Out of style: Don’t restrict your investment universe

It is important to source ideas from the broadest possible opportunity set without style factors or other constraints.

1 minute read

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Fund managers are expected to construct reasonably concentrated portfolios from thousands of stocks listed across the world. Confronted with this seemingly overwhelming choice, most global investors seek to reduce the complexity by resorting to some sort of screen. Typically, these take financial data and rank the stocks in their benchmark for their relative attractiveness based on a selection of measures, such as a low price-earnings multiple or a high return-on-capital figure. Often there is some explicit piece of academic research backing up the criteria, such as ‘value’ or ‘quality’ being ‘factors’ which outperform over the long run. The list is thus abbreviated to a more manageable length for further analysis.

Nobody goes there anymore. It’s too crowded
Yogi Berra, attrib.

This appears to be a sensible way to go about business, as it directs the research effort to the seemingly most promising areas. After all, don’t we all want to invest in businesses with high returns offered to us in the market at low price-earnings ratios?

There are several problems with this process.

The first is that it is easily replicable and hence cannot be a source of investment edge. Data sourced from third-party providers such as Bloomberg, Capital IQ, or Factset is not proprietary unless it has been manipulated at significant time and expense, which defeats the purpose of an effort-saving screen. 

The second is the issue of what to do when a particular factor stops working. Is it just temporarily out of favour, or has the factor become crowded, decayed permanently, and the screen needs to be adapted? It is impossible to tell. Diligent investors learn about mispricing from academic publications but they all read the same material, meaning they struggle to gain a relative advantage over each other.

The third is that using screens introduces constrains to the investment universe by restricting it unnecessarily. By definition, constraints can only serve to lower theoretical returns, and never enhance them ex ante.

Our approach is very different. Rather than beginning with the benchmark, we start from the entire universe of publicly-traded stocks. The sole screen we apply is one of liquidity as we are only interested in stocks that we can actually buy in material amounts. This defines our investment universe. From here, we keep an open mind and let good investment ideas come to us.

Key risks

For further information on the risks and risk profiles of our funds, please refer to the relevant KIID and Prospectus.

The value of an investment and any income from it can go down as well as up and can fluctuate in response to changes in currency exchange rates. Investors may not get back the original amount invested.

Emerging markets risk

The fund invests in emerging markets; these markets may be volatile and carry higher risk than developed markets.

Derivatives risk

The fund uses derivatives; these can be complex and highly volatile. Derivatives may not perform as expected, which means the fund may suffer significant losses.

Illiquid securities risk

Certain assets held in the fund could, by nature, be hard to value or to sell at a desired time or at a price considered to be fair (especially in large quantities), and as a result their prices could be very volatile.

Concentration risk

The fund invests in a small portfolio of securities. Losses from a single investment may be more detrimental to the overall fund performance than if a larger number of investments were made.

Global equities in focus

Global Equity Endurance Fund

A strategy that offers a fresh approach to global equity investing.

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Important information

Except where stated as otherwise, the source of all information is Aviva Investors Global Services Limited (“Aviva Investors”) as at November 2019. Unless stated otherwise any opinions expressed are those of Aviva Investors. They should not be viewed as indicating any guarantee of return from an investment managed by Aviva Investors nor as advice of any nature. 

Past performance is not a guide to future performance. 

The Prospectus and Key Investor Information Document (KIID), are available, together with the Report and Accounts of the SICAV, free of charge from Aviva Investors Luxembourg, 2 rue du Fort Bourbon 1st Floor.L-1249 Luxembourg, Grand Duchy of Luxembourg R.C.S. Luxembourg B25708, Aviva Investors, St Helen’s, 1 Undershaft, London EC3P 3DQ The Prospectus is available in English and German. Where a sub fund of the SICAV is registered for public distribution in a jurisdiction, a KIID in the official language of that jurisdiction will be available.

Issued by Aviva Investors Global Services Limited, the Investment Manager to the Fund registered in England No. 1151805.  Registered Office: St Helens, 1 Undershaft, London, EC3P 3DQ.  Authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority (Firm Reference No. 1191780).