Correlations show us how assets have moved relative to each other in the past. As multi-asset investors, one of our key objectives is to identify assets that improve diversification. To do this, we try to combine assets with low or even negative correlations. This sounds easy, but can be surprisingly difficult in reality.
Emerging market assets have long been a source of both potential profit and peril for investors. 2017 saw an incredible streak of capital inflows into emerging market equities, bonds and currencies. Whilst returns are still characteristically volatile, this historically maverick asset class has become more mature and resilient than ever before, as was highlighted during February's market sell-off.
‘Less is more!’ That is what correlation wants to brag about to enhance diversification. However, following the financial crisis, many believe that correlations are at an all-time high – is this the end of low correlations? We think not.
In my previous post I outlined the possible benefits of using multiple asset classes to achieve a more stable and attractive level of yield from an income-focused portfolio. In this post I take aim at targeting a fixed level of yield, showing that this objective could mean you miss the big picture.
Much like the choice between TV channels, income investing was easier in the old days. Investors seeking stable and attractive income from their investments needed to look no further than bonds. These days, with yields near historic lows, many investors are looking elsewhere.
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.