Later this month,
will pitch a high-octane,
hedge fund-like stock fund, run by a former hedge fund manager and sold through brokers.
fund, set to launch following a July 24 to Aug. 24 subscription period, will invest in the fastest-growing companies within the economy's fastest-growing industries, according to paperwork filed with the
Securities and Exchange Commission
. The concentrated, all-cap
growth fund's strategies and pricing structure make it look a lot like hedge funds, the largely unregulated funds for wealthy individuals and institutions. The fund, Invesco's first to levy sales charges or
loads, highlights investors' growing demand for aggressive strategies.
"They're bringing hedge fund investing to the consumer level," says Jim Folwell, an analyst with Boston fund consultancy
. "I think it's indicative of increasing investor appetite for aggressive investments. People are perfectly willing to take that kind of risk now, even with the recent volatility we've seen."
Officials at the hot-selling $38 billion Denver fund shop didn't return a call for comment. The fund's $10,000 minimum investment indicates that Invesco is targeting growing ranks of high-net-worth investors. IRA investors will be able to open an account for just $250.
Although the fund can invest in companies of any size, its prospectus says it will probably focus primarily on
mid-cap stocks and will also buy stocks at their initial public offerings. It can also invest a quarter of its assets in foreign companies, and Invesco expects the fund's portfolio
turnover to meet or exceed 200%, meaning the fund may completely remake its portfolio twice each year.
The fund will be managed by Tom Samuelson, who joined Invesco this year. Previously, Samuelson ran energy-sector hedge funds for
Denver Energy Advisors
Like a hedge fund, this aggressive new fund will be able to make big bets that a few stocks' prices will go up or down. The fund is nondiversified, meaning it can sink much more than 5% of the fund's assets in a single stock. Also, the fund can use short sales to profit from falling stock prices.
Short selling, or "shorting," is essentially the opposite of traditional buy-and-hold investing. Instead of buying a stock with the object of selling it at a higher price, you borrow a stock you don't own and immediately sell it. If the stock's price falls you can buy it and return the borrowed shares for a profit. While the practice can help the fund make money in a falling market, it can also lead to big losses if a shorted stock's price heads north.
"I'm sure it'll be fine, unless it blows up," says Folwell.
This will be the first Invesco fund to have a traditional broker-sold fund's pricing structure, with Class A, B, and C shares. Class A shares will levy a maximum 5% front-end sales charge or load. Class B and Class C shares will carry a maximum 5% and 1% back-end load, according to the filing. Each share class also carries a 0.33% annual 12b-1 marketing fee that pays advisers for selling it.
The fund's annual fees also illustrate its hedge-fund leanings. Hedge funds typically charge a 1% annual fee, but managers are given strong incentives to perform because the fund's adviser also typically takes 20% of the fund's profits. After its first year of operation, the Advantage fund's management fee will rise or fall monthly from a 1.5% base depending on whether or not it beats the
Russell 3000 Index
. Depending on how the fund performs, its management fee will range from 0.5% to 2.5%.
Even assuming the management fee stays at 1.5%, the fund's annual expenses are high, ranging from 2.18% on Class A shares to 2.83% on Class B and Class C shares. The average U.S. stock fund's expenses are 1.38%, and the average foreign stock fund's expense ratio is 1.85%, according to
Invesco has used 12b-1 fees to sell its funds through advisers and fee-based brokerage wrap programs (essentially a brokerage's fund supermarket) in the past, but adding loads to this fund and focusing strictly on brokers and advisers probably makes sense for two reasons. First, the fund's aggressive style makes it best to sell through an adviser who can make sure the fund isn't too aggressive for a client and second, the new fund's unique hedge fund-like nature will help it stand out from the crowd of funds pitched to traditional brokers.
The other two major fund companies that have launched or developed funds with some sophisticated hedge fund-like strategies,
, are both broker-sold shops.
Invesco isn't pitching to brokers out of desperation. The growth specialist is the fourth best-selling fund company so far this year, according to Boston fund consultancy
. It's even outselling titans like
, largely thanks to mid-cap growth $6.8 billion
Invesco Dynamics, which has taken in more than $2 billion this year.
If brokers and their clients wrap their arms around this fund, you might see more rolling off the assembly line. The Advantage fund's filing lists it as part of the "Invesco Advantage Series," though no other funds are named. Competitors might do some "me-too" offerings as well.
"If this works, they'll find themselves in a crowded market very soon," says Folwell.