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Posts Tagged ‘diversification’

The-Beginner_s-Guide-to-Index-Investing

According to SPIVA India Year End Report 2017, S&P BSE 100 climbed 33.3% whilst S&P BSE MidCap rose by 49.9% for the calendar year 2017. Stellar returns! Question is, did your actively managed mutual fund do the same? As per the SPIVA report, 59.38% of large cap funds under performed their benchmark, whereas 72.09% of mid/small cap funds under performed their benchmarks.

We have started to notice a trend in Indian Equities where the actively managed funds are in the nascent stages of showing continuous under performance viz a viz their respective benchmarks. Even with a three-year time line, 53% of large cap funds have under performed whilst a whopping 80% of mid/small cap funds have under performed their benchmarks!

These data points certainly raise the question of whether passive managed investment strategies should be seriously considered now. Are funds and ETFs which passively just track a particular index the next big thing?

Two major reasons to consider a passive investment option into equity are

  1. Returns especially over long investment horizons and for those who wish to nullify fund manager bias; and
  2. Lower Costs

1

As you may notice, Index Funds/ETF’s can provide sufficient returns over long terms, though they are yet not on the same level as the top performing actively managed equity funds.

2

This is where passive managed strategies truly out do actively managed funds i.e. significantly lower costs.

Besides the above mentioned points, passively managed investments also provide added benefits such as (1) reducing fund manager bias, (2) a diversification strategy that can allow for less volatility, (3) passive funds are more favourable treated from a tax perspective when compared debt instruments.

One recent event that puts passive funds in a more positive light is the recent SEBI notification and the mutual fund recategorization. Due to the clear-cut guidelines for large cap funds i.e. can only invest into stock 1-100 as per market cap, it is likely that fund managers will find it increasingly difficult to generate favourable alpha considering the high costs associated with these funds. Therefore index funds that capture the Sensex or Nifty may find significant favor moving forward as an alternate to large cap funds.

However, they are certain limitations to Index Funds/ETFs in India, such as:

  1. Fewer options: They are not a ton of options available for the investor in the Index Funds/ETF space. Therefore one requires to do thorough research before choosing which instrument to select.
  2. Onus still on Active Managed Funds: The top quartile of actively managed equity funds, which also have most of the assets under management, continue to currently outperform their respective indices in certain time horizons, despite their higher costs. And this trend will not vanish over night.
  3. Inefficient Markets: Unlike Western Countries, where efficient markets negate the need for active management, the Indian Equity Market is still somewhat far from that state. Hence opportunities continue to remain which can be exploited by experienced fund managers/investors.
  4. Liquidity and Tracking Error: For ETFs, liquidity has been a major concern. Retail investors are often forced to hold onto their investments even when they would wish to redeem the same.

Furthermore, how well the fund/ETF tracks the relative index needs to be assessed. A lower tracking error would justify the inclusion of that instrument into your portfolio.

3

What should you do?

At Plan Ahead Wealth Advisors, we feel as an investor it is crucial to introduce passively managed instruments into your portfolio at this juncture. While the debate of active v/s passive will go on, it feels certain to us that a blend of strategies is the need of the hour. What instruments you choose and the allocation of them in your portfolio depends on your risk profile as well as your investment objectives and return expectations.

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According to Investopedia, “Geographical Diversification” is the practice of diversifying an investment portfolio across different geographic regions so as to reduce the overall risk and improve returns on the portfolio.

As with diversification in general, geographical diversification is based on the premise that financial markets in different parts of the world may not be highly correlated with one another. For example, if the US and European stock markets are declining because their economies are in a recession, an investor may choose to allocate part of his portfolio to emerging economies with higher growth rates such as China, Brazil and India.

There are two major advantages in diversifying one’s investment portfolio based on geography:

  • Taking Advantage of Opportunities in other Strong Economies:

A significant benefit to a geographic diversification of assets has to do with the way it allows you to mitigate risk by taking advantage of stable economies elsewhere in the world. It’s no secret that some economies are struggling to recover from the trying economic times of the last few years. Other countries, however, have seen higher growth rates due to a variety of factors. International portfolios have been shown, in general, to outperform domestic ones, this is because when there are so many markets to choose from, it is unlikely that the same country will ever repeatedly achieve the highest level of growth. With improved access to international markets and investment instruments such as mutual funds bringing down the costs, an additional option to further diversify has been to buy in international markets.

Picture1

(Source: Bloomberg, Kotak MF. As of 31st Jan, 2018)

The above returns data chart clearly shows that while the Indian Equity Markets have performed significantly in the last year, there were opportunities elsewhere which proved even better. Diversification into such economies can therefore result in better yielding portfolios.

  • Balancing out the risks:

While chasing better returns might definitely be one aspect of any investment portfolio, it is also crucial to understand how any strategy helps in mitigating the associated risks that are part of every investment decision. Geographic diversification provides a much needed balance that all investors strive for. If one of your assets is located in a part of the world that is or could be vulnerable, the investments in other geographies could compensate or buffer any unexpected losses. This is because despite the impact of globalisation, geographies and economies can still have limited correlation between them, and over time international markets could perform very differently to domestic markets. Following is a chart that shows how various sectors form part of some regions around the world, in % of total market capitalization:

Picture2

(Source: credit suisse global investment returns yearbook 2015)

As you may notice, different regions give different weightages to every sector. Thus by accessing these regions, you can in essence, reduce investment risks in individual sectors and therefore your entire portfolio as a whole.

Since the cycles that drive business and investment are experienced at different times in different countries, foreign markets seldom move in perfect tandem with each other. Losses in one market may be offset by gains in another. Geographical diversification significantly reduces the overall level of volatility and exposure to external factors. For an investor, theoretically this would mean that the more diversified your assets, the safer is your money. However it is true that a significant black swan event, such as the financial crisis of 2008, will likely deplete any such benefits, especially in the short term immediately after such an event. What is rather important to keep in perspective is (a) your investment horizon and (b) your risk taking capability to diversify into foreign markets.

 

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