Lyxor Asset Management has led a research that highlights the growing importance of risk factors and other Smart Beta strategies in generating performance in the current challenging market conditions.
In this research piece, that considers the performance of 3,740 active funds representing €1.2 trn in AUM compared to their traditional benchmarks over a period of ten years, the firm found that European domiciled active funds had a more positive year in 2015, with an average of 47% outperforming their benchmarks, significantly more than 2014 where just 25% outperformed on average.
Looking at the source of this outperformance, the team found a significant part could be attributed to specific risk factors. These ‘risk factors’ describe stocks that exhibit the same attributes or behaviours. Lyxor has identified five key risk factors: Low Size, Value, Quality, Low Beta and Momentum, which together account for 90% of portfolio returns.
European active fund managers for example were overweight Low Beta, Momentum and Quality Factors in 2015, which all outperformed benchmarks. Another aspect of the research compared active fund performance with Minimum Variance Smart Beta indices, which are designed to reduce portfolio volatility. Here the results were even more compelling: whereas 72% of active funds in the Europe category outperformed a traditional benchmark in 2015, only 14% outperformed the Smart Beta index.
These findings demonstrate the increasing role played by Smart Beta strategies that are based on rules that do not rely on market capitalization, as an indispensable pillar of investor portfolio. Factor-investing is one of the various investment strategies referred to as Smart Beta. “In today’s markets characterized by very low interest rates, higher volatility and no market trend in risky asset markets, investors need to look at new forms of portfolio allocation in order to find diversification and generate performance,” Marlene Hassine, head of ETF research at Lyxor Asset Management; commented. “Smart Beta, which can be implemented, either with a more passive or a more active bias, is one of the new tools at the disposal of investors”, she added.