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FA Talks: A Practitioner’s Guide to Accessing Next Gen Sectors with AI

TalkingPoints: Exploring Fixed Income in Africa

Understanding the S&P Managed Risk 2.0 Indices

TalkingPoints: S&P Leverage and Inverse Indices

TalkingPoints: Finding Resilience amid Uncertainty: A Low Volatility High Dividend Approach for the A-Share Market

FA Talks: A Practitioner’s Guide to Accessing Next Gen Sectors with AI

FA Talks is an interview series where industry thinkers share their thoughts and perspectives on a variety of market trends and themes impacting indexing.

How are financial advisors with an eye on the future using future-based tools to meet client goals today? 21st century sectors represent the foundation of the Fourth Industrial Revolution. The S&P Kensho New Economy Indices are designed to track emerging technologies that are reshaping traditional industries and driving this seismic shift. Lisa and Mark Bova of Lenity Financial see Financial Services as one of the industries at the forefront of these changes.

S&P DJI: How do you manage portfolios today at Lenity Financial?

Lisa: We utilize goals-based investing and use a tactical approach. One of the first questions we ask is about a client’s past experience with money, which includes long-term insights—meaning what they did or didn’t learn from their family. Based on their history, comfort level with risk, and their near-term needs and long-term goals, we work with our clients to determine their “risk budget,” which essentially defines how hard or not their money needs to work for them in order for them to reach their goals. Overall, we manage tactically. We can be overweight, underweight, or neutral on an asset class, segment of the market, or even risk. It all depends on the goals and risk budget of the individual client.

S&P DJI: Why was it important to you to find a passive solution using Artificial Intelligence to help meet clients’ needs?

Mark: In today’s markets, there is so much data and the market moves so quickly that we needed a way to effectively and efficiently process the constant stream of information. We were looking for a way to employ AI in our process and we found the S&P Kensho New Economy Indices. Kensho has a meaning—it is an initial insight or awakening. In what is believed by many to be the beginning of the Fourth Industrial Revolution, having the S&P Kensho New Economies in our toolkit made sense. We’re futurists and we see financial professionals working with machines as the way forward. Data is a critical component to AI. There has been so much data collected in the past several years, and S&P DJI has been one of the most pervasive providers of data for decades. Think of it, Henry Varnum Poor published An Investor’s Guide to the U.S. Railroad Industry in 1860. So, the ability to access the powerful combination of data and cutting-edge AI through the S&P Kensho New Economy Indices was a perfect fit for us.

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TalkingPoints: Exploring Fixed Income in Africa

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Zack Bezuidenhoudt

Director, Client Coverage Israel, Benelux, Nordics, and U.K.

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Kevin Horan

Director, Fixed Income Indices

S&P Dow Jones Indices (S&P DJI) made a commitment in 2014 to expand its fixed income coverage to Africa. The index development process started with a series of sovereign bond indices designed to represent and measure performance within the region. The S&P Africa Sovereign Bond Index seeks to track the performance of local currency-denominated sovereign bonds from 13 countries within Africa. The index series also includes a benchmark of  hard currency bonds issued in U.S. dollars, euros, and Japanese  yen, as represented by the S&P Africa Hard Currency Sovereign  Bond Index.

As a subindex of the S&P Africa Sovereign Bond Index, the S&P South Africa Sovereign Bond Index is designed to track the performance of ZAR-denominated sovereign debt publicly issued by the South African government.

S&P DJI also developed the S&P South Africa Sovereign Inflation-Linked Bond Index, which is a subindex of the S&P Global Emerging Sovereign Inflation-Linked Bond Index.

    What details are available for these indices?

S&P DJI builds indices with transparency in mind. These indices aim to make opaque fixed income information more transparent by providing bond-level information in addition to the index-level performance measurements. Our reports are informative, insightful, and organized in order to provide efficiency, in addition to being a tool for investment performance measurement.

The S&P South Africa Sovereign Bond Index

The S&P South Africa Sovereign Bond Index seeks to track the performance of South African rand-denominated sovereign debt publicly issued by the government of South Africa in its domestic market.

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Understanding the S&P Managed Risk 2.0 Indices

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Tianyin Cheng

Senior Director, Strategy Indices

SUMMARY

S&P Dow Jones Indices, in collaboration with Milliman, introduced the S&P Managed Risk 2.0 Indices, which seek to provide core equity strategies with an embedded risk management feature.  The key features of this strategy are the following.

  1. The cost of the protection embedded in the strategy is stable and is financed through a reserve asset, the S&P U.S. Treasury Bond Current 5-Year Index. During times when equity markets are under stress, the correlation effects between equities and the reserve asset class have historically provided a counterbalance through positive returns.  This is in contrast to strategies that use cash, which do not provide that benefit.
  2. Since protection is available, the strategy may provide the ability to participate more in the upside while keeping the overall risk at a low level. This shows up in the higher upside capture and similar or better downside capture than other risk management strategies.

Before diving into the details of the construction and performance of the strategy, it is helpful to consider why this strategy has been developed and the potential benefits it can provide.

FROM RISK CONTROL TO MANAGED RISK

Many readers may be familiar with risk control strategies.[1]  These strategies, which can use a single asset or multiple assets, dynamically adjust the exposure of a risky asset to target a predefined volatility level.  They became popular as a solution to reduce risk while retaining much of the gains to be had from “risky” assets like equities.

However, risk control strategies have some major limitations.They transform the distribution of investment outcomes in a linear and symmetric way, meaning that downside could be significant, although reduced, during severe and sustained market declines. 

Therefore, a number of managed risk strategies[2] have been created recently to improve the traditional risk control framework.  These strategies add an additional layer of risk management using a synthetic put hedge, seeking to stabilize volatility around a target level and, on top that, defend against losses during sustained market declines.

Note that this protection comes with a cost.  Although options on broad market indices are usually expensive, put option replication in the presence of volatility management tends to have lower and more stable performance costs. Therefore, these strategies enable more upside participation compared with the traditional risk control strategies. 

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TalkingPoints: S&P Leverage and Inverse Indices

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Tianyin Cheng

Senior Director, Strategy Indices

  1. What are leverage and inverse indices and why are they important?

The S&P Leverage and Inverse Indices aim to replicate the daily performance of their underlying indices with a constant multiplicative factor, positive or negative, with or without embedded borrowing and lending costs. They offer market participants short-term trading tools for hedging and leveraging purposes. They also provide benchmarks for leverage and inverse products, such as leverage and inverse mutual funds, exchange-traded funds, exchange-traded notes, etc.

  1. What are the underlying securities of leverage and inverse indices?

The S&P Leverage and Inverse Indices can measure equities and futures indices. Examples of possible underlying equity indices would include the S&P 500® and the Dow Jones Industrial Average®.

The underlying futures indices could include equity futures indices, currency futures indices, commodity futures indices, and VIX® futures indices, such as  the Dow Jones Industrial Average Futures Index, S&P U.S. Dollar Futures IndexS&P GSCI Crude Oil, and S&P 500 VIX Short-Term Futures Index.

  1. What return types are there for leverage and inverse indices?

For equity-based leverage and inverse indices, the index return types follow the underlying indices and can be measured in price return, total return, or net total return.

For futures-based leverage and inverse indices, both excess return indices and total return indices are calculated. The difference in excess return and total return is explained in question 4.

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TalkingPoints: Finding Resilience amid Uncertainty: A Low Volatility High Dividend Approach for the A-Share Market

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Izzy Wang

Analyst, Strategy Indices

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Tianyin Cheng

Senior Director, Strategy Indices

The S&P China A-Share LargeCap Low Volatility High Dividend 50 Index is designed to offer liquid and tradable exposure to dividends  and low volatility, two well-known risk factors that have delivered risk premium in the China A-share market in the past.

The two factors are combined through sequential dividend and low  volatility screens. Companies exhibiting high dividend yield may fall in a “dividend trap,” since high dividend yield can be caused by decreasing stock prices rather than increasing dividend payments. Overlaying a low volatility screen on a high dividend portfolio may help to eliminate the dividend trap, resulting in improved absolute and risk-adjusted returns.[1]

Over the 10-year back-tested period, the index has shown robust return, lower risk, reduced drawdown, and cheaper valuation than its benchmark. The index may be appealing to those who wish to maintain equity exposure but limit risk or those who are interested  in increasing equity exposure without increasing risk.

Uncertainty has been a common theme throughout 2019 and rolling into 2020, with escalated risk of Covid-19. The S&P China A-Share LargeCap Low Volatility High Dividend 50 Index may help to provide an alternative for investors to ride through this challenging period.

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