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Does Asset Allocation Policy Explain 40, 90, 100 Percent of Performance?

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Does asset allocation policy explain 40 percent, 90 percent, or 100 percent of performance? According to some well-known studies, more than 90 percent of the variability of a typical plan sponsor's performance over time is attributable to asset allocation. However, few people want to explain variability over time. Instead, an analyst might want to know how important it is in explaining the differences in return from one fund to another, or what percentage of the level of a typical fund's return is the result of asset allocation. To address these aspects of the role of asset allocation policy, we investigated these three questions. 1. How much of the variability of returns across time is explained by asset allocation policy? 2. How much of the variation of returns among funds is explained by differences in asset allocation policy? 3. What portion of the return level is explained by returns to asset allocation policy? We examined 10 years of monthly returns to 94 balanced mutual funds and 5 years of quarterly returns to 58 pension funds. For the mutual funds, we used return-based style analysis for the entire 120-month period to estimate policy weights for each fund. We carried out the same type of analysis on quarterly returns of 58 pension funds for the five-year 1993-97 period. For the pension funds, rather than estimated policy weights, we used the actual policy weights and asset-class benchmarks of the pension funds. We answered the three questions as follows: In summary, our analysis shows that asset allocation explains about 90 percent of the variability of a fund's returns over time but explains only about 40 percent of the variation of returns among funds. Furthermore, on average across funds, asset allocation policy explains slightly more than 100 percent of the levels of returns. Thus, the answer to the question of whether asset allocation policy explains 40 percent, 90 percent, 100 percent of performance, depends on how the question is interpreted.
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26 ©2000, Association for Investment Management and Research
Does Asset Allocation Policy Explain
40, 90, or 100 Percent of Performance?
Roger G. Ibbotson and Paul D. Kaplan
Disagreement over the importance of asset allocation policy stems from
asking different questions. We used balanced mutual fund and pension
fund data to answer the three relevant questions. We found that about 90
percent of the variability in returns of a typical fund across time is explained
by policy, about 40 percent of the variation of returns among funds is
explained by policy, and on average about 100 percent of the return level is
explained by the policy return level.
oes asset allocation policy explain 40 per-
cent, 90 percent, or 100 percent of perfor-
mance? The answer depends on how the
question is asked and what an analyst is
trying to explain. According to well-known studies
by Brinson and colleagues, more than 90 percent of
the variability in a typical plan sponsor’s perfor-
mance over time is the result of asset allocation
policy.1 So, if one is trying to explain the variability
of returns over time, asset allocation is very impor-
tant.
Unfortunately, the Brinson et al. studies are
often misinterpreted and the results applied to
questions that the studies never intended to
answer. For example, an analyst might want to
know how important asset allocation is in explain-
ing the variation of performance among funds.
Because the Brinson studies did not address this
question, the analyst can neither look to them to
find the answer nor fault them for not answering it
correctly.2 A different study is required.
Finally, an analyst might want to know what
percentage of the level of a typical fund’s return is
ascribable to asset allocation policy. Again, the
Brinson studies do not address this question. A
different study is needed.
Thus, three distinct questions remain about the
importance of asset allocation:
1. How much of the variability of returns across
time is explained by policy (the question Brin-
son et al. asked)? In other words, how much of
a fund’s ups and downs do its policy bench-
marks explain?
2. How much of the variation in returns among
funds is explained by differences in policy? In
other words, how much of the difference
between two funds’ performance is a result of
their policy difference?
3. What portion of the return level is explained by
policy return? In other words, what is the ratio
of the policy benchmark return to the fund’s
actual return?
Much of the recent controversy about the
importance of asset allocation stems from treating
the answer that Brinson et al. provided to Question
1 as an answer to Questions 2 and 3.
The purpose of our study was to ask and
answer all three questions. To do this, we examined
10 years of monthly returns to 94 U.S. balanced
mutual funds and 5 years of quarterly returns to 58
pension funds. We performed a different analysis
for each question.
Framework
Our data consisted of the total return for each fund
for each period of time (a month or a quarter). The
first step in our analysis was to decompose each
total re turn, TR, into two components, policy return
and active return, as follows:
TRi,t = (1 + PRi,t)(1 + ARi,t) – 1,
where
TRi,t= total return of fund i in period t
PRi,t= policy return of fund i in period t
ARi,t= active return of fund i in period t
Roger G. Ibbotson is professor of finance at the Yale
School of Management and chair of Ibbotson Associates.
Paul D. Kaplan is the director of the Morningstar Center
for Quantitative Research. He was vice president and
chief economist at Ibbotson Associates when this article
was written.
D
Copyright 2000,
Financial Analysts Journal
.
Reproduced and republished with permission
from the Association for Investment Manage-
ment and Research. All rights reserved.
Does Asset Allocation Policy Explain 40, 90, or 100 Percent of Performance?
January/February 2000 27
Policy return is the part of the total return that
comes from the asset allocation policy. Active
return is the remainder. Active return depends on
both the manager’s ability to actively over- or
underweight asset classes and securities relative to
the policy and on the magnitude and timing of
those bets.
The asset allocation policy of each fund can be
represented as a set of asset-class weights that sum
to 1. For the pension funds in this study, these
weights were known in advance. For the mutual
funds, the policy weights were determined by
return-based style analysis, which is described in
the “Data” section. The policy return of the fund
over a given period of time can be computed from
the policy weights and returns on asset-class
benchmarks as follows:
PRi,t = w1iR1t + w2iR2t + … + wkiRktc,
where
w1i, w2i, . . ., wki= policy weights of fund i
R1t, R2t, …, Rkt= returns on the asset classes
in period t
c = approximate cost of replicat-
ing the policy mix through
indexed mutual funds, as a
percentage of assets
Thus, in addition to fund returns, we needed policy
weights for each fund and total returns on
asset-class benchmarks. Given the total returns to
the funds and the estimated policy returns of the
funds, we solved for the active returns.
In our time-series analysis, we used the
period-by-period returns. In our cross-sectional
analysis, we used the compound annual rates of
return over the period of analysis. For each fund,
we computed the compound annual total return
over the entire period as follows:
where
TRi= compound annual total return on
fund i over the entire period of
analysis
TRi,t= total return of fund i in period t
T= number of period returns
N= length of the entire period of
analysis, in years
Similarly, we computed the compound annual
policy return over the entire period as follows:
where PRi is the compound annual policy return on
fund i over the entire period of analysis and PRi,t is
the policy return to fund i in period t.
Data
For the mutual fund portion of this study, we used
10 years of monthly returns for 94 U.S. balanced
funds. The 94 funds represent all of the balanced
funds in the Morningstar universe that had at least
10 years of data ending March 31, 1998. Policy
weights for each fund were estimated by perform-
ing return-based style analysis over the entire
120-month period.3 Tabl e 1 shows the asset-class
benchmarks used and the average fund exposure
to each asset class.
In calculating the policy returns for each fund,
we assumed that the cost of replicating the policy
mix through index mutual funds would be 2 basis
points a month (approximately 25 bps annually).
TRi1TRi1,
+()1TRi2,
+()1TRiT,
+()
N1,=
PRi1PRi1,
+()1PRi2,
+()1PRiT,
+()
N1,=
Table 1. Asset Classes and Benchmarks for Balanced Mutual Funds
Asset Class Benchmark Average Allocation
Large-cap U.S. stocks CRSP 1–2 portfolioa37.4%
Small-cap U.S. stocks CRSP 6–8 portfolioa12.2
Non-U.S. stocks MSCI Europe/Australasia/Far East Index 2.1
U.S. bonds Lehman Brothers Aggregate Bond Index 35.2
Cash 30-day U.S. T-billsb13.2
aConstructed by CRSP. CRSP excludes unit investment trusts, closed-end funds, real estate investment
trusts, Americus trusts, foreign stocks, and American Depositary Receipts from the portfolios. CRSP uses
only NYSE firms to determine the size breakpoints for the portfolios. Specifically, CRSP ranks all eligible
NYSE stocks by company size (market value of outstanding equity) and then splits them into 10 equally
populated groups, or deciles. The largest companies are in Decile 1, and the smallest are in Decile 10. The
capitalization for the largest company in each decile serves as the breakpoint for that decile. Breakpoints
are rebalanced on the last day of trading in March, June, September, and December. CRSP then assigns
NYSE and Amex/Nasdaq companies to the portfolios according to the decile breakpoints. Monthly
portfolio returns are market-cap-weighted averages of the individual returns within each of the 10
portfolios. The 1–2 portfolio is the combination of Deciles 1 and 2, and the 6–8 portfolio is the combination
of Deciles 6, 7, and 8.
bIbbotson Associates (1998).
Financial Analysts Journal
28 ©2000, Association for Investment Management and Research
Stevens, Surz, and Wimer (1999) provided the
same type of analysis on quarterly returns of 58
pension funds over the five-year 1993–97 period.4
We used the actual policy weights and asset-class
benchmarks of the pension funds, however, rather
than estimated policy weights and the same
asset-class benchmarks for all funds. In each quar-
ter, the policy weights were known in advance of
the realized returns.5 We report the pension fund
results together with our analysis of the mutual
fund returns in the next section.
Questions and Answers
Now consider the original three questions posed by
the study: How much of the variability of return
across time is explained by asset allocation policy,
how much of the variation among funds is
explained by the policy, and what portion of the
return level is explained by policy return?
Question #1: Variability across Time. The
Brinson et al. studies from 1986 and 1991 answered
the question of how much of the variability of fund
returns is explained by the variability of policy
returns. They calculated the result by regressing
each fund’s total returns (TRi,t in our notation)
against its policy returns (PRi,t), reporting the R2
value for each fund in the study, then examining
the average, median, and distribution of these
results.
Figure 1 illustrates the meaning of the
time-series R2 with the use of a single fund from
our sample. In this example, we regressed the 120
monthly returns of a particular mutual fund
against the corresponding monthly returns of the
fund’s estimated policy benchmark. Because most
of the points cluster around the fitted regression
line, the R2 is quite high. About 90 percent of the
variability of the monthly returns of this fund can
be explained by the variability of the fund’s policy
benchmark.
In the first Brinson et al. study (1986), the
authors studied quarterly returns over the 1974–83
period for 91 large U.S. pension funds. The average
R2 was 93.6 percent. In the second Brinson et al.
study (1991), they studied quarterly returns over
the 1978–87 period for 82 large U.S. pension funds.
The average R2 was 91.5 percent. Based on these
results, the authors stated that more than 90 percent
of the variability of the average fund’s return across
time is explained by that fund’s policy mix.
The Brinson et al. results show that strategic
asset allocation explains much of the variability of
pension fund returns because plan sponsors select
a long-term strategic target and tend to stick to it.
Figure 1. Time-Series Regression of Monthly Fund Return versus Fund
Policy Return: One Mutual Fund, April 1988–March 1998
Note: The sample fund’s policy allocations among the general asset classes were 52.4 percent U.S.
large-cap stocks, 9.8 percent U.S. small-cap stocks, 3.2 percent non-U.S. stocks, 20.9 percent U.S. bonds,
and 13.7 percent cash.
10
8
6
4
2
0
–2
–4
–6
–8
Fund Return
(% per month)
–8 10
Policy Return (% per month)
–6 –4 024 6–2 8
R
2
= 0.90
Does Asset Allocation Policy Explain 40, 90, or 100 Percent of Performance?
January/February 2000 29
If plan sponsors were more active, the R2s would
be lower.
The results from our analysis of both the
mutual fund and the pension data are presented in
Table 2, together with the Brinson et al. results. Our
results confirm the Brinson result that approxi-
mately 90 percent of the variability of a fund’s
return across time is explained by the variability of
policy returns. The result in our study for the
median mutual fund was 87.6 percent, and the
result for the median pension fund was 90.7 per-
cent. The mean results in our study were slightly
lower (81.4 percent and 88.0 percent, respectively)
because they were skewed by the effect of a few
outlier funds. These results are consistent with the
notion that pension fund managers as a group are
less active than balanced mutual fund managers.
Table 3 displays the range of outcomes in our
study and shows that the mutual funds were more
active than the pension funds. The mutual fund at
the 5th percentile of R2 had only 46.9 percent of the
variability of returns explained by the variability of
returns of the policy, whereas for the fund at the
95th percentile, the R2 was 94.1 percent. For the
pension funds, the R2s are in the tighter range of
66.2 percent at the 5th percentile and 97.2 percent
at the 95th percentile.
We next considered that the time-series R2 may
be high simply because funds participate in the
capital markets in general and not because they
follow a specific asset allocation policy. We
explored this idea by regressing each mutual fund’s
total returns against the total returns to a common
benchmark (rather than each against the returns to
its own policy benchmark). For common bench-
marks, we used the S&P 500 Index and the average
of all of the policy benchmarks shown in Table 1.
The results are shown in Table 4. With the S&P
500 as the benchmark for all funds, the average R2
was more than 75 percent and the median was
nearly 82 percent. With the average policy bench-
marks across funds as the benchmark, the average
R2 was nearly 79 percent and the median was more
than 85 percent. These results are relatively close to
those obtained when we used each specific fund’s
benchmark. Hence, the high R2 in the time-series
regressions result primarily from the funds’ partic-
ipation in the capital markets in general, not from
the specific asset allocation policies of each fund. In
other words, the results of the Brinson et al. studies
and our results presented in Table 2 are a case of a
rising tide lifting all boats.
Hensel, Ezra, and Ilkiw (1991) made a similar
point in their study of the importance of asset allo-
cation policy. In their framework, a naive portfolio
had to be chosen as a baseline in order to evaluate
the importance of asset allocation policy. They
pointed out that in the Brinson et al. studies, the
baseline portfolio was 100 percent in cash. In other
words, the Brinson studies were written as if the
alternative to selecting an asset allocation policy
were to avoid risky assets altogether. When we
used a more realistic baseline, such as the average
policy benchmark across all funds, we found that
the specific policies explain far less than half of the
remaining time-series variation of the funds’
returns.
Question #2: Variation among Funds. To
answer the question of how much of the variation
in returns among funds is explained by policy dif-
ferences, one must compare funds with each other
through the use of cross-sectional analysis. Many
people mistakenly thought the Brinson studies
answered this question. If all funds were invested
passively under the same asset allocation policy,
there would be no variation among funds (yet 100
Table 2. Comparison of Time-Series
Regression Studies
Measure
Brinson
1986
Brinson
1991
Mutual
Funds
Pension
Funds
R2
Mean 93.6% 91.5% 81.4% 88.0%
Median NA NA 87.6 90.7
Active returna
Mean –1.10 –0.08 –0.27 –0.44
Median NA NA 0.00 0.18
NA = not available.
aActive return is expressed as a percentage per year.
Table 3. Range of Time-Series Regression
R
2
Values
Percentile Mutual Funds Pension Funds
5 46.9% 66.2%
25 79.8 94.1
50 87.6 90.7
75 91.4 94.7
95 94.1 97.2
Table 4. Explaining a Mutual Fund’s Time
Series of Returns Using Different
Benchmarks
R2S&P 500 Average Policy Fund’s Policy
Mean 75.2% 78.8% 81.4%
Median 81.9 85.2 87.6
Financial Analysts Journal
30 ©2000, Association for Investment Management and Research
percent of the variability of returns across time of
each fund would be attributable to asset allocation
policy). If all funds were invested passively but had
a wide range of asset allocation policies, however,
all of the variation of returns would be attributable
to policy.
To answer the question of how much of the
variation in returns among funds is explained by
policy differences, we compared each fund return
with each other fund’s return. We carried out a
cross-sectional regression of compound annual
total returns, TRi, for the entire period on com-
pound annual policy returns, PRi, for the entire
period. The R2 statistic of this regression showed
that for the mutual funds studied, 40 percent of the
return difference was explained by policy and for
the pension fund sample, the result was 35 percent.
Figure 2 is the plot of the 10-year compound
annual total returns against the 10-year compound
annual policy returns for the mutual fund sample.
This plot demonstrates visually the relationship
between policy and total returns. The mutual fund
result shows that, because policy explains only 40
percent of the variation of returns across funds, the
remaining 60 percent is explained by other factors,
such as asset-class timing, style within asset classes,
security selection, and fees. For pension funds, the
variation of returns among funds that was not
explained by policy was ascribable to the same
factors and to manager selection.
The cross-sectional R2 depended on how much
the asset allocation policies of funds differed from
one another and on how much the funds engaged
in active management. To see how much asset allo-
cation policies differed, we examined the cross-sec-
tional distributions of the style weights. Table 5
presents the cross-sectional averages, standard
deviations, and various percentiles of the style
weights of the mutual funds. The last column pre-
sents these statistics for the total style allocation to
equity. The large standard deviations and spreads
between the percentiles indicate large variations in
asset allocation policies among the funds.
Given how diverse the asset allocation policies
are among these mutual funds, the relatively low
R2 of 40 percent must be the result of a large degree
Figure 2. Fund versus Policy: 10-Year Compound Annual Return across
Funds, April 1988–March 1998
18
16
14
12
10
8
6
4
2
0
10-Year Compound Annual
Fund Return (%)
6 18
10-Year Compound Annual Policy Return (%)
810 14 1612
R
2
= 0.40
Does Asset Allocation Policy Explain 40, 90, or 100 Percent of Performance?
January/February 2000 31
of active management. To see how the degree of
active management can affect the cross-sectional
R2, we calculated the cross-sectional R2 between the
10-year annual returns of the policy benchmarks
and the 10-year annual returns of a set of modified
fund returns. Each modified fund return was a
weighted average of the actual fund return with the
return on the policy benchmark so that the degree
of active management was adjusted as follows:
where the value of x sets the level of active manage-
ment. Setting x equal to 1 gives the sample result.
Setting x less than 1 reduces the level of active
management below what the funds actually did.
Setting x greater than 1 shorts the benchmark and
takes a levered position in the fund, thus increasing
the level of active management beyond what the
funds actually did.
The compound annual return of modified fund
returns, , was calculated the same way as the
compound annual return of actual fund returns (i.e.,
as the geometric mean of the modified annual
returns).
Figure 3 shows the cross-sectional R2 from
regressing the modified compound annual returns
on compound annual policy returns for various val-
ues of x. At x = 1, the cross-sectional R2 is our original
result, 40 percent. If the funds had been half as active
(x = 0.5), the R2 would have been much higher, 81
percent. On the other hand, if the funds had been
one-and-a-half times as active (x = 1.5), the R2 would
have been only 14 percent. Thus, this approach
shows how the degree of active management affects
the cross-sectional R2.
Table 5. Cross-Sectional Distributions of Balanced Mutual Fund Policy
Weights
Measure
Large-Cap
U.S. Stocks
Small-Cap
U.S. Stocks
Non-U.S.
Stocks U.S. Bonds Cash Total Equities
Average 37.4% 12.2% 2.1% 35.2% 13.2% 51.6%
Standard deviation 17.0 7.6 2.3 14.4 15.9 16.0
Percentile
5 1.2 1.1 0.0 12.8 0.0 23.3
25 29.9 7.1 0.0 26.6 1.0 44.5
50 40.2 11.0 1.5 35.2 7.7 54.5
75 48.8 16.5 3.1 45.1 17.5 62.0
95 56.2 24.8 6.4 56.7 47.3 74.1
TR*it,xTRit,1x()PRit,,+=
TR*i
Figure 3. Degree of Active Management versus Cross-Sectional
R
2,
April 1988–March 1998
100
90
80
70
60
50
40
30
20
10
0
Cross-Sectional R
2
(%)
0 2
Degree of Active Management
0.5 1 1.5
81%
40% (mutual fund sample)
14%
More ActiveLess Active
Financial Analysts Journal
32 ©2000, Association for Investment Management and Research
Question #3: Return Level. Many people
also mistakenly thought the Brinson et al. studies
were answering what portion of the return level is
explained by asset allocation policy return, with an
answer indicating nearly 90 percent. Brinson and his
co-authors were not, however, addressing this ques-
tion. We can address the question by using the Brin-
son data and the new data from our pension fund and
mutual fund studies. We calculated the percentage of
fund return explained by policy return for each fund
as the ratio of compound annual policy return, PRi,
divided by the compound annual total return, TRi.
This ratio of compound returns is really simply a
performance measure. A fund that stayed exactly at
its policy mix and invested passively will have a ratio
of 1.0, or 100 percent, whereas a fund that outper-
formed its policy will have a ratio less than 1.0.
Table 6 shows the percentage of fund return
explained by policy return for the Brinson studies
and the two data sets used in this study. On average,
policy accounted for a little more than all of total
return. The one exception is the pension fund sample
in this study, where the mean result was 99 percent.
The pension data did not have any expenses sub-
tracted, however, so if we included external man-
ager fees, pension staff costs, and other expenses, the
re su lt wo uld pr ob ab ly b e cl os e t o 100 per ce nt , m ean-
ing that no value was added above the benchmark.
On average, the pension funds and balanced mutual
funds are not adding value above their policy bench-
marks because of a combination of timing, security
selection, management fees, and expenses. More-
over, results for both groups here may even be better
than expected because the timing component might
include some benefit from not rebalancing (letting
equities run), which would have helped returns in
the sample period’s nearly continuous U.S. equity
bull market.
The range of percen tage of fund return ex plained
by policy return is shown in Table 7. The mutual
funds have a wider range because they are more
willing to make timing and selection bets against the
benchmark.
These results were anticipated by Sharpe
(1991). He pointed out that because the aggregation
of all investors is the market, the average perfor-
mance before costs of all investors must equal the
performance of the market. Because costs do not net
out across investors, the average investor must be
underperforming the market on a cost-adjusted
basis. The implication is that, on average, more than
100 percent of the level of fund return would be
expected from policy return. Of course, this out-
come is not assured for subsamples of the market,
such as balanced mutual funds or pension funds.
In our analysis, a fund’s policy return mea-
sures the performance of the asset classes in which
that fund invests. Therefore, based on Sharpe’s
thesis, we would predict that, on average, a little
more than 100 percent of the level of total return
would be the result of policy return.6 Our results
confirm this prediction.
This is not to say that active management is
useless. An investor who has the ability to select
superior managers before committing funds can
earn above-average returns. If, as Goetzmann and
Ibbotson (1994) suggested, superior performance
and inferior performance persist over time, one
need only invest in the funds that have outper-
formed in the past. Nevertheless, the average
return across all funds in the market cannot be
greater than the return on the market.
Conclusion
We sought to answer the question: What part of
fund performance is explained by asset allocation
policy? If we think of this issue as a multiple-choice
question with “40 percent,” “90 percent,” “100 per-
cent,” and “all of the above” as the choices, our
analysis shows that asset allocation explains about
90 percent of the variability of a fund’s returns over
time but it explains only about 40 percent of the
variation of returns among funds. Furthermore, on
average across funds, asset allocation policy
explains a little more than 100 percent of the level of
returns. So, because the question can be interpreted
in any or all of these ways, the answer is “all of the
above.”
Table 6. Percentage of Total Return Level
Explained by Policy Return
Study Average Median
Brinson 1986 112% NA
Brinson 1991 101 NA
Mutual funds 104 100%
Pension funds 99 99
NA = not available.
Table 7. Range of Percentage of Total Return
Level Explained by Policy Return
Percentile Mutual Funds Pension Funds
5 (best) 82% 86%
25 94 96
50 100 99
75 112 102
95 (worst) 132 113
This article grew out of discussions with Ron Surz. We
thank Dale Stevens for providing the pension fund data
and Mark Wimer of Ibbotson Associates for his able
assistance.
Does Asset Allocation Policy Explain 40, 90, or 100 Percent of Performance?
January/February 2000 33
Notes
1. Brinson, Hood, and Beebower (1986); Brinson, Singer, and
Beebower (1991).
2. The essence of Jahnke’s (1997) critique of the Brinson et al.
studies is that they used time-series R2s to address the
question of cross-sectional variability. This critique is unfair
because the Brinson studies never addressed the cross-
sectional question.
3. Return-based style analysis was first proposed by Sharpe
(1992). See Lucas (1998) for a detailed discussion.
4. The results are reported in Stevens, Surz, and Wimer,
together with the mutual fund results reported here.
5. The average allocations among the general asset classes
used in the pension fund study were 43.7 percent U.S.
stocks, 38.0 percent U.S. bonds, 5.0 percent cash, and 13.3
percent other asset classes.
6. We have taken out the cost of indexing from the policy
return, so the average underperformance of the fund is less
than what Sharpe’s analysis would suggest.
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vol. 18, no. 2 (Winter):7–19.
Stevens, Dale H., Ronald J. Surz, and Mark E. Wimer. 1999. “The
Importance of Investment Policy.” Journal of Investing, vol. 8,
no. 4 (Winter):80–85.
... Since then greater contributions are made in Modern Portfolio Theory by many researchers like the introduction of CAPM by Sharpe (1964) to describe the association of risk and return. Contributing further, Brinson et al. (1986) and Ibbotson and Kaplan (2000) studied the impact of asset allocation decisions on investment returns and found significant impact of asset allocation policy on individual investors' level of return. But all these merits of Modern Portfolio Theory were criticized severely after 2008 financial crisis, as higher correlations were indicated between asset classes amid market turmoil, hence undermining diversification benefits when they were highly required by investors (Theron et al., 2018). ...
... For decades, investment researchers have attempted to ascertain the relative determinants of performance coming from asset allocation policy, active asset allocation (often called market timing) and selection of specific investments/securities within the asset classes (Brinson et al. 1986;Brinson et al. 1991;Ibbotson and Kaplan 2000;Kritzman and Page 2003). This study, in contrast, examines only on the asset allocation component, and, particularly, the degree to which the portfolio is broadly diversified across a variety of asset classes. ...
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In order to delineate investment responsibility and measure performance contribution, pension plan sponsors and investment managers need a clear and relevant method of attributing returns to those activities that compose the investment management process—investment policy, market timing, and security selection. The authors provide a simple framework based on a passive, benchmark portfolio representing the plan's long-term asset classes, weighted by their long-term allocations. Returns on this "investment policy" portfolio are compared with the actual returns resulting from the combination of investment policy plus market timing (over- or underweighting within an asset class). Data from 91 large U.S. pension plans over the 1974-83 period indicate that investment policy dominates investment strategy (market timing and security selection), explaining on average 95.6 percent of the variation in total plan return. The actual mean average total return on the portfolio over the period was 9.01 percent, versus 10...
Analyzing Manager Style” In Pension Investment HandbookThe Arithmetic of Active ManagementAsset Allocation: Management Style and Performance MeasurementThe Importance of Investment Policy
  • Lori Lucas
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Lucas, Lori. 1998. “Analyzing Manager Style.” In Pension Investment Handbook, 1998 Supplement. Edited by Mark W. Riepe and Scott L. Lummer. New York: Panel Publishers. Sharpe, William F. 1991. “The Arithmetic of Active Management.” Financial Analysts Journal, vol. 47, no. 1 (January/ February):7–9. ———. 1992. “Asset Allocation: Management Style and Performance Measurement.” Journal of Portfolio Management, vol. 18, no. 2 (Winter):7–19. Stevens, Dale H., Ronald J. Surz, and Mark E. Wimer. 1999. “The Importance of Investment Policy.” Journal of Investing, vol. 8, no. 4 (Winter):80–85.
Stocks, Bonds, Bills, and Inflation1998 Yearbook
  • Ibbotson Associates
Ibbotson Associates. 1998. Stocks, Bonds, Bills, and Inflation, 1998 Yearbook. Chicago, IL: Ibbotson Associates