Recently I have been working on applying machine learning for volatility forecasting and trading. I presented some of my findings at QuantMinds Conference 2018 which I wanted to share in this post.
If you fancy James Bond movies, you probably know that The World Is Not Enough was the first Bond movie filmed by EON (Everything or Nothing) Productions instead of its original producer United Artist. For the first time, the Bond girl, a nuclear physicist played by Denise Richards, was projected to be “both brainy and athletic” making it an interesting breakthrough. I find a parallel between how the investment community balances between the Active vs Passive when talking about investment approaches. Depending on investors’ perceptions, the passive approach could be wrapped as “athletic” while the active approach as “brainy”. Yet can we make the investment process to be both athletic and brainy?
The understanding of what are Active and Passive approaches is all important for investors, allocators, and investment managers to define best methods for strategy execution and portfolio construction as well as appealing ways to marketing and investor relationships.
During the recent QuantMinds 2018 conference, I moderated the panel discussion on the topic of Active vs Passive investing. The outstanding participants of the panel covered different angles of the investment community:
We had an enthusiastic discussion, and everyone shared his insight into topic and raised interesting thoughts. I realized there is a lot to learn from our discussion and decided to write a small summary.
Because of the adaptive nature of position sizing, trend-following strategies can generate the positive skewness of their returns, when infrequent large gains compensate overall for frequent small losses. Further, trend-followers can produce the positive convexity of their returns with respect to stock market indices, when large gains are realized during either very bearish or very bullish markets. The positive convexity along with the overall positive performance make trend-following strategies viable diversifiers and alpha generators for both long-only portfolios and alternatives investments.
I provide a practical analysis of how the skewness and convexity profiles of trend-followers depend on the trend smoothing parameter differentiating between slow-paced and fast-paced trend-followers. I show how the returns measurement frequency affects the realized convexity of the trend-followers. Finally, I discuss an interesting connection between trend-following and stock momentum strategies and illustrate the benefits of allocation to trend-followers within alternatives portfolio.
Interested readers can download the pdf of my paper Trend following strategies for tail-risk hedging and alpha generation or access the paper through SSRN web
The skewness and the convexity of strategy returns with respect to the benchmark are the key metrics to assess the risk-profile of quant strategies. Strategies with the significant positive skewness and convexity are expected to generate large gains during market stress periods and, as a result, convex strategies can serve as robust diversifiers. Using benchmark Eurekahedge indices on major hedge fund strategies, I show the following.
What is the most significant contributing factor to the performance of a quantitative fund: its signal generators or its risk allocators? Can we still succeed if we have good signal generators but poor risk management? How should we allocate to a portfolio of quantitative strategies?
I have developed a top-down and bottom-up model for portfolio allocation and risk-management of quantitative strategies. The interested readers can find the slides of my presentation here and can watch the webinar can be viewed on youtube.
I present a few systematic strategies for investing into volatility risk-premia and illustrate their back-tested performance. I apply the four factor Fama-French-Carhart model to attribute monthly returns on volatility strategies to returns on the style factors. I show that all strategies have insignificant exposure to the style factors, while the exposure to the market factor becomes insignificant when strategies are equipped with statistical filtering and delta-hedging. I show that, by allocating 10% of portfolio funds to these strategies within equity and fixed-income benchmarked portfolios, investors can boost the alpha by 1% and increase the Sharpe ratio by 10%-20%.
The key issues for allocators and investors are the very low and mostly negative interest rates for core government bonds, toppish valuations in stock markets, permanent level of high risk-aversion by individual investors. How do we go from here?
Well, these are the questions that I am trying to solve in my current role for our client and for myself. In this respect, I was very pleased to be interviewed by Barbara Mack from Institutional Investor Journals to discuss my experience and my thoughts about the quantitative approaches to wealth management.
What I wanted to emphasize is the growing importance of quantitative tools and, in particular, robo-advisors, in the wealth management space.