Smart Beta Made Smart
46 Pages Posted: 24 Sep 2020 Last revised: 28 Sep 2020
Date Written: May 5, 2020
We construct synthetic, tradable risk factors (e.g., tradable HML and MOM) and individual factor legs (e.g., growth and value) using optimal combinations of large and liquid mutual funds and ETFs based on their holdings. We show that a large fraction of existing smart beta funds are simply market funds, and that both retail and institutional investors are not able to harvest the unconditional factor risk premia, with the exception of the value premium. We conclude that the investable set of strategies available to investors may be smaller than previously thought. We also show that smart beta funds' names might not be indicative of the actual fund strategy, although daily flows to smart beta strategies suggest that naive investors tend to get exposure to smart beta strategies based on funds' names. Our analysis has several important implications, including how we evaluate portfolio managers and cross-sectional returns' anomalies.
Keywords: Smart beta, factor investing, tradable risk premia, daily flows to smart beta strategies
JEL Classification: G11, G12
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation