lunch, dinner) to get to know the portfolio managers on a personal level.

Why does aiSource attend?

Outside of the obvious reason of finding new CTA strategies to allocate clients assets to, aiSource attends the event due to the high number of manager meetings we are able to conduct across two business days.  On average, aiSource speaks with one new CTA a week.  At Context Summit, aiSource is able to speak with over twenty five new CTAs over a span of only two days. Granted, the meetings are brief, but they give us a very good idea of whether or not we would be interested in scheduling a follow-up conversation with the CTA manager.

aiSource places a high importance on meeting all of our approved CTA managers face-to-face, and Context Summit gives us an opportunity to do that.  Furthermore, we use opportunities like lunch and dinner to get to know portfolio managers on a personal level, as qualitative analysis is just as important as quantitative analysis.  

Following the event, aiSource shares our notes with the rest of the team, and we schedule our follow-up interviews and start our data gathering process. Overall, Context Summit is an ideal place for a firm like aiSource to meet new, interesting managers.  It allows us to quickly complete step one of our due diligence process, and gives us the opportunity to do many weeks of research work, over a span of only two days.