Our Markets Summit program kicks off with a video retrospective of the key events of the prior year...

Our diverse panel of experts debates which of the high-conviction propositions they heard during Markets Summit 2021 resonated most strongly, and which they disagreed with most - and the portfolio construction implications.

The energy transition has the potential to be as transformative for the world economy and geopolitical landscape as the digital revolution has been since the 1980s. Shifting from energy derived from fossil fuels to renewables opens up tremendous direct and indirect growth opportunities for investors. There will be increased focus on green bonds and low carbon equities. However, the implications of the energy transition go beyond that. There will be new growth opportunities as many parts of the world economy have the potential to shift from being fossil fuel poor to renewables rich. Standing on the verge of a new decade of transition, it’s time for investors to go back to the drawing board and embrace sustainability, not just in stock selection, risk management or asset allocation, but in every facet of their thinking.

Supply chain decision makers must continue to focus on mitigating risk in 2021, not maximising growth. Logistics disruptions, competition for components and viral mutations overshadow the first half. Further ahead, political risks outbalance opportunities as China flexes its power in Asia, the Biden administration applies what still amounts to an America-first approach, carbon- and digital-taxes abound and new trade deals lead to stronger competition across manufacturing industries.

March 2020 saw extreme intra-month volatility across all markets. Daily liquid funds exacerbated this volatility and failed to provide the liquidity promised to investors. In the subsequent recovery, these same funds are singularly focussed on truly daily liquid investments at the expense of returns. Rather than accepting lower returns for liquidity, investors should go back to the drawing board and re-assess their need for daily liquidity. In this low yield environment, there is a role for non-daily liquid strategies which allow investors to buy when liquid funds are selling, to invest outside of the shrinking universe of highly liquid investments and, ultimately, achieve consistent excess returns.

After a decade of falling inflation and interest rates, investors must now go back to the drawing board as we look to a very different world in prospect. The aftermath of the GFC saw a series of discrete factors which crippled growth: fiscal austerity; EU intransigence; Chinese tightening and reform…then a global trade war and a global pandemic! The world has changed. Yet investors appear anchored to a narrative about growth and inflation that will prove supremely unhelpful as the global economy reopens amid vaccine distribution, sees the effective cessation of the “US-versus everyone” trade war and widespread, colossal, redistributive fiscal policy. Those who cling to yesterday’s narrative may forego one of the great trades of recent decades as the world shifts to a “global reopening” narrative and away from that of “secular stagnation”.

As investors go ‘back to the drawing board’ amidst a changeable market outlook for 2021, private equity is an asset class to access now due to its bias for long duration assets with attractive growth profiles. As structural tailwinds for technology continue to accelerate, there is a dearth of listed options for Australian investors to hold; in contrast, private equity offers exposure to businesses with quality recurring revenues at discounts to listed peers. Often underrepresented in investor portfolios due to concerns around liquidity, private equity investing with a truly hands-on approach allows active investors to maximise their capital growth potential.

Fiscal stimulus and the vaccine have fuelled an extraordinary rally in equities but ultimately stocks are at record highs because of extraordinarily low market interest rates. This means that for investors, the decision between cash and equities or between sectors hinges on the rates outlook. Even though there are forces keeping rates low, it would be complacent to assume away the risks of higher rates because the inflation outlook is more uncertain than usual at the moment. It would be back to the drawing board for investors if inflation pressures structurally rise, because the Federal Reserve put will be kaput and portfolios would need a radical overhaul. Investors should be wary of inflation – but also of being underweight equities.

The resource sector is structured around cycle, earnings, capex and returns, but long- and short-term sentiment could be the real drivers. Commodity prices, capex and returns are not yet at peak cycle. De-carbonisation, company management and ESG scrutiny are all emerging themes, diminishing the favoured influence of commodity prices on sector alpha generation. Is this an evolution of value drivers for the resource sector, or are investors just a little late to the drawing board? If long term sentiment begins to turn, then there is significantly more value to be found in the resources sector.

With the official cash rate near zero, generating income from traditional fixed income investments is challenging. The low-rate environment and prolonged equity bull run pre-Covid drove many investors to overweight growth assets. However, the market volatility of 2020 highlighted the risks of this approach. It’s time to head back to the drawing board to find a more consistent source of income. Private Debt is a lesser-known sub sector of the fixed income market that has delivered attractive yields with high capital stability through market cycles. Debt ranks ahead of equity in a company’s capital structure, resulting in much-needed downside protection. With less volatility than equities, and low correlation to public markets, private debt provides a compelling alternative source of income in a portfolio.

Investors should reevaluate the role of bonds in a traditional 60/40 balanced portfolio. With today’s very low yields likely to persist, the 60/40 balanced portfolio needs to be “stretched” or redesigned, in order to mitigate the impact of low yields on overall portfolio risk and return. Investors need to make their equity allocation work harder through active management and consider new diversifiers such as long duration bonds or alternatives.

Pockets of froth in markets drive the narrative of an equity market top. However, the equity market in aggregate is not as concerning. Equities are underpinned by unprecedented fiscal and monetary policy – aimed at righting previous wrongs - coupled with economic re-opening. Earnings growth should result, amid abundant market liquidity, in a zero rate world. Markets remain supported – but divergence could increase within. Covid-accelerated trends include digitalisation, geopolitical tension and the impact of ESG on the cost of capital. These trends are structural and investors waiting for reversion to mean should beware. Going back to the drawing board, portfolio construction along with industry understanding remain the bedrock of investment success.

The consensus view that US equities are in a bubble are overblown due to several dynamics: index composition; low interest rates; robust forward earnings expectations; and, economic cycle positioning. The biggest obstacle with current market expectations is a double-dip recession which remains a remote possibility based on the positive output of 12 economic indicators that have historically foreshadowed an economic downturn. In fact, economic growth in the US this year is posed to be the best in almost four decades as US consumers and corporations have fortified their balance sheets in the wake of recent lockdowns. Policymakers are suffering from recency bias by mistakenly treating this recovery like the Global Financial Crisis. However, the backdrops between the two could not be more different which sets up a scenario where US equites will continue their ascent higher in the coming year. Go back to the drawing board when it comes to your views on US valuations - because this time IS different.

Pent up consumer demand, fiscal stimulus and accommodative monetary policy set the stage for a sharp global recovery. The Biden Administration’s planned COVID relief, infrastructure investment and ambitious climate policies could turbo charge growth. This will bring opportunities for many companies, yet rising discount rates and steepening yield curves pose challenges to investors. Stocks driven by speculative earnings may give way to companies delivering high returns on capital today, while fixed income investors will need to seek alternatives to long duration assets. Following a long period of secular stagnation, it is back to the drawing board in a high growth environment.

Established in 2009, Portfolio Construction Forum Markets Summit is THE investment markets scene setter of the year. The geopolitical, macroeconomic and corporate outlook remains unclear, yet stock markets continue to climb this wall of worry. It is time to pause, reflect and go back to the drawing board! Markets Summit will help you better understand the key drivers of and outlook for the markets (geopolitical, economic and asset class), and the opportunities and risks ahead, on a three- to five-year view, to aid your search for return and to help you build better quality investor portfolios.

The Covid-19 pandemic has accelerated profound shifts in how economies and societies operate and is transforming macroeconomic policy, geopolitics and sustainability. The traditional business cycle playbook does not apply to the pandemic and as this new investment order evolves, investors are returning to the drawing board to identify the key drivers of change. Portfolios must now reflect the new role of developed market bonds given falls in real yields, the realities of an increasingly bipolar US-China world order and the growing investor appetite for sustainable assets.

Investors cannot afford to be “lazy” and leave investable capital sitting idle. Expanding the investable universe can help meet the need for positive real returns while maintaining an appropriate level of insurance in portfolios. Going back to the drawing board, it is time to look closely at the illiquidity premium – the one risk premium that offers strong value over the cyclical horizon. A combination of interest rate, credit and illiquidity risks provide diversified fixed income exposures with attractive return potential.

After being considered a cottage industry for nearly four decades and now increasingly demanded by investors across developed markets, Responsible Investing (RI) and the application of Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) factors into the investment process remain misunderstood – and, too often, mischaracterised as style over financial “substance”. Secular, societal and increasingly standardised drivers behind the systemic adoption of RI across all asset classes – along with the ascendancy of shareholder alignment as a growing movement – is clearly evidenced through three issues: 1. the democratisation and development of data in financial markets; 2. ESG integration has been demonstrated to have a positive impact on portfolios; and, 3. the push for passive which misses the point that beyond lack of sovereignty, there is a collective responsibility to align portfolios with client values. It’s time to go back to the drawing board (for many) and construct portfolios with investment strategies designed to advance humankind towards a global sustainable economy, a just society, and a better world.

Structural factors are in place which will ensure that the cash rate cannot rise over the medium term. This will result in negligible cash returns over the foreseeable future, with only mild defensive properties. What is the best alternative in the defensive bucket? Going back to the drawing board, a core fixed income exposure consisting of Australian government bonds will outperform cash over the long term.

During 2020, G-REITs experienced a once in a generation demand shock as many parts of the global economy were effectively shut down or endured severe restrictions on social mobility. Traditional property sectors such as office, discretionary retail and hotels faced significant challenges. But there were many winners - logistics property, data centres, cell towers, self-storage, and single-family rental actually saw demand and return profiles improve through the pandemic. With the vaccine roll-out progressing, G-REITs offer both cyclical and secular investment opportunities. The diversity within the G-REIT universe coupled with the liquidity of listed markets enables nimble investors to efficiently reallocate capital as risk/return outlooks change. Despite significant challenges during Covid, G-REIT earnings were more resilient than broader equities during the pandemic yet experienced some of their worst relative performance in decades. With new building supply and REIT balance sheets in good shape, G-REITs are well positioned as economies reopen and demand returns. Going back to the drawing board, now is the time for G-REITs.

Believe in sustainable investing or not, investors in today’s markets need to understand the impact it’s having on investment returns and portfolio construction. New opportunities abound and may drive macro economics, while access to early stage opportunities is driving investor demand, and markets are already trading on future outcomes. Going back to the drawing board, those that seize the initiative will thrive as the capital markets stand on the cusp of a transformation to an ESG world.

The days when investors and corporate decision-makers could succeed without much understanding of geopolitics are over. Portfolio construction practitioners must stop relying on news flow for their political analysis, and instead go back to the drawing board and focus systematically on the constraints facing global policymakers, in order to successfully extract the implications for portfolios.

Information technology infrastructure used to be complex, cumbersome and expensive. Today, scale-as-a-service cloud computing platforms allow companies – both large and small – to get their IT infrastructure up and running in minutes. Over the next decade, the growing use of such platforms by innovative start-ups will have profound implications for the global economy. As a result, practitioners need to go back to the drawing board, to revisit their assumptions on which companies will thrive, in a highly disruptive environment.

The US, Australia and their allies have long depended on global “rules of the game” (mostly set by the United States) for their major companies and sectors to flourish. In coming years, Australia and the US will have to accept that China will play an ever greater role shaping these rules. China has already become the 3rd largest shareholder of the IMF, a major player in the WTO and WHO, and competed for (and won) the headships of several UN’s agencies. But this should not alarm Australia, the US, and other allies. Instead, they must go back to the drawing board and focus on building the rules and institutions that they and China need to sustain trade, to ensure international financial stability, and for effective action on climate change.

Global equity markets are celebrating the prospect of a rapid acceleration in economic activity and the remarkable ingenuity of humanity; the light at the end of the tunnel burns brighter by the day. That’s the good news. The bad news is that much stronger economic activity, driven by $22 trillion of monetary and fiscal stimulus, will deliver higher inflation and higher bond yields. It’s back to the drawing board – this herculean tug of war between stronger economic growth and higher bond yields will be the defining battleground of 2021 and will be accompanied by violent and rapid-fire recalibrations of relative valuations.

Established in 2009, Portfolio Construction Forum Markets Summit is THE investment markets scene setter of the year. This page takes you to the Markets Summit 2021 Critical Issues Forum (plenary) livestream.

Established in 2009, Portfolio Construction Forum Markets Summit is THE investment markets scene setter of the year. This page takes you to the Markets Summit 2021 Special Interests Forum (elective) Room 5 livestream.

Established in 2009, Portfolio Construction Forum Markets Summit is THE investment markets scene setter of the year. This page takes you to the Markets Summit 2021 Special Interests Forum (elective) room 3 livestream.

Established in 2009, Portfolio Construction Forum Markets Summit is THE investment markets scene setter of the year. This page takes you to the Markets Summit 2021 Special Interests Forum (elective) room 2 livestream.

Established in 2009, Portfolio Construction Forum Markets Summit is THE investment markets scene setter of the year. This page takes you to the Markets Summit 2021 Special Interests Forum (elective) room 1 livestream.

As a tumultuous 2020 neared its end, the clouds of uncertainty appeared to be parting. Successful vaccine trials raised hopes that the Covid-19 pandemic would soon be over, the US election result promised a more geopolitical- and market-friendly presidency and government, and rebounding investor confidence fuelled a dramatic rotation into value stocks. Yet that confidence is already being tested in 2021 as new Covid variants take hold, doubts emerge about the efficacy of vaccinations, and the Democrats’ Senate win stirs fears of an aggressive spending, taxation, and regulatory agenda that’s not favourable to business. The geopolitical, macroeconomic and corporate outlook remains unclear, yet stock markets continue to climb this wall of worry. It is time to pause, reflect and go back to the drawing board!

Established in 2009, Portfolio Construction Forum Markets Summit is THE investment markets scene setter of the year. This page takes you to the Markets Summit 2021 Critical Issues Forum (plenary) livestream.

Established in 2009, Portfolio Construction Forum Markets Summit is THE investment markets scene setter of the year. This page takes you to the Markets Summit 2021 Special Interests Forum (elective) Room 4 livestream.

The Investment Management Analyst Certificate (IMAC) advances investment management analyst knowledge, skill and expertise in a definitive set of competencies necessary for building and/or advising on quality multi-manager portfolios. It is both a structured post-graduate certificate course in its own right, and the Australian-based Registered Education Program for the global Certified Investment Management Analyst® (CIMA®) program.

Welcome to the farrelly's Dynamic Asset Allocation NZ subscriber-only area...

Welcome to the farrelly's Dynamic Asset Allocation Australian subscriber only area...

This lecture instructs farrelly's subscribers on on the principles of managing currency in portfolios.

This lecture instructs farrelly's subscribers on the foundations of asset allocation in three parts - key principles of asset allocation, optimisation and how to define an asset class.

The first generation of behavioural finance described people as "irrational", fooled into cognitive and emotional errors that diminish wealth. The second generation of behavioural finance describes people as "normal" - we use shortcuts and sometimes commit errors on the way to satisfying our wants.

Meir Statman | 0.50 CE