Consulting to the Ultra Affluent


Consulting to the Ultra Affluent

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By dynamically trading futures in very much the same way as investment banks hedge their OTC option positions it is possible to generate returns that are statistically very similar to the returns generated by hedge funds but without any of the usual drawbacks surrounding alternative investments, i.e. without liquidity, capacity, transparency or style drift problems and without paying over-the-top management fees. Hedge fund returns may be different, but they are certainly not unique.
In this article, the author reviews some of the most important findings in hedge fund research so far. We show that proper hedge fund investing requires a much more elaborate approach to investment decision-making than currently in use by most investors. The available data on hedge funds should be corrected for various types of errors, survivorship bias, and autocorrelation. In addition, tools like mean-variance analysis and the Sharpe ratio are no longer appropriate when hedge funds are involved. Including hedge funds in a traditional investment portfolio can significantly improve that portfolio's mean-variance characteristics, but it can also be expected to lead to significantly lower skewness as well as higher kurtosis. This means that the case for hedge funds is a lot less straightforward than often suggested and requires investors to make a definite trade-off between profit and loss potential.
In this age of inexpensive and abundant data, investors must remain mindful of the limitations of the data they are using for their investment decisions. Despite widespread problems with the quality, timeliness, and relevance of financial and economic data, many investors accept and react to these data at face value. Often, further analysis of the data and an understanding of the factors that drive the data will lead to increased uncertainty - and may change the analyst's conclusions.
In sharp contrast to the recommendations of Modern Portfolio Theory (MPT), a vast majority of investors are not well diversified. This neglect of diversification is seen across all wealth segments, including the affluent. This paper attempts to provide a solution to this "diversification paradox," by expanding the Markowitz Framework of diversifying market risk to also include the concepts of Personal Risk and Aspirational Goals. The Wealth Allocation Framework enables individual investors to construct appropriate portfolios using all their assets, such as their home, mortgage, market investments and human capital. The investor may choose to accept a slightly lower "average rate of return" in exchange for downside protection and upside potential. The resulting portfolios are designed to meet individual investors' needs and preferences, as well as to protect individuals from Personal, Market and Aspirational risk factors. The Wealth Allocation Framework attempts to bring together MPT with aspects of Behavioral Finance through a single pragmatic Framework. A major conclusion of this work is that, for the individual investor, Risk Allocation should precede Asset Allocation.
We analyze the results of the most recent survey of U.S. Chief Financial Officers (CFOs) which looks ahead to the first quarter of 2007 and beyond. We present expectations of the equity risk premium measured over a 10-year horizon relative to a 10-year U.S. Treasury bond. This multi-year survey has been conducted every quarter from June 2000 to November 2006. Each quarter the survey also provides measures of cross-sectional disagreement about the risk premium, skewness, and a measure of individual uncertainty. The individual uncertainty is deduced from the 80% confidence interval that each respondent provides for his or her risk premium assessment. We also present evidence on the determinants of the long-run risk premium. Our analysis suggests there is a positive correlation between the ex ante risk premium and real interest rates as reflected in Treasury Inflation Indexed Notes. The level of the risk premium also appears to track market volatility as reflected in the VIX index.
The goal of this article is an estimate of the objective forward-looking equity risk premium relative to bonds through history - specifically, since 1802. For correct evaluation, such a complex topic requires several careful steps: To gauge the risk premium for stocks relative to bonds, we need an expected real stock return and an expected real bond return. To gauge the expected real bond return, we need both bond yields and an estimate of expected inflation through history. To gauge the expected real stock return, we need both stock dividend yields and an estimate of expected real dividend growth. Accordingly, we go through each of these steps. We demonstrate that the long-term forward-looking risk premium is nowhere near the level of the past; today, it may well be near zero, perhaps even negative.
The size of the equity risk premium-the incremental return that shareholders require to hold risky equities rather than risk-free securities-is a key issue in corporate finance. Financial economists generally measure the equity premium over long periods of time in order to obtain reliable estimates. These estimates are widely used by investors, finance professionals, corporate executives, regulators, lawyers, and consultants. But because the 20th century proved to be a period of such remarkable growth in the U.S. economy, estimates of the risk premium that rely on past market performance may be too high to serve as a reliable guide to the future. 2003 Morgan Stanley.
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