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Sovereign Wealth Fund Plans to Add More Active Investments

This article was originally published on ETFTrends.com.

Active or passive investing? It's a question that continues to circulate within capital markets and for the Abu Dhabi Investment Authority (ADIA), the world’s third-biggest sovereign wealth fund, they are opting for the former.

In particular, the fund plans to add more active fixed income investing to its portfolio as it begins "reducing its reliance on external fund managers and boosting in-house investment capabilities," according to a Reuters article. As it currently stands, about 55 percent of ADIA’s portfolio falls under external management, which is down from 60 percent in 2016, while the rest of the fund is managed internally.

The change follows suit with a 2018 ADIA report that said it would follow through on plans to make its fixed income investments more active. Right now, the fund is 40 percent active and 60 percent passive.

As part of ongoing efforts to facilitate this shift in investing mindsets, the fund plans to add new positions, mostly investment and research-focused roles.

“This provides our investment professionals with the flexibility to allocate funds between different asset types according to where they see opportunities,” the ADIA said.

Smart Beta Fixed Income Funds to Consider

When it comes to fixed income market veterans, some may think that smart beta factors have no place in this space. However, a study performed by asset manager Robeco found that factors like value and momentum are driving higher returns in fixed income portfolios.

Specifically, factors like value, momentum and low risk were applied to selecting government bonds. According to an article in Institutional Investor, all three factors "generated higher risk-adjusted returns than the market."

What's preventing the use of factors from getting more attention in the fixed income arena? All signs point to the lack of data.

“One of the reasons why credit is more difficult for academic researchers and for our peers is they didn’t have access to data,” said Patrick Houweling, lead portfolio manager and researcher of quant credits at Robeco. “Look at academic journals; they have been dominated by research on stocks. But [fixed income] is coming now.”

“The starting point is how people behave in financial markets,” Houweling added. “Even though there is more data in equity markets, it doesn’t mean these patterns only exist in equities. The well-known factors may not use the exact metrics as equities, of course, but they capture the concepts.”

One of the challenging aspects advisors face with this more cautious investor is the plethora of options available, especially in the ETF space. Where are the opportunities in ETFs given the current market landscape challenged by obstacles such as trade war fears?

The Invesco Multi-Factor Defensive Core Fixed Income ETF (CBOE: IMFD) and the Invesco Multi-Factor Income ETF (CBOE: IMFI) are recent additions to the issuer’s lineup of multi-factor bond ETFs. Both new ETFs track in-house indexes.

IMFI follows the Invesco Multi-Factor Income Index. That benchmark “is designed to provide multi-factor exposure to fixed income securities in the following weights: 25% in mortgage-backed securities, 25% higher-quality US investment grade, 25% high yield, and 25% emerging markets debt,” according to Invesco.

Each of the bond market segments represented in the new ETF has its own criteria for assessing quality and value traits, the factors emphasized by the new ETFs. Last year, Invesco also introduced eight multi-factor bond ETFs that focus on favorable value and quality characteristics.

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