Most Read IRIS Articles of the Week: November 27-December 1

Most Read IRIS Articles of the Week: November 27-December 1

Here’s a look at the Top 11 Most Viewed Articles of the Week on, November 27-December 1, 2017

Click the headline to read the full article.  Enjoy!

1. The New PR Strategy for Reaching Clients: Be Your Own Media

It was not long ago when a public relations program designed at getting your name in front of potential clients was pretty simple: get your name in the local media on a regular basis, do some local charitable work and hang out at your local country club. Those were the days. — Dan Callahan

2. How to Break Away in the Post-Protocol World

The recent news of Morgan Stanley’s and UBS’ exit from the Broker Protocol caused quite a stir in both the wirehouse and RIA industries. — Matt Sonnen

3. Are Energy Stocks an Opportunity or a Value Trap?

The S&P 500 energy sector has lagged the strong performance of the broader index, falling by over 6% so far this year. Energy remains unloved for a number of reasons – value investors don’t think it is cheap enough, and growth investors don’t see the future upside – but we believe that there is good reason to be optimistic that better times may lie ahead. — David Lebovitz

4. 4 Steps to Becoming Distinctive and Referable

“I think distinction, particularly for financial advisors, is the point in your practice where prospects and customers are attracted to you because of what you stand for.” — Julie Littlechild

5. Tax Reform: What the Hell is Going On?

The current proposed tax reform changes may be the biggest changes to the Tax Code the country has seen since the mid 1980’s. To date, the government has been very light on details when it comes to proposed tax reform. Matthew Wheeler

6. 5 Lessons From a Superstar in Sales

You know those new salespeople who roll onto the scene, make big waves, and have the old-timers scratching their heads asking, “Where did they come from?” Stephen Higgins is one of those salespeople. — Marc Wayshak

7. 4 Strategies for Navigating Market Expansion

The U.S. economy is into its ninth year of growth—the third longest expansion in the post-war era. The result: stock prices are higher than ever, your portfolio has grown rapidly, and investors are basking in post-recession bliss. Smart advisors, however ... — Salvatore Bruno

8. Driverless Cars Are Poised to Deliver Benefits for Drivers, Investors—and Even the UK Economy

While Parliament may not typically come to mind when discussing innovation of any kind, British finance minister Philip Hammond caused many heads to turn last week when he announced that the new budget would include measures to encourage the development of driverless cars. — Richard Lightbound

9. The Skill Most Crucial to Your Success and Happiness as a Financial Advisor

What’s more vital to your success and happiness as a Financial Advisor, your technical skills or your people skills? Tough question? Not really. It’s your people skills. Hands down. No contest. — Bill Bachrach​​​​​​​

10. 5 Things to Know About UBS Leaving the Protocol

This news comes with little surprise and we fully expect that Merrill Lynch will soon follow suit. Certainly announcements like this cause an abundance of emotions from fear and anxiety to anger and everywhere in between for advisors who were protected by the seminal document. — Mindy Diamond​​​​​​​

11. Robo Advising and The Death of the AUM Business Model for Independent Financial Advisors

Recently, one of my clients shared with me that their Broker/Dealer had created their own 'robo advisor' platform to help them compete with the likes of Schwab, Scotttrade et al. My response was grim: "They just committed professional suicide." You are now being told to sell the one product that will completely destroy your value to your customers. — Mike Garrison​​​​​​​

Douglas Heikkinen
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IRIS Co-Founder and Producer of Perspective—a personal look at the industry, and notables who share what they’ve learned, regretted, won, lost and what continues ... Click for full bio

Multi-Factor or Not Multi-Factor? That Is the Question

Multi-Factor or Not Multi-Factor? That Is the Question

Written by: Chris Shuba, Helios Quantitative Research, LLC

Let’s pretend you are a US investor that wants to deploy some of your money overseas.  You think international developed market stocks are attractive relative to US stocks, and you also think the US dollar will decline over the period you intend to hold your investment.  Your investment decision is logical to you. But you have choices:  You could a) simply invest in a traditional index like the MSCI EAFE, b) invest in a fund that systematically emphasizes a single factor (like a value fund) that only buys specific stocks related to that factor, or c) invest in a developed fund that blends several factors together, like the JPMorgan Diversified Return International Equity ETF (JPIN).  What is the best choice? 

Investing in a traditional international market capitalization index like the MSCI EAFE is not a bad choice. It has delivered nice returns for a US investor, especially uncorrelated outperformance in the 1970s and 1980s, and helped to diversify a US-only portfolio.

Your second choice is to invest in one particular factor because it makes sense to you.  Sticking with the example of a value strategy, you might believe a fund or index that chooses the cheapest or most attractively valued stocks based on metrics like Price to Earnings (PE) is best.  

You could go find a discretionary portfolio manager who only buys stocks he deems to be cheap.  Typically the concept of “cheap” is based on some absolute metric that the manager has in mind, such as never buying a stock with a PE greater than 15.  If there are not enough stocks that are attractive, he will hold his money in cash until he finds the prudent bargains he seeks.  This prudence also obviously risks possible underperformance from being absent from the market.

The alternative is to buy a value index or fund that systematically only buys the cheapest stocks in a particular investment universe.  So if there are 1000 investable stocks available, the index ONLY buys the cheapest decile of 100 stocks and is always fully invested in the 100 securities that are relatively cheapest.  This is an investment approach that a discretionary manger may disdain.  The discretionary value manager may look at those same 100 stocks and think they are pricey.  But nevertheless, academic research has shown that always being fully invested in the relatively cheapest percentiles of stocks in the US has produced superior returns over many decades. 

Such a portfolio is called a “factor” portfolio.  Why the name?   In the early 1960s, academics introduced the concept of beta and demonstrated that individual US stocks had sensitivities to, and were driven by, movements in the broad market.  In the early 1990s, academic research began to show that other “factors” such as value and size also drove US stock returns.  Since then, several factors have been identified as driving individual stock outperformance: value, size, volatility, momentum and quality.  Stocks that are cheaper, smaller, less volatile, have more positive annual returns and higher profitability have historically outperformed their peers.  It turns out these factors also work internationally.

Related: Who Gets Sick When the U.S. Sneezes?

Of all the factors, value is the factor that has been the best known the longest (even before it was academically identified as a “factor”), thanks to the books of Warren Buffet’s teacher Ben Graham.   And if you look abroad at an array of developed global markets and create a value index and compare it to its simple market capitalization weighted brother, the historic outperformance of value has been stunning.  Until recently.  

While there was some variability by country, on average from the mid-1970s up until 2005 a value factor portfolio in a developed market outperformed its market cap weighted index by about 2% a year.  That’s a lot. By contrast, since 2005, the average developed country value portfolio has underperformed a market cap indexes by about -40 basis points.  Which is the danger of investing in one factor.  It may not always work at every point in time.

So if investing in one factor like value runs the risk of underperforming, how about a multi-factor international developed equity portfolio?

Below is a breakdown of individual factor portfolios’ performance in international developed equity markets since 2005, an equal weighted factor portfolio as well the performance of the MSCI EAFE as our performance reference.  Note that, for the last 13 years, value has been the poorest factor by far, while the others have handily beaten the EAFE.  An equal weighted portfolio of all 5 factors, while not as optimal as some of the individual factor results, beats the EAFE by 1.6% and has an information ratio, or risk adjusted returns that are superior by 37%.  The equal weighted factor portfolio also has the advantage of not having to predict which factor will work when, so even when a factor like value does not beat the market, the other factors can pick up the slack.

SOURCE: MSCI, Data as of January 31, 2018. Past performance is no guarantee of future results. Shown for illustrative purposes only.

The equal weighted factor portfolio has one other advantage over the market cap weighted alternative. Note in the chart below how well the portfolio outperformed in the 2008 crisis, so it tends to do relatively well in highly volatile sell offs.

SOURCE: MSCI, Data as of January 31, 2018. Past performance is no guarantee of future results. Shown for illustrative purposes only.

While it’s not inconceivable that one or two of these factors could erode, or underperform for a stretch, the fact that you have exposure to multiple factors in a portfolio that seems to do especially well in crises suggest the multi-factor blended portfolio remains the most attractive way to invest in developed markets.

So, when asked the question: Multi-factor or not multi-factor?  The data speaks for itself.

Learn more about alternative beta and our ETF capabilities here.

DEFINITIONS: Price to earnings (P/E) ratio:  The price-earnings ratio (P/E ratio) is the ratio for valuing a company that measures its current share price relative to its per-share earnings.

DISCLOSURES: MSCI EAFE Investable Market Index (IMI): The MSCI EAFE Investable Market Index (IMI), is an equity index which captures large, mid and small cap representation across Developed Markets countries* around the world, excluding the US and Canada. The index is based on the MSCI Global Investable Market Indexes (GIMI) Methodology—a comprehensive and consistent approach to index construction that allows for meaningful global views and cross regional comparisons across all market capitalization size, sector and style segments and combinations. This methodology aims to provide exhaustive coverage of the relevant investment opportunity set with a strong emphasis on index liquidity, investability and replicability. The index is reviewed quarterly—in February, May, August and November—with the objective of reflecting change in the underlying equity markets in a timely manner, while limiting undue index turnover. During the May and November semi-annual index reviews, the index is rebalanced and the large, mid and small capitalization cutoff points are recalculated.

Investors should carefully consider the investment objectives and risks as well as charges and expenses of the ETF before investing. The summary and full  prospectuses contain this and other information about the ETF. Read the prospectus carefully before investing. Call 1-844-4JPM-ETF or visit to obtain a prospectus.
J.P. Morgan Asset Management
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