AgPa #59: Why and When Institutional Investors Fire Asset Managers

Forbearance in Institutional Investment Management: Evidence from Survey Data (2023)
Amit Goyal, Ramon Tol, Sunil Wahal
Financial Analysts Journal 79(2), 7-20, URL

As we all know, extracting excess returns from (equity) markets is not so easy. Identifying and monitoring managers who can reliably do that is therefore at least as difficult, if not harder. In particular, deciding whether to continue working with a temporary underperforming manager is often difficult. This week‘s paper examines how institutional reports approach this problem in practice…

  • Institutional investors are more patient than thought
  • Tolerance for underperformance is surprisingly long
  • Sophistication and risk-appetite of investors do matter

Read the Full Post

AgPa #50: Should We Trust Asset Management Research?

The Pitfalls of Asset Management Research (2022)
Campbell R. Harvey
Journal of Systematic Investing Volume II Issue 1, URL/SSRN

Can we trust the results of academic and practitioner research in asset management? For a blog focusing on summaries of research papers, this is of course a very important question. But even without such an obvious bias, this is a very interesting issue for all who use some form of research for their investment decisions. The author of this week’s AGNOSTIC Paper presents several concerning facts and strongly recommends to not take all research insights at face value…

  • Some concerning facts about finance research
  • Research incentives and multiple testing
  • Practitioner research in asset management

Read the Full Post

AgPa #49: Machine Learning in Quant Asset Management

How Can Machine Learning Advance Quantitative Asset Management? (2023)
David Blitz, Tobias Hoogteijling, Harald Lohre, Philip Messow
The Journal of Portfolio Management Quantitative Tools 2023, URL/SSRN

This week’s AGNOSTIC Paper is a broad overview about machine learning in investment management. The authors outline the benefits and pitfalls of machine learning compared to “traditional” econometrics and present several use cases in the world of (quantitative) asset management. They also provide ideas for research governance to keep those powerful methods under control.

  • Benefits and pitfalls of machine learning in finance
  • Use cases of machine learning in asset management
  • Keeping it under control: research governance and protocol

Read the Full Post

AgPa #44: Betting against Quant – Thematic Indices

Betting against Quant: Examining the Factor Exposures of Thematic Indexes (2021)
David Blitz
The Journal of Beta Investment Strategies Winter 2021, URL/SSRN

This week’s AGNOSTIC Paper examines a recent trend in the asset management industry: thematic indices. The sales pitch is simple. With a thematic index you can easily invest in the “next big things”. Artificial intelligence, aging population, e-sports and gaming, healthcare breakthroughs – just name your buzzword and you will find an investment product for it. This week’s paper is among the first that examine such thematic investments through the lens of the major factor premiums.

  • Thematic indices are more volatile and have higher betas than the overall market
  • Thematic indices tend to hold expensive, low-quality stocks with neutral momentum
  • There are still reasons why thematic indices exist

Read the Full Post

AgPa #25: The Economics of High-Frequency-Trading

The Economics of High-Frequency Trading: Taking Stock (2016)
Albert J. Menkveld
Annual Review of Financial Economics, Vol. 8, 1-24, URL/SSRN

This week’s AGNOSTIC Paper examines once again a somewhat controversial topic: high frequency trading. The (public) image of HFTs is quite mixed with a clear tendency towards negative. However, an open-minded and scientific analysis suggests that we are probably better off with HFTs than without them…

  • Trading costs strongly decreased between 2001 and 2011
  • HFTs are fast, well-informed, and often market makers
  • Order-preying and arm’s races – it’s not all good
  • The benefits seem to outweigh the costs

Read the Full Post

AgPa #1: Index Whales

Index Providers: Whales Behind the Scenes of ETFs (2021)
Yu An, Matteo Benetton, Yang Song
Invited for submission to the Review of Financial Studies, URL

The first research paper examines a specific area of the asset management industry: Exchange Traded Funds (ETFs) and index providers, the companies selling market indices like the S&P 500.

In a remarkable combination of empirical analysis and theoretical modeling, the authors present several interesting results:

  • Index providers are an oligopoly
  • ETF investors care about the index
  • Index providers capture 1/3 of ETF fees
  • Index providers are extremely profitable

Read the Full Post