Investing in Unlimited to Help Democratize Access to Alternative Investment Strategies Via Machine Learning
The democratization of wealth management has been one of Citi Ventures’ investing themes for several years, underpinning several investments in our wealthtech portfolio – including Betterment, which created the robo-advisory category; DriveWealth, a pioneer in stock fractionalization that enables its global partners to invest in the U.S. stock market; and iCapital, the leading provider of feeder funds for High Net Worth individuals to access top private equity and hedge fund managers at lower investment minimums than they typically require.
As such, when we met with alternative investment luminary Bob Elliott, the co-founder and CEO of Unlimited, we were intrigued by his vision of democratizing access to hedge funds even further. Unlimited leverages machine learning to effectively bring the “indexing revolution” to hedge funds by manufacturing products that replicate gross-of-fees hedge fund index returns via an ETF wrapper. This can give all investors exposure to hedge funds’ alpha-generating potential without the high fees and adverse tax and liquidity implications of typical fund structures.
Unlimited accomplishes this feat via its proprietary return replication technology. The technology first breaks down hedge fund index returns by major strategy into three main drivers: structural exposures, cyclical factors and tactical tilts. Then, it uses the index returns data as training data for machine learning approaches that infer and replicate real-time positioning across each source of return based on the returns of major public market assets. This process allows Unlimited to create alternative investment indexation products with the high liquidity, transparency and tax-efficiency – as well as the low costs – of ETFs.
Unlimited’s first product, the HFND Multi-Strategy Return Tracker ETF, applies this process to around 3,000 hedge funds in near-real time, matching their returns to a high degree of correlation while charging a small fraction of their typical management and performance fees. Three months after its October 2022 launch, HFND attracted $53 million in assets under management, making it one of the fastest-growing independent active ETF launches of 2022.
Unlimited’s “secret sauce” includes its tremendous founder-market fit, as Bob was previously a member of the Investment Committee of Bridgewater Associates, the world’s largest hedge fund. As an investment industry thought leader, he has counseled some of the world’s foremost policymakers and institutional investors on economic and investing issues. Now, thanks to his growing presence on social media and widely read newsletter, Bob has become a bona fide “finfluencer” – helping deepen the partnership and value that Unlimited can provide to financial advisors beyond its investment products.
Given its promising start, excellent founder-market fit, and compelling mission to democratize access to alternative investment strategies, we are excited to co-lead Unlimited’s Series A round alongside FirstMark. Unlimited plans to use the funding to extend the reach of HFND from family offices and Registered Investment Advisors (RIAs) to retail investors themselves, as well as to continue to launch new low-cost alternative-strategy-tracking ETFs – including those that track global macro, long-short equity and other key investment strategies.
We look forward to helping accelerate Unlimited’s growth via our investment and board position while gaining first-hand insights about evolution in this space.
Our congratulations to Bob and the Unlimited team. Here’s to a more inclusive future for alternative investments!