Invest Intelligently with Smart Beta ETFs
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16 July 2020
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Invest Intelligently with Smart Beta ETFs
Smart beta exchange traded funds (ETF) have gained increasing prominence amongst investors by combining the best of both active and passive strategies. Today, more investors are making use of these sophisticated investment tools as building blocks in their portfolio to reap better risk-adjusted returns. 

After a long wait, Malaysian investors will finally be able to access these products following the listing of 2 Smart Beta ETFs (i.e. TradePlus MSCI Asia ex Japan REITs Tracker and TradePlus DWA Malaysia Momentum Tracker) on the local bourse. 

But what’s so ‘smart’ about smart beta ETFs? Are they really that intelligent?

In this article, we’ll explore what smart beta ETFs are and how do they fit in an investor’s portfolio.

What are smart beta ETFs?

Smart Beta ETFs are a type of ETF that uses a systematic approach towards picking stocks from an index based on certain pre-determined factors. These factors could include different characteristics of a stock like its earnings growth, price momentum or dividend yield. 

It differs from traditional ETFs which typically employ a market-cap approach towards picking stocks from an index. For instance, a stock with a larger market capitalisation would constitute a larger weight in the index.
As such, smart beta ETFs would disregard the stock’s market-cap and only invest in companies that exhibit certain behaviour or metrics.

Types of Factors

  • Value
Refers to the tendency of cheaply priced stocks outperform pricier stocks in the long term

  • Momentum
Refers to the tendency of winning stocks to continue to do well in the near term

  • Quality
Captures companies with durable business models and sustainable competitive advantages

  • High Yield
Gains exposure to companies that appear undervalued and have demonstrated stable and increasing dividends

  • Minimum Volatility
Involves buying stocks based on the estimate of their volatility and correlations with other stocks

Source : MSCI, 2020
What are its advantages?
By doing away with the traditional market-cap approach towards index investing, smart beta ETFs allow investors to discover hidden opportunities in the marketplace and uncover value.
 
Smart beta ETFs apply a series of objective and rule-based strategies to screen each index component companies, which are then ranked and weighted according to these specific factors. These factors could be a range of financial metrics like earnings, price momentum or dividend yield. 

This helps overcome the main disadvantage of plain-vanilla ETFs which are biased towards larger-cap stocks because they constitute a larger weight in an index. 
 
Instead with smart beta, a more objective and systematic approach to investing is employed by considering specific objective factors to decide which companies to invest.

These strategies are known to have beaten the market over the long term as it seeks to exploit market anomalies and mitigate the challenge of traditional market cap-weighted ETFs. 
How do smart beta ETFs fit in a portfolio?
With its cost-effectiveness, smart beta ETFs are ideal building blocks for investors to construct a diversified portfolio by piling on different strategies or styles.

By employing a range of different factors such as price, earnings or yield - smart beta ETFs allow investors to build a strong foundation for their portfolio by providing greater diversification.
This allows investors to complement a range of strategies in their investments to minimise risk and reap higher returns at lower volatility.

For example, you can consider complementing your portfolio needs through an array of smart beta strategies such as dividend factors to provide a measure of stability through consistent dividend pay-outs.
Alternatively if you are feeling more opportunistic, you can employ smart beta ETFs that use momentum factors to capture stocks with the highest price momentum.

Getting Smart with Smart Beta
By capturing the best of both active and passive strategies, it is no wonder that smart beta ETFs have become increasingly popular tools for investors today. 

Coupled with its low-cost attractiveness, smart beta ETFs can be efficient ways to fill gaps in your portfolio especially if you don’t know whether an active or passive approach works best for you.

Leverage the power of smart beta and find out how you can build a resilient portfolio to ride out volatility in the new normal. 
Disclaimer
This article has been prepared by Affin Hwang Asset Management Berhad (hereinafter referred to as “Affin Hwang AM”) specific for its use, a specific target audience, and for discussion purposes only. All information contained within this presentation belongs to Affin Hwang AM and may not be copied, distributed or otherwise disseminated in whole or in part without written consent of Affin Hwang AM.

The information contained in this presentation may include, but is not limited to opinions, analysis, forecasts, projections and expectations (collectively referred to as “Opinions”). Such information has been obtained from various sources including those in the public domain, are merely expressions of belief. Although this presentation has been prepared on the basis of information and/or Opinions that are believed to be correct at the time the presentation was prepared, Affin Hwang AM makes no expressed or implied warranty as to the accuracy and completeness of any such information and/or Opinions.

As with any forms of financial products, the financial product mentioned herein (if any) carries with it various risks. Although attempts have been made to disclose all possible risks involved, the financial product may still be subject to inherent risk that may arise beyond our reasonable contemplation. The financial product may be wholly unsuited for you, if you are adverse to the risk arising out of and/or in connection with the financial product.

Affin Hwang AM is not acting as an advisor or agent to any person to whom this presentation is directed. Such persons must make their own independent assessments of the contents of this presentation, should not treat such content as advice relating to legal, accounting, taxation or investment matters and should consult their own advisers.

Affin Hwang AM and its affiliates may act as a principal and agent in any transaction contemplated by this presentation, or any other transaction connected with any such transaction, and may as a result earn brokerage, commission or other income. Nothing in this presentation is intended to be, or should be construed as an offer to buy or sell, or invitation to subscribe for, any securities.

Neither Affin Hwang AM nor any of its directors, employees or representatives are to have any liability (including liability to any person by reason of negligence or negligent misstatement) from any statement, opinion, information or matter (expressed or implied) arising out of, contained in or derived from or any omission from this presentation, except liability under statute that cannot be excluded.
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TENG CHEE WAI

Managing Director
Teng Chee Wai is the founder of Affin Hwang Asset Management Berhad (Affin Hwang AM). Over the past decade, he has built the Company to be the fastest growing and only independent investment management house in Malaysia’s top three, with an excess of RM47 billion in assets under management as at 31 December 2018.​

​In his capacity as Managing Director / Executive Director, Teng manages the overall business and strategic direction as well as the management of the investment team. His hands-on approach sees him actively involved in investments, product development and marketing. Teng’s critical leadership and regular participation in reviewing and assessing strategies and performance has been pivotal in allowing the Company to successfully navigate the economically turbulent decade.

Teng’s investment management experience spans more than 20 years, and his key area of expertise is in managing absolute return mandates for insurance assets and investment-linked funds in both Singapore and Malaysia. Prior to his current appointments, he was the Assistant General Manager (Investment) of Overseas Assurance Corporation (OAC) and was responsible for the investment function of the Group Overseas Assurance Corporation Ltd.​

​Teng began his career in the financial industry as an Investment Manager with NTUC Income, Singapore. He is a Bachelor of Science graduate from the National University of Singapore and has a Post-Graduate Diploma in Actuarial Studies from City University in London.
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