Traditional index funds match market performance and have negligible trading costs with low tracking error—or do they? Not actually—they routinely buy after high price appreciation and sell after high price depreciation. They also have significant trading costs from adding and deleting stocks. We show how index providers can construct better-performing indices that are less prone to performance chasing and have lower turnover.
Investors and their advisors must be alert to managing both pre-tax and after-tax alpha in order for investors to realize the highest possible return from their taxable portfolios. Increasingly, the opportunities to accomplish both goals are within reach of investors through, for example, tax-advantaged smart beta strategies and tax-efficient vehicles such as ETFs.
Although a naïve comparison appears to favor the integrating approach to multi-factor strategy construction, after taking into account both quantitative and qualitative considerations, many investors—those seeking transparency, diversification, minimal governance oversight, and low fees—may find mixing is a more sensible choice.
With sky-high valuations in the US stock market, and what we believe is a tech bubble that has dangerous implications for other areas of the market, we suggest four actions investors can take now to avoid the inevitable bursting of the bubble, and which will likely benefit their portfolios’ long-term performance potential.
By combining a tilt toward companies that display financial discipline and that embrace corporate diversity with the return engine of a fundamentally weighted portfolio, we believe investors in environmental, social, and governance (ESG)–related strategies have the opportunity to earn superior long-term risk-adjusted returns.
Assessing our portfolios’ performance is a necessary activity, but by being aware that measurement over shorter time horizons is dominated by noise, we can better resist the natural human instinct to “do something”—typically selling the underperforming investment at exactly the wrong time—if near-term performance falls below expectations.
When the value trade goes global, investors are poised to benefit. Evidence from the international equity, bond, currency, and commodity markets indicates that the value premium is a global phenomenon that can offer important portfolio diversification. However, the devil is in the details: we argue that the successful implementation of global value strategies critically depends on an economically motivated design.
While somewhat at odds with today’s big-data, warp-speed approach to life and work, thoughtful craftsmanship—the product design and implementation elements that are tangible, measurable, and impactful—can create positive, persistent results in portfolio performance.
Beware the consequences of assuming that elevated CAPE ratios are here to stay, but if they are the "new normal," low future returns are likely to be the "new normal" as well.
Part 3 Building Portfolios: Diversification without the Heartburn The wisdom of diversifying investor portfolios across a wide range of asset classes is indisputable. But diversifying client portfolios beyond mainstream stocks and bonds comes with challenges, starting with clients’ unfamiliarity with diversifying asset classes and a propensity for clients to regret diversifying when results disappoint.