Way back in the fall of 2008 we had two funds that were to going to launch as ETFs. One was an endowment style global tactical ETF (ticker symbol IVY) and the other was a global listed hedge fund ETN. We were partnering with Claymore (now Guggenheim) as the sub-advisor, as well as one of the world’s most famous financial brands that was moving into the ETF space.
Fast forward to the fall of ’08 and both filings got pulled due to the market gyrations. This of course was both good and bad for my firm. It was good since we would have recieved a pretty tiny index fee for designing the methodology, but it was bad since our strategies would have held up nicely since 2008. (The story is actually much longer and interesting but not really something I want to publish on the blog. So if you grab me over a beer sometime I’ll tell you the details.)
The global listed hedge fund ETN was going to invest in the listed hedge funds in Europe, and really the only structure that can do that without screwing the end investor due to PFIC taxes is the ETN. The listed hedge funds trade like closed-end funds do here with discounts and premiums to NAV and we had a strategy to bias the index to the funds trading at the biggest discounts. I haven’t seen any content on listed hedge funds in the US (other than a chapter on them in our book), but the ETN structure should have died alongside Lehman, although oddly it is still around today. I think investing in the foreign listed funds was really interesting five or so years ago, but with more and more active ETFs and alternative funds listing publicly, and the huge tax benefit to running active strategies in an ETF structure, they slowly became less and less interesting.
Anyways, it looks like Global X, which has been pretty creative and aggressive in launching funds, is going to do a global listed hedge fund ETF. I doubt they can get around the PFIC rules but will update this post if I chat with the folks there anytime soon and they provide more clarity. I’m pretty sure this is what killed the foreign listed private equity ETF a few years ago after I wrote about it a bunch on the blog.
As far as the three 13F based ETFs, they are interesting ideas with a major caveat – if they are done correctly. I am often doubtful many people know how to analyze 13Fs (for example many people think the top holdings are the best to follow, which they are not). I assume they are launching the first fund as a 13F tracker on the entire hedge fund space as a fund for the institutions to short (which I think is a great idea), as tracking the entire hedge space doesn’t make any sense otherwise. But as with anything I reserve my judgement until I get to see the methodology of the underlying strategies. (Note: AlphaClone also has an ETF in registration, and as a disclosure I have a small passive equity stake in the company.)
As a follow up, every single one of my ETF ideas from my post a few years ago is now in registration or launched. Perhaps it is time for a new list?
It has been over 5 years and 1,000 posts since I started writing, so I thought I would dig through the archives and touch on a few of my favorite posts, and maybe some of the dumber/better ideas over the years…but to start, below is the very first post to the blog. For the 2 of you that have been around since the first post Nov 1, 2006 here it is:
Three white papers by Bridgewater and PanAgora to introduce the blog and the topics of post modern portfolio theory and risk-parity…
Risk Parity is certainly in vogue this year – as is any strategy when it is having a great year. In honor of my first post, below is a video that touches on the topic of risk parity, endowment, and permanent portfolio allocations. I split this into two videos (Part I is 30 mins, Part II 10 mins). It then puts a spin on them with a dynamic trend overlay. At the end of the post is some added info for those looking for more background on risk parity.
I’ll have a few more videos in the coming months on the topics of equity income and currency investing. If you want to view a larger version you can go to the Screencast website here.
Dynamic Risk Parity Part I
Dynamic Risk Parity Part II
Below is a short history of risk parity from Mr. Wiki:
“The seeds for the risk parity approach were sown when economist and Nobel Prize winner, Harry Markowitz introduced the concept of the efficient frontier into modern portfolio theory in 1952. Then in 1958, Nobel laureate James “Bill” Tobin concluded that the efficient frontier model could be improved by adding risk-free investments and he advocated leveraging a diversified portfolio to improve its risk/return ratio. The theoretical analysis of combining leverage and minimizing risk amongst multiple assets in a portfolio was also examined by Jack Treynor in 1961, William Sharpe in 1964, John Lintner in 1965 and Jan Mossin in 1966. However, the concept was not put into practice due to the difficulties of implementing leverage in the portfolio of a large institution.
According to Joe Flaherty, senior vice president at MFS Investment Management, “the idea of risk parity goes back to the 1990s”. In 1996, Bridgewater Associates launched a risk parity fund called the All Weather asset allocation strategy which attempted to “achieve consistent performance” and equalize risk by correlating diversification (such as global inflation-linked bonds and global fixed income assets) with exposure to different economic drivers, such as inflation and economic growth. The initial impetus for the All Weather fund was to establish a family trust for the founder of Bridgewater Associates. Although Bridgewater Associates was the first to bring a risk parity product to market, they did not coin the term. Instead the term, risk parity was first used by Edward Qian, of PanAgora Asset Management, when he authored a white paper in 2005. The term was later co-opted by the asset management industry and evolved into a portfolio investment category. In time, other firms such as AQR Capital, Aquila Capital (2004), Northwater, Wellington, Invesco, First Quadrant, Putnam Investments, ATP (2006), PanAgora Asset Management (2006), AllianceBernstein (2010) and the Clifton Group (2011) began establishing risk parity funds.”
This story made news when Buffett and Protege made a 10-year bet over which investment would outperform: US stocks (S&P500, made by Buffett) or a select group of hedge fund of funds (not disclosed for some odd reason).
“All of which leaves tortoise and hare gasping alongside each other at the end of four years — and having absolutely nothing to cheer about. Protégé is still a bit ahead. But its funds of funds, on the average, are in the minus column for the period by 5.89%. Admiral shares are down 6.27%.”
The ironic part is that the bet required the funds be placed in escrow, and the Long Now Foundation bought zero coupon bonds which are now up over 40%.
Investors shouldn’t pay much for buy and hold portfolios. Honestly they shouldn’t pay anything on top of the 0.30% in fees one would pay for a portfolio of indexed ETFs or mutual funds (we detailed a few of these in our book The Ivy Portfolio). Now, if you have a killer advisor that is doing tax harvesting and/or adding alpha that is different but not the topic of this post. (Although if I was one of these software sites I would perfect the tax harvesting algorithm that would be huge differentiator.)
Anything more than 0.5% or so on top of fund fees is either paid a) out of ignorance, which is not always the investor’s fault or b) as a tax for being irresponsible. For the latter I mean a fee to keep you out of your own way of chasing returns and doing something stupid, much in the same way someone pays Weight Watchers or any other diet advice program when you know what you should be doing (eat less, exercise more). Some broad generalizations here but trying to get to the data below. That fee is worth a lot if you cannot keep out of the way of your own emotions, and the evidence is massive in favor of that being the case. We have a great research piece coming up on the topic here soon.
There is an enormous amount of VC money chasing financial startups, and there has long been a disconnect here for some reason. Anyways, below is a summary of the buy and hold advice world. I left out the really high fee advisors where the fee is variable by advisor since it is hard to make generalizations there other than that it is a dying model and you’re a predator if you’re charging 2% commissions and or 2%+ fees for doing nothing. I pulled most data from the SEC.
I made the dividing line 0.5% for a $100,000 account. Anything more is labeled in red (ie charge as much as you can get away with model), anything below in green (charge as little as possible model). I can’t understand why the custodians charge anything at all considering they likely just load the accounts with their own funds (double dipping on fees). I actually applaud some of the lower fee entrants and their fees (Betterment, Wealthfront), though I will say I think this is a very difficult model to differentiate yourself compared to simply buying a few ETFs and rebalancing that once a year.
If there is any errors or other sites I have missed let me know.
I’ve written dozens of posts here on the blog since ’06 on the topic of 13F research (older post here for example). An analyst and I used to cobble together the 13Fs and backtests by hand, a long an arduous process. However, over the years that process has allowed a number of insights to flow through that are hard to realize any other way than just getting your hands dirty. Findings such as what funds to track, what holdings to track, what strategies to track, etc have been discussed here and in our book The Ivy Portfolio – often insights that have not been presented elsewhere. So, below I wanted to tackle a topic that I hear almost every single time 13Fs come up – namely, does the 45 day delay matter in tracking these top hedge fund manager stock picks?
Below we do a quick test, and note it is not comprehensive. There are inherent biases no matter how you chop up the data (how many funds to include, long/short only or entire universe, include dead funds, regress the returns based on turnover and AUM? etc etc) but we look at 20 funds we have been following for years on the blog. We compare reblancing on the 13F filing date to rebalancing a portfolio at the quarter end (ie look ahead bias investors do not have). It shows how a portfolio constructed without the 45-day delay compares to a portfolio with publicly available information. Tests go back to 2000, total return data with no transaction costs.
Q: So, does the 45-day delay matter?
A: A little.
While there is wide variation across the funds (to be expected), the delay ranged anywhere from a 3%+ penalty for a few funds (Greenlight, Icahn), to a 1%+ CAGR benefit (Tiger Global, Libra). Overall the friction in the delay averages about 1.5% per annum (similar for both manager weighted returns as well as equal weighted returns). Another aside is that it doesn’t matter a whole lot when you rebalance after the disclosure (ie there isn’t much of a bounce from the filings becoming public plus or minus five days).
We are running this study with a larger dataset, and findings we may or may publish in a longer form white paper when we get around to it.
Next up on the blog are some videos on dynamic risk parity, equity income strategies, and currency strategies.
Funds included in the study:
APPALOOSA MANAGEMENT LP BAUPOST GROUP LLC BERKSHIRE HATHAWAY INC GREENLIGHT CAPITAL INC JAG HOLDINGS LLC MAVERICK CAPITAL LTD PRIVATE CAPITAL MANAGEMENT INC RELATIONAL INVESTORS LLC COBALT CAPITAL MANAGEMENT INC HIGHFIELDS CAPITAL MANAGEMENT LP CHESAPEAKE PARTNERS MANAGEMENT CO THIRD POINT MANAGEMENT CO LLC EMINENCE CAPITAL LLC ICAHN CARL C ET AL VIKING GLOBAL INVESTORS LP ATLANTIC INVESTMENT MANAGEMENT INC SECOND CURVE CAPITAL LLC AKRE CAPITAL MANAGEMENT LLC BRIDGER MANAGEMENT LLC GLENVIEW CAPITAL MANAGEMENT LLC LIBRA ADVISORS INC TIGER TECHNOLOGY MANAGEMENT