The biggest challenge for investors in an environment such as the one we are experiencing now is that there is a lot of information, the environment is changing rapidly and there are many unknowns. In the past several weeks we have witnessed one of the fastest drops in markets in history, bond market liquidity has dried up, unemployment is rising, robust business models have unraveled with businesses such as Virgin Australia forced into administration and we have seen unprecedented levels of government stimulus. This follows an extended period where equity market returns were strong and volatility was at historically low levels.
Whether you are running an investment committee or speaking to clients in such an environment, going back to basics is warranted. Referring to your investment philosophy and the investment framework that underpins it is fundamental in periods such as this. Importantly, it will assist in avoiding making reactive investment decisions that can have an adverse impact on the long-term outcomes of your portfolios. This is particularly important in the current environment where there is a proliferation of news flow. On a client level, dusting off the investment philosophy and refocusing your client’s attention on your fundamental investment beliefs will help you deal with nervous clients and aid in preventing them from making kneejerk decisions relating to their investments. If we cast our minds back to the GFC, we know that clients that were reactive and cashed out from a typical balanced portfolio locked in a loss of about 8.5% on average, whereas those that remained invested, benefitted from the subsequent rebound in markets.
At the core of Lonsec’s investment philosophy is our belief in a diversified portfolio approach across asset classes and investment strategies with a strong focus on risk management. We aim to do this through a combination of active asset allocation decisions focused on managing risk and active bottom-up investment selection focused on ensuring portfolio are diversified not only by asset class but also investment strategies. As a practical example, in the current environment our focus within asset allocation remains on valuation, cyclical and liquidity factors and market sentiment. This provides us a starting point for assessing the current environment.
From a bottom-up fund selection perspective, we remain focused on understanding the role that every fund plays in the portfolio recognising that during periods of severe market dislocation, our ‘risk control’ funds should provide some dampening against this volatility, whereas our ‘growth’ funds will more than likely suffer the full extent of any market moves.
The strength of having an investment framework will assist navigating through uncertain times as it helps understand performance drivers and ‘where to from here” scenarios. Additionally, it ensures that conversations we have with clients on expectations of portfolio performance are clear and easily understood.
For more information about how Lonsec can help you with your investment philosophy and process, please contact us on 1300 826 395 or firstname.lastname@example.org.