Investing Insights Regarding Smart Beta Strategies

At this month’s 2017 Morningstar ETF Conference, Alex Bryan interviewed Chris Brightman, the chief investment officer of Research Affiliates, to discuss concerns regarding smart beta products. Here are some highlights: Bryan points out that while data provided by Research Affiliates shows strong back-tested performance for some smart-beta strategies, the “live” record of many of these products has been weak. Brightman clarified that his findings are not restricted to smart-beta strategies. “If we look across the full range of ETF strategies that come to market, active and passive, what we find is that the performance leading up to the launch of […]

Morningstar Study Analyzes Strategic-Beta Fund Performance

A study conducted by Morningstar, summarized in a recent article by the firm’s Alex Bryan, CFA, attempts to determine whether investors can duplicate strategic-beta fund performance with a combination of market cap-weighted indexes. The study compares the performance of a group of strategic beta funds to a “replicating portfolio of six style benchmarks for its relevant universe.” The purpose of the study, writes Bryan, is not necessarily to suggest that investors should replace strategic beta funds, but rather to offer insight as to whether they “provide exposure that’s distinctive from a combination of various cap-weighted indexes.” According to the article, […]

Vanguard’s McNabb Says Data Doesn’t Support ETF Bubble Fears

Although the shift to ETFs over the past ten years has been dramatic—since the start of 2008, the industry has attracted nearly $2.8 trillion in investment dollars (according to the Investment Company Institute)—Vanguard chief executive Bill McNabb told The Financial Times that he doesn’t see this as a “systemic” trajectory indicative of a market bubble. In the interview, McNabb argues that index tracking funds represent less than 15 percent of the equity market capitalization around the world, and less that 5 percent of daily trading volumes in global financial markets. [Vanguard, the article says, has “set industry records for new […]

BlackRock’s Ang on Factor Investing

Andrew Ang, who runs factor investing at BlackRock, argues that factor investing remains “the language of investment excellence” despite naysaying by the likes of Vanguard’s Jack Bogle and smart-beta pioneer Rob Arnott of Research Affiliates. This according to a recent article in Forbes. Black Rock, the article reports, has been “firing human stock pickers and betting that factor investing is the future of the struggling active-investment-management business.” It adds that Ang expects smart-beta ETFs to reach $1 trillion by 2020, and has focused his firm’s offerings on six factors; small-size, value dividend yield, momentum and quality (for return enhancement), and […]

Zweig: Cheaper Share Prices Can Be an Illusion

When ETF shares appear to be trading at a discount to the index of stocks they hold, according to a recent article in The Wall Street Journal by columnist Jason Zweig, “the apparent bargain is an illusion.” “Stock indexes, and by extension the funds that are based on them, are averages,” writes Zweig, adding, “Investment regulators say that fund companies are free to calculate and report an average valuation any way they wish, so long as it doesn’t mislead or deceive investors. So you should pay attention to how these funds report valuations.” Zweig cites examples of firms and the […]