Perspectives Blog

Does a perfect policy portfolio exist?

Jeffrey Knight, CFA, Global Head of Investment Solutions and Asset Allocation | May 5, 2014

Risk Parity represents a significant advance in asset allocation, but we don’t believe that there is a single perfect policy portfolio. While Risk Parity works well in neutral markets, we don’t think it is the best policy under bearish, bullish or highly bullish market conditions. We believe that a policy function that rotates among four distinct policy portfolios is closer to perfect than any single policy portfolio. The idea of a policy port…

The end of “risk-on/risk-off”

Anwiti Bahuguna, Ph.D., Senior Portfolio Manager | February 3, 2014

…but also rose to over 80% during this same period, reducing the benefits of cross-regional diversification. Similarly, correlation between equities and high yielding bonds rose from about 50% to over 80%. When investors took risk, most assets rallied with the exception of sovereign bonds. Conversely, when risk sold off, only sovereign bonds had positive returns. This risk-on/risk-off regime posed a problem for multi-asset portfolios as many of t…

Credit alternatives in government-backed debt

Columbia Management, Investment Team | June 23, 2014

One way investors may boost yields without taking on undue credit risk is through U.S. government agency debt. While many investors associate U.S. agency debt with very low yields, other types of agency debt can offer significant spreads to Treasuries with a modest decline in liquidity. We have been increasing our allocation to the agency market in core portfolios as a way to reduce credit risk while maintaining competitive yields. By Carl W….

Constraints of convention – Does a portfolio design have to be static?

Jeffrey Knight, CFA, Global Head of Investment Solutions and Asset Allocation | July 14, 2014

A 60/40 portfolio may appear to be balanced, but when viewed through a risk lens it is clear that the equity allocation comprises a disproportionate amount of the risk. As a static strategy, the very thing that has helped risk parity succeed over time may prove to be its biggest liability going forward, and that is all those extra bonds. Instead of always being accountable to the same neutral portfolio, why not shift accountability to a startin…

In the land of 7 footers, 6’8″ plays guard

Fred Copper, Senior Portfolio Manager | May 5, 2014

The expected real return on most “safe haven” assets is currently negative. Risk seeking behavior could result in a bubble encompassing all risky assets. While current indicators support a pro risk stance, we are prepared to change our positioning as market conditions dictate. There is a great deal of discussion currently about the likely emergence of asset bubbles in capital markets driven by hyper-stimulative central bank policy. However, we…

Holding multiple investments does not ensure better diversification

Columbia Management, Investment Team | April 23, 2014

The degree of risk reduction benefit in diversification depends directly upon the correlation of the portfolio’s assets. Adding just one zero-correlated asset to a portfolio reduces risk 29.5%, while adding a thousand 66%-correlated assets reduces risk by only 19%. Well-designed absolute return products can be meaningful additions to traditional allocations, substantially enhancing diversification. By Todd White, Head of Alternative Investment…

Take an active approach to selecting your active manager

Robert McConnaughey, Director of Global Research | April 7, 2014

Be sure the manager takes enough risk Be sure the manager takes intentional, well-informed risk Be sure the manager has delivered returns for that risk taken across multiple backdrops For some time, we have written about the challenges active equity managers face from a market with unusually high cross-correlations. We have also stated our belief that the correlation pendulum would swing back to more normal levels (at least) as the aftershocks…