Investing in Systematic Factor Premiums
Revised version: European Financial Management Forthcoming
66 Pages Posted: 30 Oct 2013 Last revised: 1 Sep 2015
Date Written: October 29, 2013
Investments in certain segments of the market realize better returns over longer periods than those in other segments. Leading academic studies from the eighties onwards demonstrate, for instance, that value, momentum, smallcap and low-volatility stocks systematically generate higher risk-adjusted returns.
Investments in these segments or factors are also known as anomalies, as these factors cannot be explained by classic investment theories. However, allocation by institutional investors to strategies that explicitly capitalize on the benefits of these factors is now supported by academic research.
This report takes as its starting point the study by researchers Ang, Goetzmann and Schaefer (2009) for the Norwegian Government Pension Fund, the first such study to explicitly recommend factor investing. This pension fund is one of the largest active investors in the world. When in 2008 ten years' worth of cumulative outperformance was wiped out, the fund launched an investigation to evaluate the effects of active management. The researchers concluded that the exposure to factor premiums clearly accounted for the fund's results. Their conclusion is clear: factor investing must be part of the strategic asset allocation of institutional investors. However, this begs further questions: •what is the added value of factor investing? •what are these underlying factors? •how can a pension fund best put together a portfolio?
This report provides answers to these questions. As a follow-up to the study by Ang, Goetzmann and Schaefer, it is very topical, as many institutional investors are investigating the opportunities provided by factor investing.
In addition to covering the theoretical aspects of factor investing, this study facilitates discussion between directors and regulators on optimum investment horizons. Institutional investors are particularly worried that recent financial developments will force them to operate increasingly over a shorter horizon. However, the strength of an institutional investor lies precisely in earning risk premiums over the long term, without losing sight of short-term risk premiums.
At the moment, we are completing a second study that focuses specifically on the practical side of factor investing. It delves deeper into the discussion points that arise when using factor investing.
Finally, a point about our relationship with Robeco. Robeco values factor investing highly and is also doing extensive research on this matter, but wanted an external, independently academic view to support its investigations. Hence we were given the task of writing this report.
Keywords: Factor Investing, European Data, Optimization, Timing
JEL Classification: G11, G12, G15, G23
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation