NEW YORK (Reuters) – The Federal Reserve's pivot on tightening U.S. monetary policy this coming year in addition to a improvements on a bond market gauge that could be often known as a harbinger associated with a recession pose a dilemma for investors: how you can remain in stocks without running the potential risk of losing one's shirt when risk assets stumble.

Alternative mutual funds who make use of choices to maintain contact with stocks all the while they tamp down volatility could deliver the buffer between mild gains and massive losses.

"We definitely think now’s a great time to remain examining strategies which can both do market advances and reliably deliver protection," said David Jilek, chief investment strategist at Gateway Investment Advisers in Boston.

The $8.27 billion Gateway Fund – the oldest and largest fund in Morningstar's options-based category – provides a three-decade good running low-volatility equity index options strategies.

The fund, which marries stock ownership with index call and options hedges, aims to capture some of equity market returns though with less volatility.

In your fourth quarter as soon as the S&P 500 Total Return index tanked 13.52%, the fund's Y class shares fell only 7.47%. On the flip side, when stocks rebounded 13.65% inside first quarter, the fund's shares only gained 5.01%.

Like any investment, gaining defense against volatility carries risk. On the longterm, investors may forget big gains by choosing nearterm defense against huge losses.

For instance, a wise investment of $10,000 during the Gateway fund Ten years ago would definitely be worth about $17,500, reported by Refinitiv data. In comparison, identical amount dedicated to the S&P 500 Index's tracking fund, the SPDR S&P 500 ETF Trust (AX:SPY), would’ve returned in excess of $44,000, albeit that has a higher penetration of volatility.

"Investors would be better off just putting their income in passive funds," said Mark Hebner, president of Irvine, California-based independent financial adviser Index Funds Advisors.

Equity markets have enjoyed a timescale of minimal volatility and strong returns throughout the last decade, but which can be set to improve.

Stocks tumbled hard late a year ago, as investors fretted over mounting concerns about global growth, waning corporate profits, U.S.-China trade tensions as well as the Fed's path on rate hikes.

Even though the majority of those losses are recouped, jitters remain, with some worrying the fact that Fed's dovish tilt can be an implicit confirmation of the markets’ the fear of growth.

The recent inversion within the yield curve — the yield around the 10-year U.S. Treasury bond slipped below 3-month T-bill rates the first time in many than a decade – is regarded a vintage signal that a recession may follow in the next one to two years.

"I feel there are a lot of advisers who will be looking for that downside protection, but they don't would like to bet against the market so they don't try to be overallocated to bonds. Our strategy fits that require pretty well," Jilek said.

GRAPHIC: Gateway fund performance, click


Notwithstanding worries an approaching recession, quitting stocks altogether may prove expensive.

"Historically, equity markets tended to form some of the strongest returns during the months and quarters following an inversion," J.P. Morgan strategist Marko Kolanovic said in the recent note.

But it will not be all visiting.

"The very last a couple of years within the '90s bull market were very profitable but very volatile," said Eli Pars, co-chief investment officer at fund manager Calamos Investments in Chicago. "Organic meat delve into a moment prefer that again."

Pars leads technique of the Calamos Hedged Equity Income Fund, which uses a covered call strategy – selling call options against a portfolio of equities – while using puts to limit downside.

"It's aimed toward investors that may be a little less comfortable – either because where we’re also from the cycle or only generally – with full-on experience with the equity market," Pars said.

For 2018 fourth quarter, the fund fell 6.32%, in contrast to a small amount of 13.52% for that S&P 500 Total Return index, according to Morningstar data. In the 2019 first quarter, the fund's shares gained 6.38%, compared with a 13.65% gain for stocks.

The fund, a fairly new spinoff with the $6 billion Calamos Market Neutral Income Fund, is now from managing $10 million to $160 million in the last 18 months, Pars said.

This story corrects in 8th paragraph, corrects databases to Refinitiv from Thomson Reuters in 1st sentence, and deletes repeated words in 2nd sentence