Factor investing

The Risk in Equity Risk Factors

9.July 2020

The bear markets were and surely would be present in the equities in the future. While many fear them, experienced investors accept that the growth of the equity market cannot be constant and that inherent equity risk often manifests as a painful market drawdown. When someone designs a strategy, it is a general practice to check its performance during such downturns. Therefore, we can recommend an interesting novel research paper by Paul Geertsema and Helen Lu. The selected paper analyzes the risk of the most common equity factors and plots their over- or under-performance during multiple crisis periods since the Vietnam war until the COVID-19.

Authors: Paul Geertsema, Helen Lu

Title: The Risk in Risk Factors

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Transaction Costs Optimization for Currency Factor Strategies

18.June 2020

A lot of backtests of systematic trading strategies omit transaction costs (in the form of spreads and fees). Simulation is then simpler, but resultant model portfolio and its performance can be misleading. In the case of currency factor investing, backtest without the tcosts simulation can pick currencies with wider spreads and higher volatilities. And in real trading, with real-world transaction costs, a strategy can, therefore, perform significantly worse than expected. A research paper written by Melvin, Pan, and Wikstrom offers an elegant optimization methodology to incorporate transaction costs into the backtesting process which allows strategies to retain their alpha …

Authors: Michael Melvin, Wenqiang Pan, Petra Wikstrom

Title: Retaining Alpha: The Effect of Trade Size and Rebalancing Frequency on FX Strategy Returns

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Trend Breaks in Trend-Following Strategies

9.June 2020

Trend-following strategies are very effective when markets are cleanly trending, but they suffer when trends end too soon. How markets behaved during the last few years, were they prone to last-longing trends? Are we able to immunize trend-following to endure the negative impact of trend breaks better? A research paper written by Garg, Goulding, Harvey, and Mazzoleni finds a negative relationship between the number of turning points (a month in which slow 12-month and faster 2-month momentum signals differ in their indications to buy or sell) and risk-adjusted performance of a 12-month trend-following strategy. The average number of turning points experienced across assets has increased in recent years. But we can implement a “dynamic” trend-following strategy that adjusts the weight it assigns to slow and fast time-series momentum signals after observing market breaks to recover much of the losses experienced by static-window trend following…

Authors: Garg, Goulding, Harvey, Mazzoleni

Title: Breaking Bad Trends

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Long-Short vs Long-Only Implementation of Equity Factors

26.May 2020

How should be equity factor strategies implemented? In a long-only (smart beta) way? As a long-short strategy, as most of the hedge funds usually do? Or in a partially-hedged fashion by going long equity factor and shorting market to offset some of the market risks? There is no one universal answer as it depends on the investment mandate and constraints of each fund manager contemplating to implement factor investing strategies. But recent academic paper written by Benaych-Georges, Bouchaud and Ciliberti suggests that it’s a good idea to go in the direction of long-short implementation (if it’s possible). Managing short book can be challenging; however, the added benefit of lower correlation among strategies gives resultant factor portfolio a significant boost in the return-to-risk ratio (even after accounting for realistic implementation and shorting costs).

Authors: Benaych-Georges, Bouchaud, Ciliberti

Title: Equity Factors: To Short Or Not To Short, That is the Question

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YTD Performance of Equity Factors – Update After Two Months

15.May 2020

Nearly two months ago, in a time of the highest turmoil during the current pandemic crisis, we performed a quick assessment of the status of performance of equity factor strategies. The world has still not been able to ward-off health-care crisis completely, but a lot of countries have made significant progress (on the other hand, there are still a lot of countries in a worse state than a few months ago). Equity indexes have rebounded from the March lows and have removed some of the losses. Therefore, we have received multiple inquiries about the current situation of equity factor strategies.

So it may be a good time to revisit once again how they are performing.

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Backtesting ESG Factor Investing Strategies

7.May 2020

Socially Responsible Investing (also called ESG Factor Investing) grows in popularity. More and more investors enter the stock market not just to invest their savings, but they are also want to support companies that bring positive social or environmental change. ESG factor investing can bring satisfaction to those investors. But does it also brings a real outperformance in a financial sense? Is there some ESG factor alpha? How big is it? These are some of the questions we have decided to investigate – we obtained data, identified ESG factor strategies and tested them. Feel free to explore them with us…

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