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Investment management (or financial management) is the professional asset management of various securities (shares, bonds, and other securities) and other assets (e.g., real estate) in order to meet specified investment goals for the benefit of the investors. Investors may be institutions (insurance companies, pension funds, corporations, charities, educational establishments etc.) or private investors (both directly via investment contracts and more commonly via collective investment schemes e.g. mutual funds or exchange-traded funds).
The term 'asset management' is often used to refer to the investment management of investment funds, while the more generic term 'fund management' may refer to all forms of institutional investment as well as investment management for private investors. Investment managers who specialize in advisory or discretionary management on behalf of (normally wealthy) private investors may often refer to their services as money management or portfolio management often within the context of "private banking". Wealth management by financial advisors takes a more holistic view of a client, with allocations to particular asset management strategies.
The term fund manager, or investment adviser in the United States, refers to both a firm that provides investment management services and an individual who directs fund management decisions.
According to a Boston Consulting Group study, the assets managed professionally for fees reached an all-time high of US$62.4 trillion in 2012, after remaining flat-lined since 2007.Furthermore, these industry assets under management were expected to reach US$70.2 trillion at the end of 2013 as per a Cerulli Associates estimate.
The global investment management industry is highly concentrated in nature, in a universe of about 70,000 funds roughly 99.7% of the US fund flows in 2012 went into just 185 funds. Additionally, a majority of fund managers report that more than 50% of their inflows go to only three funds.[ citation needed ]
The business of investment has several facets, the employment of professional fund managers, research (of individual assets and asset classes), dealing, settlement, marketing, internal auditing, and the preparation of reports for clients. The largest financial fund managers are firms that exhibit all the complexity their size demands. Apart from the people who bring in the money (marketers) and the people who direct investment (the fund managers), there are compliance staff (to ensure accord with legislative and regulatory constraints), internal auditors of various kinds (to examine internal systems and controls), financial controllers (to account for the institutions' own money and costs), computer experts, and "back office" employees (to track and record transactions and fund valuations for up to thousands of clients per institution).
Key problems include:
Institutions often control huge shareholdings. In most cases they are acting as fiduciary agents rather than principals (direct owners). The owners of shares theoretically have great power to alter the companies via the voting rights the shares carry and the consequent ability to pressure managements, and if necessary out-vote them at annual and other meetings.
In practice, the ultimate owners of shares often do not exercise the power they collectively hold (because the owners are many, each with small holdings); financial institutions (as agents) sometimes do. There is a general belief[ by whom? ] that shareholders – in this case, the institutions acting as agents—could and should exercise more active influence over the companies in which they hold shares (e.g., to hold managers to account, to ensure Board's effective functioning). Such action would add a pressure group to those (the regulators and the Board) overseeing management.
However, there is the problem of how the institution should exercise this power. One way is for the institution to decide, the other is for the institution to poll its beneficiaries. Assuming that the institution polls, should it then: (i) Vote the entire holding as directed by the majority of votes cast? (ii) Split the vote (where this is allowed) according to the proportions of the vote? (iii) Or respect the abstainers and only vote the respondents' holdings?
The price signals generated by large active managers holding or not holding the stock may contribute to management change. For example, this is the case when a large active manager sells his position in a company, leading to (possibly) a decline in the stock price, but more importantly a loss of confidence by the markets in the management of the company, thus precipitating changes in the management team.
Some institutions have been more vocal and active in pursuing such matters; for instance, some firms believe that there are investment advantages to accumulating substantial minority shareholdings (i.e. 10% or more) and putting pressure on management to implement significant changes in the business. In some cases, institutions with minority holdings work together to force management change. Perhaps more frequent is the sustained pressure that large institutions bring to bear on management teams through persuasive discourse and PR. On the other hand, some of the largest investment managers—such as BlackRock and Vanguard—advocate simply owning every company, reducing the incentive to influence management teams. A reason for this last strategy is that the investment manager prefers a closer, more open and honest relationship with a company's management team than would exist if they exercised control; allowing them to make a better investment decision.
The national context in which shareholder representation considerations are set is variable and important. The USA is a litigious society and shareholders use the law as a lever to pressure management teams. In Japan it is traditional for shareholders to be low in the 'pecking order,' which often allows management and labor to ignore the rights of the ultimate owners. Whereas US firms generally cater to shareholders, Japanese businesses generally exhibit a stakeholder mentality, in which they seek consensus amongst all interested parties (against a background of strong unions and labour legislation).
Conventional assets under management of the global fund management industry increased by 10% in 2010, to $79.3 trillion. Pension assets accounted for $29.9 trillion of the total, with $24.7 trillion invested in mutual funds and $24.6 trillion in insurance funds. Together with alternative assets (sovereign wealth funds, hedge funds, private equity funds and exchange traded funds) and funds of wealthy individuals, assets of the global fund management industry totalled around $117 trillion. Growth in 2010 followed a 14% increase in the previous year and was due both to the recovery in equity markets during the year and an inflow of new funds.
The US remained by far the biggest source of funds, accounting for around a half of conventional assets under management or some $36 trillion. The UK was the second largest centre in the world and by far the largest in Europe with around 8% of the global total.
The 3-P's (Philosophy, Process and People) are often used to describe the reasons why the manager is able to produce above average results.
At the heart of the investment management industry are the managers who invest and divest client investments.
A certified company investment advisor should conduct an assessment of each client's individual needs and risk profile. The advisor then recommends appropriate investments.
The different asset class definitions are widely debated, but four common divisions are stocks, bonds, real estate and commodities. The exercise of allocating funds among these assets (and among individual securities within each asset class) is what investment management firms are paid for. Asset classes exhibit different market dynamics, and different interaction effects; thus, the allocation of the money among asset classes will have a significant effect on the performance of the fund. Some research suggests that allocation among asset classes has more predictive power than the choice of individual holdings in determining portfolio return. Arguably, the skill of a successful investment manager resides in constructing the asset allocation, and separate individual holdings, so as to outperform certain benchmarks (e.g., the peer group of competing funds, bond and stock indices).
It is important to look at the evidence on the long-term returns to different assets, and to holding period returns (the returns that accrue on average over different lengths of investment). For example, over very long holding periods (e.g. 10+ years) in most countries, equities have generated higher returns than bonds, and bonds have generated higher returns than cash. According to financial theory, this is because equities are riskier (more volatile) than bonds which are themselves more risky than cash.
Against the background of the asset allocation, fund managers consider the degree of diversification that makes sense for a given client (given its risk preferences) and construct a list of planned holdings accordingly. The list will indicate what percentage of the fund should be invested in each particular stock or bond. The theory of portfolio diversification was originated by Markowitz (and many others). Effective diversification requires management of the correlation between the asset returns and the liability returns, issues internal to the portfolio (individual holdings volatility), and cross-correlations between the returns.
There are a range of different styles of fund management that the institution can implement. For example, growth, value, growth at a reasonable price (GARP), market neutral, small capitalisation, indexed, etc. Each of these approaches has its distinctive features, adherents and, in any particular financial environment, distinctive risk characteristics. For example, there is evidence that growth styles (buying rapidly growing earnings) are especially effective when the companies able to generate such growth are scarce; conversely, when such growth is plentiful, then there is evidence that value styles tend to outperform the indices particularly successfully.
Large asset managers are increasingly profiling their equity portfolio managers to trade their orders more effectively. While this strategy is less effective with small-cap trades, it has been effective for portfolios with large-cap companies.
Fund performance is often thought to be the acid test of fund management, and in the institutional context, accurate measurement is a necessity. For that purpose, institutions measure the performance of each fund (and usually for internal purposes components of each fund) under their management, and performance is also measured by external firms that specialize in performance measurement. The leading performance measurement firms (e.g. Russell Investment Group in the US or BI-SAMin Europe) compile aggregate industry data, e.g., showing how funds in general performed against given indices and peer groups over various time periods.
In a typical case (let us say an equity fund), the calculation would be made (as far as the client is concerned) every quarter and would show a percentage change compared with the prior quarter (e.g., +4.6% total return in US dollars). This figure would be compared with other similar funds managed within the institution (for purposes of monitoring internal controls), with performance data for peer group funds, and with relevant indices (where available) or tailor-made performance benchmarks where appropriate. The specialist performance measurement firms calculate quartile and decile data and close attention would be paid to the (percentile) ranking of any fund.
It is probably appropriate for an investment firm to persuade its clients to assess performance over longer periods (e.g., 3 to 5 years) to smooth out very short-term fluctuations in performance and the influence of the business cycle. This can be difficult however and, industry wide, there is a serious preoccupation with short-term numbers and the effect on the relationship with clients (and resultant business risks for the institutions).
An enduring problem is whether to measure before-tax or after-tax performance. After-tax measurement represents the benefit to the investor, but investors' tax positions may vary. Before-tax measurement can be misleading, especially in regimens that tax realised capital gains (and not unrealised). It is thus possible that successful active managers (measured before tax) may produce miserable after-tax results. One possible solution is to report the after-tax position of some standard taxpayer.
Performance measurement should not be reduced to the evaluation of fund returns alone, but must also integrate other fund elements that would be of interest to investors, such as the measure of risk taken. Several other aspects are also part of performance measurement: evaluating if managers have succeeded in reaching their objective, i.e. if their return was sufficiently high to reward the risks taken; how they compare to their peers; and finally whether the portfolio management results were due to luck or the manager's skill. The need to answer all these questions has led to the development of more sophisticated performance measures, many of which originate in modern portfolio theory. Modern portfolio theory established the quantitative link that exists between portfolio risk and return. The capital asset pricing model (CAPM) developed by Sharpe (1964) highlighted the notion of rewarding risk and produced the first performance indicators, be they risk-adjusted ratios (Sharpe ratio, information ratio) or differential returns compared to benchmarks (alphas). The Sharpe ratio is the simplest and best known performance measure. It measures the return of a portfolio in excess of the risk-free rate, compared to the total risk of the portfolio. This measure is said to be absolute, as it does not refer to any benchmark, avoiding drawbacks related to a poor choice of benchmark. Meanwhile, it does not allow the separation of the performance of the market in which the portfolio is invested from that of the manager. The information ratio is a more general form of the Sharpe ratio in which the risk-free asset is replaced by a benchmark portfolio. This measure is relative, as it evaluates portfolio performance in reference to a benchmark, making the result strongly dependent on this benchmark choice.
Portfolio alpha is obtained by measuring the difference between the return of the portfolio and that of a benchmark portfolio. This measure appears to be the only reliable performance measure to evaluate active management. In fact, we have to distinguish between normal returns, provided by the fair reward for portfolio exposure to different risks, and obtained through passive management, from abnormal performance (or outperformance) due to the manager's skill (or luck), whether through market timing, stock picking, or good fortune. The first component is related to allocation and style investment choices, which may not be under the sole control of the manager, and depends on the economic context, while the second component is an evaluation of the success of the manager's decisions. Only the latter, measured by alpha, allows the evaluation of the manager's true performance (but then, only if you assume that any outperformance is due to skill and not luck).
Portfolio return may be evaluated using factor models. The first model, proposed by Jensen (1968), relies on the CAPM and explains portfolio returns with the market index as the only factor. It quickly becomes clear, however, that one factor is not enough to explain the returns very well and that other factors have to be considered. Multi-factor models were developed as an alternative to the CAPM, allowing a better description of portfolio risks and a more accurate evaluation of a portfolio's performance. For example, Fama and French (1993) have highlighted two important factors that characterize a company's risk in addition to market risk. These factors are the book-to-market ratio and the company's size as measured by its market capitalization. Fama and French therefore proposed three-factor model to describe portfolio normal returns (Fama–French three-factor model). Carhart (1997) proposed to add momentum as a fourth factor to allow the short-term persistence of returns to be taken into account. Also of interest for performance measurement is Sharpe's (1992) style analysis model, in which factors are style indices. This model allows a custom benchmark for each portfolio to be developed, using the linear combination of style indices that best replicate portfolio style allocation, and leads to an accurate evaluation of portfolio alpha.
Increasingly, international business schools are incorporating the subject into their course outlines and some have formulated the title of 'Investment Management' or 'Asset Management' conferred as specialist bachelor's degrees (e.g. Cass Business School, London). For those with aspirations to become an investment manager, further education may be needed beyond a bachelors in business, finance, or economics. Designations, such as the Chartered Investment Manager (CIM) in Canada, are required for practitioners in the investment management industry. A graduate degree or an investment qualification such as the Chartered Financial Analyst designation (CFA) may help in having a career in investment management. [ citation needed ]There is evidence that any particular qualification enhances the most desirable characteristic of an investment manager, that is the ability to select investments that result in an above average (risk weighted) long-term performance.
Wealth management, where financial advisors perform financial planning for clients, has traditionally served as an intermediary to investment managers in the United States and less so in Europe.However, as of 2019, the lines were becoming blurred.
A hedge fund is an investment fund that trades in relatively liquid assets and is able to make extensive use of more complex trading, portfolio-construction and risk management techniques to improve performance, such as short selling, leverage and derivatives. Because of its use of complex techniques, financial regulators typically do not allow hedge funds to be marketed or made available to anyone except institutional investors, high net worth individuals and other investors who are considered sufficiently sophisticated.
Passive management is an investing strategy that tracks a market-weighted index or portfolio. Passive management is most common on the equity market, where index funds track a stock market index, but it is becoming more common in other investment types, including bonds, commodities and hedge funds.
An index fund is a mutual fund or exchange-traded fund (ETF) designed to follow certain preset rules so that the fund can track a specified basket of underlying investments. Those rules may include tracking prominent indexes like the S&P 500 or the Dow Jones Industrial Average or implementation rules, such as tax-management, tracking error minimization, large block trading or patient/flexible trading strategies that allows for greater tracking error, but lower market impact costs. Index funds may also have rules that screen for social and sustainable criteria.
In finance, a portfolio is a collection of investments held by an investment company, hedge fund, financial institution or individual.
Active management refers to a portfolio management strategy where the manager makes specific investments with the goal of outperforming an investment benchmark index or target return. In passive management, investors expect a return that closely replicates the investment weighting and returns of a benchmark index and will often invest in an index fund.
A "fund of funds" (FOF) is an investment strategy of holding a portfolio of other investment funds rather than investing directly in stocks, bonds or other securities. This type of investing is often referred to as multi-manager investment. A fund of funds may be "fettered", meaning that it invests only in funds managed by the same investment company, or "unfettered", meaning that it can invest in external funds run by other managers.
Asset allocation is the implementation of an investment strategy that attempts to balance risk versus reward by adjusting the percentage of each asset in an investment portfolio according to the investor's risk tolerance, goals and investment time frame. The focus is on the characteristics of the overall portfolio. Such a strategy contrasts with an approach that focuses on individual assets.
Wilshire Associates, Inc. is an independent investment management firm that offers consulting services and analytical products and manages fund of funds investment vehicles for a global client base. Wilshire manages capital for more than 600 institutional investors globally representing more than $8 trillion of capital. Wilshire is also known for the creation of the Wilshire 5000 stock index in 1974 and more recently the Wilshire 4500 stock index.
Dynamic asset allocation is a strategy used by investment products such as hedge funds, mutual funds, credit derivatives, index funds, principal protected notes and other structured investment products to achieve exposure to various investment opportunities and provide 100% principal protection.
Core & Satellite Portfolio Management is an investment strategy that incorporates traditional fixed-income and equity-based securities known as the "core" portion of the portfolio, with a percentage of selected individual securities in the fixed-income and equity-based side of the portfolio known as the "satellite" portion.
Robert D. Arnott is an American entrepreneur, investor, editor and writer who focuses on articles about quantitative investing.
Socially responsible investing (SRI), or social investment, also known as sustainable, socially conscious, "green" or ethical investing, is any investment strategy which seeks to consider both financial return and social/environmental good to bring about social change regarded as positive by proponents.
A 130–30 fund or a ratio up to 150/50 is a type of collective investment vehicle, often a type of specialty mutual fund, but which allows the fund manager simultaneously to hold both long and short positions on different equities in the fund. Traditionally, mutual funds were long-only investments. 130–30 funds are a fast-growing segment of the financial industry; they should be available both as traditional mutual funds, and as exchange-traded funds (ETFs). While this type of investment has existed for a while in the hedge fund industry, its availability for retail investors is relatively new.
A target date fund (TDF) – also known as a lifecycle, dynamic-risk or age-based fund – is a collective investment scheme, often a mutual fund or a collective trust fund, designed to provide a simple investment solution through a portfolio whose asset allocation mix becomes more conservative as the target date approaches.
Performance attribution, or investment performance attribution is a set of techniques that performance analysts use to explain why a portfolio's performance differed from the benchmark. This difference between the portfolio return and the benchmark return is known as the active return. The active return is the component of a portfolio's performance that arises from the fact that the portfolio is actively managed.
A portfolio manager is a professional responsible for making investment decisions and carrying out investment activities on behalf of vested individuals or institutions. The investors invest their money into the portfolio manager's investment policy for future fund growth such as a retirement fund, endowment fund, education fund, or for other purposes. Portfolio managers work with a team of analysts and researchers, and are responsible for establishing an investment strategy, selecting appropriate investments, and allocating each investment properly towards an investment fund or asset management vehicle.
Risk parity is an approach to investment portfolio management which focuses on allocation of risk, usually defined as volatility, rather than allocation of capital. The risk parity approach asserts that when asset allocations are adjusted to the same risk level, the risk parity portfolio can achieve a higher Sharpe ratio and can be more resistant to market downturns than the traditional portfolio. Risk parity is vulnerable to significant shifts in correlation regimes, such as observed in Q1 2020, which led to the significant underperformance of risk-parity funds in the Covid19 sell-off.
A stock index, or stock market index, is an index that measures a stock market, or a subset of the stock market, that helps investors compare current price levels with past prices to calculate market performance. It is computed from the prices of selected stocks.
An investment fund is a way of investing money alongside other investors in order to benefit from the inherent advantages of working as part of a group. These advantages include an ability to:
In finance, active return refers the returns produced by an investment portfolio due to active management decisions made by the portfolio manager that cannot be explained by the portfolio's exposure to returns or to risks in the portfolio's investment benchmark; active return is usually the objective of active management and subject of performance attribution. In contrast, passive returns refers to returns produced by an investment portfolio due to its exposure to returns of its benchmark. Passive returns can be obtained deliberately through passive tracking of the portfolio benchmark, or obtained inadvertently through an investment process unrelated to tracking the index.