Fiscal year 2019 was a curious year for the Ivy League endowments. In a year with strong returns in key private market investment classes, the average Ivy underperformed a traditional domestic balanced 60-40 portfolio in FY 2019. Ivies also experienced a wider dispersion of returns and saw a shift in the historical positioning of performance leaders and laggards.
Since its launch in 2007, PIMCO Income Fund has become one of the top-performing US bond funds. However, in 2019 the fund has underperformed both the benchmark and most of its peers. Using this fund as an example, we will demonstrate how advanced returns-based analysis can be used to analyze complex fixed income products without delving into volumes of complex holdings.
After years of underperformance following the financial crisis, the non-traditional bond fund segment is beginning to shine, outperforming the broader market index in the face of rising rates.
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Investors have a tendency to downplay interest rate sensitivity as a factor influencing equity products, with the assumption being that its effect must be negligible at most. One of a handful of exceptions to that assumption, however, is concern over the rate sensitivity of low volatility “smart beta” funds.
In stark contrast to FY 2016, this past year was a strong one for most endowments. In fact, nearly all the Ivy League endowments, Harvard being the only exception, beat the 60-40 portfolio, a commonly cited benchmark that endowments measure their performance against.
The returns of endowments can be attributed to two fundamental components: asset allocation and security selection. Asset allocation is what a factor model is generally able to explain, shown in terms of factor exposures.
Morningstar’s 2017 Target Date Landscape Report indicates that approximately one quarter of TDF series shifted the target equity allocation of at least one vintage by 15% or more over the last 5 years and nearly half by at least 5%.
Four of the other five fund families with holdings vs. returns-based discrepancies are of a similar nature in that they have investments in derivatives, leveraged funds or absolute return funds, which affect the holdings tally. In each of these cases, DSA provides a much closer estimate to the intended systematic exposure.
We demonstrate the advantages of using returns-based analysis in determining the effective glide-paths of Target-Date Funds vs. the stated ones