Perspective : When old rules break down, consider a new investing approach

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For the past few years, we have been living in strange economic times. Case in point: It’s widely held that stock prices and bond prices are not correlated, meaning bonds can serve as the cornerstone of a hedge when stock prices waver and drop.

In the past year, though, we have seen stock and bond prices move in a correlated manner. When both are rising, no one complains – but now that markets are seesawing, many investors are seeing, in alarm, that tandem rises are paired with tandem falls. If both asset classes move in the same direction, what kind of risk management can bonds offer?

Thinking Outside of the Style Box and Getting Granular

The stock-to-bond relationship became hard-wired in people’s brains because we’ve had decades in which they moved in opposite directions. But I propose this isn’t an ironclad rule. If you look back over 60 years, you will see that stocks and bonds have been correlated more often than not, and there is not yet any reason to believe they won’t remain so most of the time.[1]

Yet, many asset managers still simply fill “style boxes” in a pre-set allocation with the right asset type, and voila – you have a Growth strategy, or a Conservative strategy.

Again, however, the data shows that some other force is at play. If you compare the return on the best and worst U.S. large-cap funds over the past 12 months as of June 30, 2022, the difference in the returns is in the neighborhood of 50%.[2] These are in the same asset class, so what accounts for the difference? It’s the equities that are chosen.

Putting In the Work to Be Selective

I propose that there is a better way to manage risk and seek out the best possible returns. It hinges on – get this – finding the best security selectors in the business and understanding what is and is not correlated at a given time.

At my firm Frontier Asset Management, we have filtered the many thousands of available funds out there to some hundreds that we believe have brilliant managers. And we have a proprietary process to model different combinations of these select funds to create investment strategies that we believe will perform well compared to the market overall while providing a specific level of risk.

Offering Advisors and Investors an Independent Option

This approach takes hard work, close scrutiny, and is an ongoing process with frequent tweaks and adjustments to stay on track.

This may not be the right fit for everyone, but it’s worth thinking of it as another form of diversification: Working with a firm like Frontier offers the possibility of breaking away and forging a different path no matter what the market may bring next.

[1] Source: Frontier Asset Management. Stocks are represented by the Ibbotson® SBBI® US Large-Cap Stocks (Total Return) and Bonds are represented by Ibbotson® SBBI® US Long-term (20-Year) Government Bonds (Total Return).

[2] Source: Morningstar, Frontier Asset Management.

The views expressed represent the opinion of Frontier Asset Management. The views are subject to change and are not intended as a forecast or guarantee of future results. This material is for informational purposes only. It does not constitute investment advice and is not intended as an endorsement of any specific investment. Stated information is derived from proprietary and nonproprietary sources that have not been independently verified for accuracy or completeness. While Frontier Asset Management believes the information to be accurate and reliable, we do not claim or have responsibility for its completeness, accuracy, or reliability. The use of such sources does not constitute an endorsement. Frontier does not have an affiliation with any author, company or security noted within. Statements of future expectations, estimates, projections, and other forward-looking statements are based on available information and the Frontier Asset Management’s view as of the time of these statements. Accordingly, such statements are inherently speculative as they are based on assumptions that may involve known and unknown risks and uncertainties. Actual results, performance or events may differ materially from those expressed or implied in such statements. Investing in securities involves risks, including the potential loss of principal. Past performance is not indicative of future results.

Frontier Asset Management is a Registered Investment Adviser. The firm’s ADV Brochure and Form CRS are available at no charge by request at info@frontierasset.com or 307.673.5675 and are available on our website www.frontierasset.com. They include important disclosures and should be read carefully.

 

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