Measuring Performance of Exchange Traded Funds
32 Pages Posted: 7 Feb 2013 Last revised: 18 Feb 2013
Date Written: February 5, 2013
Fund selection is an important issue for investors. This topic has spawned abundant academic literature. Nonetheless, most of the time, these works concern only active management, whereas many investors, such as institutional investors, prefer to invest in index funds. The tools developed in the case of active management are also not suitable for evaluating the performance of these index funds. This explains why information ratios are usually used to compare the performance of passive funds. However, we show that this measure is not pertinent, especially when the tracking error volatility of the index fund is small. The objective of an exchange traded fund (ETF) is precisely to offer an investment vehicle that presents a very low tracking error compared to its benchmark. In this paper, we propose a performance measure based on the value-at-risk framework, which is perfectly adapted to passive management and ETFs. Depending on three parameters (performance difference, tracking error volatility and liquidity spread), this efficiency measure is easy to compute and may help investors in their fund selection process. We provide some examples, and show how liquidity is more of an issue for institutional investors than retail investors.
Keywords: Passive management, index fund, ETF, information ratio, tracking error, liquidity, spread, value-at-risk
JEL Classification: G11
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