Understanding the drivers of returns to build diversified portfolios
When it comes to choosing a fund, UK investors have a choice of 3,000 at their fingertips. Building a peer group to decide which fund to choose is helped by the Investment Association (IA), which has grouped these strategies into 30 broad sectors. These categories are a good starting point. But to really understand what drives returns for each fund—and make sure that investors are building well-diversified portfolios—we need to dig a bit deeper.
Take the IA UK All Companies sector. With 274 funds to choose from, many investors and clients use quantitative screens to narrow down the list before doing a deeper dive into the sector. But this approach could restrict the choice of funds to a shorter list of strategies that all derive their returns from the same part of the market—reducing the diversification benefits in the process.
In December 2015, for example, the top decile of funds (27 funds) had an average of 42% in mid-cap and 45% in small-cap. This isn’t surprising given the outperformance in this part of the market up until December 2015. But year to date, these funds are 77th percentile on average as mid- and small-cap stocks sold off, emphasising the importance of combining diversified UK equity funds.
That’s why analysing holdings to understand exactly where fund returns are coming from is critical to ensuring that investors have diversified portfolios that can help generate stronger risk-adjusted returns over the long term.
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