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Tag Archives: factor indices

Sep 13, 2022

Defense and Volatility

As the equity market has waned and waxed in 2022, investor interest has naturally turned toward ways of mitigating portfolio losses. Some factor indices can serve this goal, but investors searching for a defensive strategy need to define their search carefully. It’s natural to think that defensive strategies will be less volatile than the market…

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Aug 30, 2022

Defense in the Balance

Balanced portfolios traditionally (and definitionally) hold a mix of stocks and bonds. Stocks have been the better-performing asset over time, but with a level of volatility that many investors find unacceptably high. Although bonds are usually included in a balanced portfolio more as a volatility dampener than a return enhancer, during the bull market in…

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Aug 2, 2022

Time Sensitivity and Volatility Management

We all know that in the long run, the U.S. stock market has performed very well, compounding at well over 10% per year for nearly a century. We also know that sometimes the market performs very poorly, as the S&P 500®’s 20% decline in the first half of 2022 reminds us. For an investor who…

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Sep 8, 2020

Even Smarter Beta in South Africa? – Diversifying and Optimizing

The equity risk premia from factors (such as quality, momentum, and low volatility) have been widely accepted and adopted by investment practitioners across the globe and South Africa alike. The belief by many is that exposure to these risk factors, in addition to the market, could reward investors over the long term. While the long-term…

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Jul 27, 2020

How Factors Behaved Differently in the Australian Market in the First Half of 2020

In our paper “How Smart Beta Strategies Work in the Australian Market,” we examined the long-term performance characteristics of S&P DJI’s Australian factor indices in different market trends. In the first half of 2020, the Australian equities market had a roller coaster response to the coronavirus outbreak, global market crash, and government stimulus packages. While…

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Jul 13, 2020

Battle of Factors: Low Volatility versus High Beta

2020 has surprised us all with a number of firsts. Not only did we witness wild swings in the market from one quarter to the next, we also saw an unusual performance of commonly followed factors. While this blog will not attempt to predict factor performance, it will address recent factor behavior and put this…

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Jun 17, 2020

Is ESG a Factor? The S&P 500 ESG Index’s Steady Outperformance

Since launching the S&P ESG Index Series, we have been continuously asked the same question: Can environmental, social, and governance (ESG) be considered a factor that outperforms? In short, since its launch in January 2019, the S&P 500® ESG Index has outperformed (see Exhibit 1). We further analyzed the performance characteristics of the S&P 500…

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May 12, 2020

Factors and Factor Indices

There is a subtle but important distinction between factors and factor indices.  “Factor” denotes an attribute with which long-term excess returns are thought to be associated.  Fama and French, for instance, famously found that small size and cheap valuation were factors in this sense.  A number of other variables – prominently including momentum, low volatility,…

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Nov 11, 2019

A Way of Seeing

A wise man told me years ago that sometimes the things we see are less important than our way of seeing.  As more formerly-active investors begin to use passive vehicles, it’s useful to consider if there’s a distinctly index-centric way of seeing, and what its elements might be.  I think that there are at least…

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Jan 30, 2018

Factor Investing 101

For many years, active fund managers and institutional investors have often used a factor-based approach either to strategically construct portfolios or to tilt their portfolios toward well-known risk factors, such as low volatility, value, momentum, dividend, size, and quality, to capture the factor risk premium. Investors seeking to identify skilled active managers look to dissect…

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