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  • Writer's pictureDr. Aaron Low

2016 Wealth Management and Fund Portfolio Investment Summit Forum (Aaron's Keynote speech)

Aaron Low, Chairman of the CFA Association Council: Global asset allocation tends to rely more on investment portfolio construction

At the "2016 Wealth Management and Fund Portfolio Investment Summit Forum", Aaron Low, Chairman of the CFA Association Council, gave a keynote speech: Global asset allocation tends to rely more on investment portfolio construction. The following speech record is for readers.

Core point of view:

  • Goal-oriented investment trends

  • Asset allocation will rely more on portfolio construction

  • Need to study expected returns from a more favorable perspective

The speeches of the two leaders who gave the opening speech just now empathize with me, remind me of it, and make me firmer. Now for China, it is a good time to promote and plan the development of personal financial management business. It also reminds me that in 2002, when I was in Singapore, the personal financial management industry in Singapore had just emerged at that time, and this brought about the vigorous development of personal financial management in the entire Asian region. In the past 15 years, we have also learned a lot of experience.

1. The current global asset allocation problem

At present, we are facing a big challenge. In terms of global asset allocation and planning, how do we correctly allocate assets and select investment targets correctly? Especially when we are now in a global market environment with negative interest rates, slow growth and strong volatility, many things are completely different from the past ten or even twenty years. We believe that this is not just a problem faced by Western society. In fact, this is a global problem. This is why so many pensions or retirement plans are currently in crisis. We need to find out how to do it more effectively. The method of asset allocation and planning to prevent the next catastrophic risk from occurring.

2. The new growth point of the market appears in alternative assets

The emerging trend of this new asset allocation has brought new asset classes and new alternative investment products. This trend seems to have flourished in 2016, but in fact it has already appeared after the financial crisis. If we look at the trend of asset increase and transaction volume, we find that new growth points appear in real estate, private equity, and hedge funds.

If we look at these traditional asset allocation models, emerging markets have now shifted from traditional bond investment to real estate investment, while in relatively mature Western markets, this transformation has shifted from bonds to alternative assets including hedge funds. invest. We believe that these two trends will still be very obvious in the future.

Looking at these two charts, we can also see that from the current global asset allocation and investment situation, more funds have flowed into alternative assets, so what we have to find now is what alternative asset classes are worth investing in.

Let's take a look at the blue part of this histogram. The traditional core investment categories, such as stocks, bonds, etc., are now the fastest growing investment in alternative investment products. Now there is still a problem in terms of investment strategy, how to package these alternative assets into a traditional acceptable investment category.

3. Alternative assets are gradually disintegrating the traditional asset structure

In fact, there are many unrealistic illusions about traditional asset classes, which directly led to a crisis in our current global pension investment plans. At the same time, we have also seen a more popular investment method or portfolio construction model, including Smart Beta or Alternative Beta. There is also a well-known transition from a relative return benchmark to an outcome or goal orientation.

Nevertheless, for a long time, there has been a big gap or imbalance in this industry, which is an unrealistic expectation and illusion of the expected return on investment. The global low growth and high risks we are now facing have also greatly restricted the tools we can use for asset allocation.

4. The allocation of emerging assets gradually penetrates into the allocation of traditional assets

Let’s take a look at this chart. Let’s take a look at the left-hand side. The so-called traditional configuration model on the left-hand side is a configuration method used by most institutions. The bottom three sections, stocks, credit and cash, are basically The above is the most popular and mainstream configuration form in these emerging markets. The above is some of the current alternative investment configurations, including hedge funds, private equity and real estate. Judging from the chart of traditional allocation, for individual investors, this allocation is actually far from perfect.

We can see from the chart on the right that emerging configuration methods do not exist independently of traditional configuration methods. In fact, the current trend is slow, but irreversible and very clear. The emerging configuration methods gradually Infiltrate into the traditional configuration method. This also brings the current new approach to risk control and risk allocation. Because in the past, risks corresponded to a single investment allocation, but now we put it into different baskets.

Five, the investment stage of FOF

Now I start to talk about FOF. Before I talked about the so-called alternative investment or alternative allocation trend or its causes and consequences, now I come back to the question: What role does FOF play in this trend? Why is FOF an important investment channel? In fact, FOF provides a more effective and diversified method to deal with Alpha and Beta allocations in the investment decision-making process.

Looking at this chart, as an early investor, FOF can help him do some due diligence or portfolio allocation for industries that he does not know much about. For example, the subject of investment is private equity, which is not seen by investors. You must have relevant background knowledge. Invest in FOF and outsource this due diligence step to FOF.

After completing the first stage of learning, through several years of continuous learning to enter the second stage. At this time, the investor can make a more active investment. He may choose some large hedge funds or large-scale hedge funds. For private equity, he will also hire external investment consultants, and through such a running-in, he will eventually create a process and mechanism for his own internal investment.

At this time, you can transition to the third stage. Investors already have relevant professional knowledge, and he can choose higher-risk hedge funds or private equity.

In the fourth and final stage, when the investor’s scale and ability are strong enough, he can invest in FOF in the form of joint investment, so at this time the investor is no longer an individual investor in a certain FOF. Instead, invest as an FOF partner. The four stages listed in this chart are the four learning stages generally experienced by FOF investment institutions.

Generally, in the first stage, most of them are family businesses or high-net-worth individuals. Sovereign funds or pension funds are basically investors in the fourth stage.

Six, FOF investment process

This chart roughly refers to the basic process of FOF investment. Specifically, what are the parts of these processes and how they work. If you look at the bottom of the chart, you will understand that the elements that play a role in the process, such as using some Intelligent investment advice, automatic algorithms or optimized strategies. For FOF, there are more prominent or advantages in two areas. On the one hand, it can do things, on the other hand, what kind of technology can it use to do such things.

Let’s take a look at the three columns at the bottom. One is optimization, one is quantitative analysis, and the other is qualitative refinement. The three aspects are that FOF can have three advantages over traditional general public offering funds, because these three categories are at the end. In the process of building your investment portfolio, it can help your portfolio to be more professional, more complete, and better integrated into the entire investment process.

7. The evolution of business forms of investment institutions

Let's take a look at this table, here are different business forms. It has two dimensions. The horizontal axis refers to product integration, and the vertical axis refers to investment capabilities. So what we need to look at is in this dimension, whether the so-called alternative portfolios, hedge funds, private equity, or private equity, how can they be placed in the basket of your existing investment allocation accordingly, and compared with Your existing investment products can achieve a relatively consistent or a relatively high integration and consistency.

Specifically, the representative institutions of each sector, the upper right sector is basically the so-called diversified asset managers, for example, like Blackstone, they can provide their clients with a relatively comprehensive investment product options, including FOF, including passive products, they can basically provide his customers with investment categories on the market. The one on the upper left is a category of multiple alternative investment products. The companies listed are also very well-known companies. These companies are FOF investment institutions in the true sense. They provide investments that are completely focused on FOF products.

8. Smart Beta and Alternative Beta will play an important role in future asset allocation

From this table, I mainly talk about Smart Beta. Now Smart Beta ETF is very popular in Western markets. In this field, FOF can actually do a lot of things, especially in the link of Beta construction. From the chart, basically Smart Beta can win more than two percentage points in comparison with the traditional index.

Smart Beta and alternative Beta also played a very important role. FOF and hedge funds jointly created alternative Betas. Alternative Betas are very useful in asset allocation. For many investors, traditional Betas lack transparency and are prone to misleading. Therefore, in alternative investments, alternative Betas and Smart Betas appear Especially important.

In comparison, Smart Beta is actually a very popular investment category. Many FOFs have built an effective Smart Beta by themselves, with the goal of beating the traditional index by two to two and a half percentage points. In contrast, the so-called alternative Beta is not a particularly mature category. What everyone is doing now is to find a special factor and observe what role it plays in the construction of a new alternative Beta. Although it is not a very mature framework and category, But now a lot of alternative investments are already doing this, big hedge funds such as Blackstone Fund and KKP. Increase the investment in this category to find the so-called alternative Beta mature framework, now is the best time to invest.

I will probably explain what the alternative Beta is like. In fact, if we take a long-short stock hedge fund as an example, if we copy a long-short stock hedge fund, it will basically be 30% of the traditional Beta weighting plus short volatility, which can result in an alternative Beta for long and short stocks. Use this Beta to guide your asset allocation, but if you are implementing the final investment product, the point that needs to be paid attention to is that the buyer is not concerned with how to build the product, but is concerned with whether the product you provide can help him build a better product. A good portfolio of baskets, or can better integrate into his existing investment products. If this product of yours can help him achieve this and it is in line with his overall investment outlook, you should have a good opportunity to sell this product. It is important to know what these alternative asset allocation people think and what they want.

Finally, regarding the current alternative Beta situation, we can use it to build a more meaningful investment portfolio and allocation model to help people with wealth appreciation needs manage their risk exposure. Looking at it now, traditional investment targets like stocks and bonds have lost their appeal. Institutional investors have seen this, and some retail investors will also see this. As investment consultants, we have enough experience to help investors build a simple, easy-to-understand and easy-to-operate portfolio basket, so that they can better invest. The common alternative Beta categories listed in this PPT are basically some of the directions that we believe institutional investors will shift their investments or develop in the future in the next five to ten years. As an investment consultant, I think the future trend is also an aspect that we need to pay attention to.


As a summary, there are three points: First, the current investment trend is becoming more and more goal-oriented, which is very important for investment advisors, and we can play a very important role in it; asset allocation is more dependent on the construction of investment portfolios. The FOF in this link can play a better role to help everyone get better returns and better risk control; finally, we need to find a better way to study expected returns from a more rational and better perspective, which is also The key node for future investment advisors or asset management professionals to play an important role.

Author: Aaron Low

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