Fordham University's Gabelli School of Business Announces Results of Inaugural Alternative Investments Survey

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Student-run Alternative Investments survey reveals: Women more likely to invest in alternatives than men; Those using advisors prefer hedge funds over other alternative investments; Age significantly moderates the decision to invest in alternatives.

Fordham University’s Gabelli School of Business announces the results of the first student-initiated alternative investments survey, revealing the habits and beliefs of individual investors related to real estate, hedge funds and private equity investing. Covering a range of topics including gender, education, age and income, the survey was done in response to the increased availability of retail alternative products and the role these products play in retirement planning. As part of the recently launched alternative investments program at the Gabelli School of Business, the survey was conducted under the supervision and direction of Kevin R. Mirabile, Ph.D., who developed the new concentration of alternative investments and who teaches financial management and a specialty course in hedge-fund investing.

“The Gabelli School of Business’ survey is breaking new ground in understanding investor preferences and behavior while also shedding light on the convergence of the mutual fund and hedge fund industries,” said Brian Jacobs, a mutual fund industry veteran with more than 25 years of experience, a managing partner at New York-based Jacobs Strategic Consulting, LLC and a member of the Advisory Board at the Gabelli School of Business, headed by Donna Rapaccioli, Ph.D.

Key findings of the survey include:

  •     Men are more familiar with alternatives than women, but women are more likely to invest in alternative investments in the future. 49 percent of women surveyed own alternatives today, compared to 63 percent of men. But of the women who do not currently own alternatives, 65 percent would consider doing so in the future in contrast to 53 percent of men.
  •     Respondents who follow the recommendations of a financial advisor are more likely to invest in alternatives today, specifically in hedge funds. 81 percent of males use financial advisors to inform their decisions about alternatives versus only 68 percent of females.
  •     Age also influences investing in alternatives, as just 9 percent of those born before 1963 invest in hedge funds versus 31 percent of respondents under the age of 50.
  •     Real estate is the most understood and hedge funds are the least understood type of alternative investments. 50 percent of respondents named loss of principal as the biggest risk when considering alternatives. However, respondents with an advanced degree are more concerned with loss of principal than respondents without an advanced degree.
  •     Older respondents are more skeptical that increased regulation and market reform improves the safety of alternative investments.

“The survey results are broadly consistent with the way we think income and net worth influence attitudes about risk and reward,” Mirabile said. “However, these findings allow us to focus on how these beliefs are impacted by gender, age and education, as well as how they are changing over time. The finding of this inaugural survey will be used as a basis for academic research and student and faculty evaluation of how various factors influence alternative investments choice over time.”

Mirabile recently published a book on hedge fund investing, Hedge Fund Investing: A Practical Approach to Understanding Investor Motivation, Manager Profits, and Fund Performance (Wiley and Sons 2013), completed his doctoral work in finance and economics at Pace University, and is a certified public accountant and a member of AICPA and the Greenwich Roundtable.

The survey collected responses to 30 questions from 250 individuals with an annual net income that ranged from $100,000 to greater than $1 million, and reported net worth that ranged from $250,000 to greater than $2.5 million. The respondents were 56 percent male and 44 percent female, 75 percent used financial advisors when considering alternatives, 23 percent were employed in the financial services industry, 36 percent of respondents were below age 34, 17 percent were between ages 35-50 and 47 percent were over age 50.

The survey was created and the questions designed based upon research done by a team of students in the alternative investments club. The students helped design the questions, collect and analyze the results and will prepare the related report to be issued on the survey findings.

Results of this survey will be made available in June 2013. For a copy of the survey, please contact Shin-Jung Hong at


About Fordham University
Founded in 1841, Fordham is the Jesuit University of New York, offering exceptional education distinguished by the Jesuit tradition to more than 15,100 students in its four undergraduate colleges and its six graduate and professional schools. It has residential campuses in the Bronx and Manhattan, a campus in West Harrison, N.Y., the Louis Calder Center Biological Field Station in Armonk, N.Y., the London Centre at Heythrop College, University of London, in the United Kingdom.

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Shin-Jung Hong
Fordham University
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