If Everyone Indexes, What Happens?

As passive investing continues to gain popularity, concerns have materialized about some unintended consequences, according to a recent article inMorningstar. The article outlines an interview with Morningstar’s director of passive strategies, Alex Bryan, who shares his insights. Here are some highlights: ·      One of the concerns, Bryan explains, is that as more people index, fewer become “dedicated to doing fundamental analysis on individual securities” and more end up buying and selling “the entire market.”  In that… Read More

Morningstar: The Importance of Investing Abroad

In a recent interview, Morningstar’s Alex Bryan, director of passive strategies research in North America, offered insights regarding how investors might approach foreign exposure in their portfolios. Here are some highlights: Even though international stocks tend to be a bit more volatile than U.S. stocks because they are priced in foreign currency, Bryan says, diversifying is important because U.S. stocks go through periods of underperformance relative to international shares. Bryan says that international stocks can… Read More

Investing Insights Regarding Smart Beta Strategies

At this month’s 2017 Morningstar ETF Conference, Alex Bryan interviewed Chris Brightman, the chief investment officer of Research Affiliates, to discuss concerns regarding smart beta products. Here are some highlights: Bryan points out that while data provided by Research Affiliates shows strong back-tested performance for some smart-beta strategies, the “live” record of many of these products has been weak. Brightman clarified that his findings are not restricted to smart-beta strategies. “If we look across the… Read More

Value Indexing: Don’t Chase Performance

In a recent interview conducted by Alex Bryan of Morningstar, Research Affiliates’ John West, head of client strategies, discussed a different approach to value investing in which holdings are weighted based on fundamental metrics such as book value and sales rather than market capitalization. West shared insights concerning the motivation behind the process and how it comprises a value approach: The motivation, West says, came from the tech bubble during which cap weighting of overpriced… Read More

Interest Rate Sensitivity and Low-Vol Investing

Interest rates have a significant impact on security prices, according to an article by Morningstar’s Alex Bryan, CFA, the firm’s Director of Passive Strategies Research, North America. Bryan writes that, unlike bonds, which have a finite life and fixed cash flow, the impact of rates is more difficult to anticipate for equities. He explains his theory that firms that are “more sensitive to the business cycle tend to experience greater cash flow growth during economic… Read More

Valuations Matter in Factor Strategies

It’s a familiar investment conundrum: when a strategy outperforms and more investors pile in, it can get more expensive and therefore be less likely to outperform going forward. This is discussed as it relates specifically to factor investing in a recent Morningstar article. Alex Bryan, CFA, director of passive strategies research (North America) for Morningstar, poses the question: “What if the apparent performance edge is not sustainable and investors are just relapsing into counterproductive performance-chasing?”… Read More

Growth and Performance in Emerging Markets

Although it seems counterintuitive, evidence suggests that there is a negative correlation between economic growth (GDP) in emerging markets and stock market performance, says a recent Morningstar article. Alex Bryan, Morningstar’s director of passive strategies research (North America) explains that while emerging markets will “likely continue to grow faster than developed markets for the foreseeable future,” these gains might not extend to investors. Using real GDP data from the World Bank and the gross return… Read More

Adding Momentum to Your Portfolio

The tendency of recent market performance to persist, an effect known as momentum, has been pervasive even though it is a “blatant violation” of what you would expect in an efficient market. This according to Alex Bryan, director of passive strategies research for Morningstar, in a recent interview. Bryan explains that extensive research has uncovered three theories behind this: Behavioral biases. Investors may underreact to new information because they “anchor” their investment strategies to old… Read More