Top

Dimensional Perspectives

investment fads

Investment fads are nothing new. When selecting strategies for their portfolios, investors are often tempted to seek out the latest and greatest investment opportunities. Over the years, these approaches have sought to capitalise on developments such as the perceived relative strength of particular geographic regions, technological changes in the economy, or the popularity of different natural resources. But long-term investors should be aware that letting short-term trends influence their investment approach may be counterproductive. As Nobel laureate Eugene Fama said, “There’s one robust new idea in finance that has investment implications maybe every 10 or 15 years, but there’s a marketing idea every week.”

What's Hot Becomes What's Not

Looking back at some investment fads over recent decades can illustrate how often trendy investment themes come and go. In the early 1990s, attention turned to the rising “Asian Tigers” of Hong Kong, Singapore, South Korea, and Taiwan. A decade later, much was written about the emergence of the “BRIC” countries of Brazil, Russia, India, and China and their new place in global markets. Similarly, funds targeting hot industries or trends have come into and fallen out of vogue. In the 1950s, the “Nifty Fifty” were all the rage. In the 1960s, “go-go” stocks and funds piqued investor interest. Later in the 20th century, growing belief in the emergence of a “new economy” led to the creation of funds poised to make the most of the rising importance of information technology and telecommunication services. During the 2000s, 130/30 funds, which used leverage to sell short certain stocks while going long others, became increasingly popular. In the wake of the 2008 financial crisis, “Black Swan” funds, “tail-risk-hedging” strategies, and “liquid alternatives” abounded. As investors reached for yield in a low interest-rate environment in the following years, other funds sprang up that claimed to offer increased income generation, and new strategies like unconstrained bond funds proliferated. More recently, strategies focused on peer-to-peer lending, cryptocurrencies, and even cannabis cultivation and private space exploration have become more fashionable. In this environment, so-called “FAANG” stocks and concentrated exchange-traded funds with catchy ticker symbols have also garnered attention among investors.

The Fund Graveyard

Unsurprisingly, however, numerous funds across the investment landscape were launched over the years only to subsequently close and fade from investor memory. While economic, demographic, technological, and environmental trends shape the world we live in, public markets aggregate a vast amount of dispersed information and drive it into security prices. Any individual trying to outguess the market by constantly trading in and out of what’s hot is competing against the extraordinary collective wisdom of millions of buyers and sellers around the world.

With the benefit of hindsight, it is easy to point out the fortune one could have amassed by making the right call on a specific industry, region, or individual security over a specific period. While these anecdotes can be entertaining, there is a wealth of compelling evidence that highlights the futility of attempting to identify mispricing in advance and profit from it. 

It is important to remember that many investing fads, and indeed, most mutual funds, do not stand the test of time. A large proportion of funds fail to survive over the longer term. Of the 1,622 fixed income mutual funds available to investors in the world’s biggest market, the US, at the beginning of 2004, only 55% still existed at the end of 2018. Similarly, among equity funds, only 51% of the 2,786 funds available at the beginning of 2004 endured.1

What Am I Really Getting?

When confronted with choices about whether to add additional types of assets or strategies to a portfolio, it may be helpful to ask the following questions: 

1. What is this strategy claiming to provide that is not already in my portfolio?

2. If it is not in my portfolio, can I reasonably expect that including it or focusing on it will increase expected returns, reduce expected volatility, or help me achieve my investment goal?

3. Am I comfortable with the range of potential outcomes? 

If investors are left with doubts after asking any of these questions, it may be wise to use caution before proceeding. Within equities, for example, a market portfolio offers the benefit of exposure to thousands of companies doing business around the world and broad diversification across industries, sectors, and countries. While there can be good reasons to deviate from a market portfolio, investors should understand the potential benefits and risks of doing so. 

In addition, there is no shortage of things investors can do to help contribute to a better investment experience. Working closely with a financial adviser can help individual investors create a plan that fits their needs and risk tolerance. Pursuing a globally diversified approach; managing expenses, turnover, and taxes; and staying disciplined through market volatility can help improve investors’ chances of achieving their long-term financial goals. 

Conclusion

Fashionable investment approaches will come and go, but investors should remember that a long-term, disciplined investment approach based on robust research and implementation may be the most reliable path to success in the global capital markets.

Previous Post
Next Post

1. US-domiciled mutual fund data is from Morningstar. For methodology details, see Dimensional Fund Advisors Mutual Fund Landscape brochure.




WHERE ISSUED BY DIMENSIONAL IRELAND LIMITED

Issued by Dimensional Ireland Limited (DIL), with registered office 10 Earlsfort Terrace, Dublin 2, D02 T380, Ireland. DIL is regulated by the Central Bank of Ireland (Registration No. C185067). 


WHERE ISSUED BY DIMENSIONAL FUND ADVISORS LTD. 

Issued by Dimensional Fund Advisors Ltd. (DFAL), 20 Triton Street, Regent’s Place, London, NW1 3BF. Company Number 02569601. DFAL is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) - Firm Reference No. 150100. 


DIL and DFAL as applicable, (each an “Issuing Entity”, as the context requires) do not give financial advice. You are responsible for deciding whether an investment is suitable for your personal circumstances, and we recommend that a financial adviser helps you with that decision. Please read the ‘Important Information’.


The Issuing Entity issues information and materials in English and may also issue information and materials in certain other languages. The recipient’s continued acceptance of information and materials from the Issuing Entity will constitute the recipient’s consent to be provided with such information and materials, where relevant, in more than one language.


This material is provided for information purposes use only. It does not constitute an invitation or offer to subscribe for or purchase any of the products or services mentioned. It is the responsibility of any persons wishing to make a purchase to inform themselves of and observe all applicable laws and regulations. Any entity responsible for forwarding this material to other parties takes responsibility for ensuring compliance with all financial promotion laws, rules and regulations. It is not intended to provide a sufficient basis on which to make an investment decision. Information and opinions presented in this material have been obtained or derived from sources believed by the Issuing Entity to be reliable, but the Issuing Entity makes no representation as to their accuracy or completeness. The Issuing Entity has reasonable grounds to believe that all factual information herein is true as at the date of this document. The Issuing Entity accepts no liability for loss arising from the use of this material.


“Dimensional” refers to the Dimensional separate but affiliated entities generally, rather than to one particular entity. These entities are Dimensional Fund Advisors LP, Dimensional Fund Advisors Ltd., DFA Australia Limited, Dimensional Fund Advisors Canada ULC, Dimensional Fund Advisors Pte. Ltd., Dimensional Ireland Limited, Dimensional Japan Ltd., and Dimensional Hong Kong Limited. Dimensional Hong Kong Limited is licensed by the Securities and Futures Commission to conduct Type 1 (dealing in securities) regulated activities only and does not provide asset management services.

Eugene Fama is a member of the Board of Directors of the general partner of, and provides consulting services to, an affiliate of the Issuing Entity.

 

RISKS
Investments involve risks. The investment return and principal value of an investment may fluctuate so that an investor’s shares, when redeemed, may be worth more or less than their original value. Past performance is not a guarantee of future results. There is no guarantee strategies will be successful.