Evolutionary psychology highlights a Stone Age mentality hardwired into our brains and reflected in our behaviour and habits. For example, we tend to organise ourselves into groups in order to adapt more easily to different environments: behaviourally it is far less dangerous to be wrong in a group than to be right on our own. This explains the desire and impulse of an individual investor to follow the crowd.
Soviet-era Polish cinematography is often a source of seemingly absurd catchphrases repeated for generations. “How much sugar is in your sugar” is a classic one from the quirky professor in the 1973 comedy Man-Woman Wanted. When we target particular factors within our equity exposures, I increasingly find myself taking on the role of the professor as I try to answer the question “How much factor is in my factor?”. It might seem like an odd question but we can answer this by relying on simple factor definitions and a holistic approach to combining factors. It’s only once we know what our true exposures are, that we can consider how we avoid any unintended secondary exposures that have the potential to sour the overall outcome.