Tag Archives: volatility

How to understand the figures of my portfolio to obtain better results? (I)

It sounds very nice when you think that you have your own investment portfolio. It is an important step to improve your finances and get your goals. The question is that a portfolio has its own life since its inception and your responsibility as investor is guiding the portfolio to your interests. What are the signals that you have to follow?

Well, there are many figures and parameters to measure the quality of your portfolio, but we will select the main ones in order to get the most important data:

  • The performance evolution: the figure alone is not enough, because it has to be put in comparison to others. We recommend comparing it with the smart benchmark. This comparison provides the view to understand if we have chosen the right assets or not. For instance, this example shows that we are far from the benchmark and there is a wide improvement to manage.

portfolio performance in T-Advisor

  • The weight of the assets in your portfolio: it is also relevant to understand the allocation. If we have a concentration in a country or a sector, there is a high risk to suffer from instability, if the trend changes. Diversification reduces risks, but we can have some assets with lower returns. A good analysis can help us look for similar assets with better figures in order to rebalance the portfolio.

weight of assets in a portfolio

  • The relationship between performance and volatility: first of all, volatility does not mean necessarily more risky, as we have already commented. However, we can understand the connection between performance and volatility through the Sharpe ratio. This figure shows how profitable an investment is related to the historical volatility. The higher the ratio is, the better the investment is… but this idea is not totally right if we do not compare two assets. You can find two assets with similar ratios but with different figures. We have to look into the numbers to understand if it has a high performance with a high volatility.

Portfolio sharpe ratio

There are some other figures that we will soon comment.

What does portfolio optimisation mean?

Think about your portfolio. It does not perform as you would like and you do not know how to implement changes to improve the returns. Should you read all kind of reports? Of all possible assets? That’s nonsense. There should be a method to optimise and change efficiently your portfolio. There is actually and method: portfolio optimisation.

When we talk about it, it means the process of choosing the weights of different assets for your portfolio in order to obtain the best possible returns compared with similar portfolio compositions or risk profiles. The main measures taken into account are the expected returns and the expected volatility. Optimisation systems include limits of accepted volatility and weight per assets.

The system is linked to the Markowitz Efficient Frontier model that pretends to guide your investments maximizing your performances and reducing the risk. The main point that supports this model is choosing low-correlated or uncorrelated assets. Smart diversification is the idea behind it. An efficient portfolio means a well-diversified one.

Portfolio optimisation efficient frontier

Optimisation systems are professional tools to improve the portfolio results, but it has been implemented in T-Advisor for individuals. It is not easy, because you have to play with the following indicators:

  • Asset correlation
  • Maximum volatility
  • Expected return
  • Maximum weight per asset

The smart combination of the four indicators provides the success of the investment. They can change depending on your risk profile, but accepting a higher risk does not mean being suicidal.

Portfolio optimisation result charts

There is also another very important point: the costs. If you optimise your portfolio and follow the results of the optimiser tool, you have to rebalance your portfolio. A rebalance means trades to buy and sell in order to compose the portfolio following the optimisation indications and… it has costs. However, we have to remind that investments are for long-term and rebalances should be executed every certain time. In these cases, costs can be balanced out with the improvement of the returns. If you are a day trader, then forget this, because you are other kind of investor.

Risk and volatility: they are not really the same

risk and volatility in T-Advisor screener

We often read comments about the high volatility of any asset, as it would be a sign of a high risk. That is not necessary true, because you can find different assets with similar volatility and different returns: some positive and some negative.

Volatility reports about the variation of an asset price in a certain period or the deviation of its returns from the average. A high volatility suggests strong ups and downs in the asset price. That means for current investors that it is more risky, as they can lose money more quickly… but they can obtain also higher returns.

The question is that volatility is not a measure of risk taken as an only figure. It has to be linked with other measures. For instance, you have to watch the liquidity, because an illiquid asset is more risky, as it is more difficult to sell and obtain your money back.

Volatility also reports about the past, because it is the mirror where you find the information about what happened with the prices till today. You cannot obtain other information about risk. For instance, it does not report about the counterparty risk, let’s say, you invest in bonds and the issuer has no money to pay your coupon. To obtain those data, you have to look at other parameters.

The list of risk is long, but you cannot perceive them through the volatility. It is very important for investors to understand the difference, as many get good returns trading with the volatility of the asset. As we commented above, it can be an opportunity.

A relevant measure for the risk is the Value at Risk, also known for their initials VaR, but you have to watch also the diversification (in the case of a fund or your own portfolio), the correlation with other assets or the liquidity. To sum up, if you consider the volatility as the only way to control the asset risk, you will make a mistake. The risk analysis is a combination of several figures that have to be linked to obtain a global perception.

Markets, you are getting very messy

Markets are living unusual situations since the beginning of the Great Crisis in 2007-2008. We are now living the 8th anniversary of the bankruptcy of Lehman Brothers. Since that moment, markets have been intervened by central banks (in fact) and their operations are not really free.

One of the chapters that we have recently lived is a “black swan”: Brexit in Europe has shaken the markets with a crash at the end of June and a continuous bullish trend in July. On the other hand, low volatility dominated the trading in August. For instance, volatility hit a 2-year-low in this month in Wall Street. Now, in September, investors tend to be negative and bears have taken their positions. In other words, markets are getting messy.

Evolution of developed markets YTD

What can we expect in the last quarter of this year? BlackRock head Russ Koesterich bets that the US election will hardly move the markets, either Clinton or Trump win. He proposes that market volatility can come from near elections in Europe, where populist parties are winning support amongst electors in several countries, even the most powerful as France or Germany.

Some investors are watching carefully the evolution in emerging markets. They are currently performing fine, mostly in Latam. Moody’s has recently raised the outlook for Brazil, Russia and China. If we look at the chart, we also find that Argentina is performing quite well after the change in the Presidential Seal.

Evolution of emerging markets YTD

But the deep discussion in the market operators is not about the influence of the politics, but the current bubble and overvaluation linked with what we mentioned at the beginning: the intervention by the central banks.

54% of investors requested by Bank of America Merrill Lynch in its Global Fund Manager Survey think that stocks and bonds are overvalued. This was also the perception before the dotcom crash in 2000. What does it mean? Are we near a new crash? Do markets experience a new “irrational exuberance” as Greenspan asserted in 1996?

We receive signals, because we cannot guess the future. The clear signal is that markets are not operating free: is it logical that several countries and companies are paying negative interests for the bonds? Is it logical that central banks keep their interest rates so low? Not at all, but the crash of this bubble can create a wave difficult to control.

My goal in bearish markets: capital preservation

Markets are currently very volatile. We have lived a strong bearish period, but it is not sure that the bulls are coming, as the trend is not clear yet. In this case, panic is the worst adviser. On the contrary, investors have to analyse properly their portfolios to take right decisions. If you are not a trader, if you are a long-term investor, then you have to assume that it is difficult to avoid losses in some periods, moreover when all markets are dropping. So, your goal has to be another: capital preservation.

What does capital preservation mean? Your goal as investor must be to keep your assets with the less possible losses or, of course, to obtain benefits. As there are many changes in the long term, then you have to concentrate your worries in the bearish times: how much are you losing? The success is not to lose or lose less than the reference markets, but how can you get that information? The answer is smart benchmark.

Smart benchmark chart in T-Advisor

The picture above is very clear: my portfolio is losing, because I have invested in a market that is going hard into negative, but I only lose -2.4%, while the reference market (the smart benchmark) loses -14%. Not bad, huh?

As we regularly say, it is important to have available the right tools to analyse your investments and take decisions. Capital preservation has to be your first goal. Don’t lose money or lose the least. Then it the bullish times, your goal has to be to outperform the reference market.

The following chart is even clearer:

Portfolio risk figures

My Germany portfolio is much better than the benchmark: quite less losses in a bear period, less volatility and better Sharpe ratio.

What other tools do I have to consider risks in order to preserve my capital?

  • Analyse how your positions contribute to risk your portfolio. In this case, you can find out if you have an uncomfortable asset to be substituted.

Risk contribution chart in T-Advisor

Risk profile comment with portfolio risk in T-Advisor

  • Consider the diversification. In bearish periods, diversification is a great help to avoid hard losses. You can analyse it with the diversification benefit, that compares how much you win if your portfolio has different assets:

Diversification benefit in T-Advisor

  • Look at the Value at Risk, which measures the probability of having a certain level of losses. As you can see, my portfolio has the worst VaR, what means that I have to consider some changes in my allocation to avoid future losses.

Portfolio risk table in T-Advisor

All these figures will help you to understand your current position and risk. Then you can decide if you have to rebalance totally or partially your portfolio. The strategy is clear: keep your capital and set your portfolio to lose less in bad times and outperform the benchmark in growing times.

Investment risk: some figures to watch in the assets

Risk chapter in a T-Report in T-Advisor

When you are an investor, you accept some risk. We have already written about the different kind of risks in investments. The question is: can we measure the risk? Well, risk is a qualitative ratio, but we can obtain some clues through quantitative measures.

Volatility is one of these measures. Does it mean that high volatility is the same as high risk? It depends on the asset. First of all, volatility does not measure the risk, but the price variation in a certain period. If there is a high diversion from the average price, it is very volatile. Of course, it is risky, as far as the prices change sharply and the investor can win or lose suddenly. However, think about another asset, as housing. Prices are no so volatile, but it is risky, because you have another risks: counterparty risk, inflation risk…

The liquidity grade is also important to measure the risk, as an investor can perceive how often the asset is purchased or sold. A low liquidity shows that the asset has a high risk that you cannot find a buyer when you want to sell it.

One of the most important measures for risk is Value at Risk, broadly know by its initials VaR. This index shows how much an investor can lose at the most with a probability of 95% in a certain period. The higher is the figures, the more risky is to lose money.

Correlation offers also a clue about the risk. This figure has a range between -1 and 1. In this case, the asset is compared with another asset, with its sector or with the reference stock index. If the correlation is 0 or near to 0, there is no correlation. If is 1 or near 1, there is a high correlation: the asset moves following the trend of the reference. On the other side, if is -1 or near -1, there is an inverse correlation: the asset moves in the opposite trend of the reference. This is very useful for negative waves, for instance.

As you can see, risk has no concrete measure. You have to look into figures to discover if the asset is risky and if the risk level of the asset is acceptable for your profile. The T-Report in T-Advisor gives full details about all the data about risks that an investor need to know to take decisions.

Investor: watch these figures to select your assets

You are a new investor or with low experience in investments. You have available a good database to check possible asset to invest in, but which would be the right one? How can you select the most interesting assets for your goals? We recommend you to look into a database with high-quality reports about the assets. There you will find lots of information. Check the following figures to take a decision:

Figures to follow in investments

  • Performance: look at the historical performance. How good were the returns in the last months? And in the last years? It is true that past performances do not guarantee future results, but it show a trend about the long-term stability. It is not the same to get a share with positive and negative returns in different years than a one with regular positive returns.
  • Volatility: this is quite important. Volatility measures a deviation from a middle point. For instance, if the price goes up 4% one day and goes down 3% the following, the security is quite volatile. On the other hand, if the price goes up 0.2% three days and goes down 0.1% one day, it is less volatile. Take it into account depending your risk profile: if you are risk averse, you will not feel comfortable with a share that has high variations every day.
  • Trend: it is the development of a security in a timeframe. You have to consider the recent trend to decide to invest or not. A trend has a slope. If the slope is strong, it means that the trend has accelerated. For instance, if the slope is strong upwards, it can mean a bubble or that there is speculation behind the movement. On the other hand, if is very negative, it can mean a crisis in the company.

Chart to follow investments

  • A historical chart: an image is worth more than a thousand words. It is easy to detect the items mentioned above in a chart. The best one is an active chart where you can choose different timeframes.
  • Value at Risk (VaR): this is an advanced item, but very useful. What does it measures? The probability of losses in a timeframe. You will read “VaR one week” or “VaR one year”. It indicates that you can lose at maximum the written figure with a 95% probability. In other words: if you invest in that asset, you can earn, you can lose less than the indicated figure in the VaR, you can lose at maximum that figure with 95% probability and you can lose more than that maximum with 5% probability. These are the scenarios that you have to analyze. The highest VaR it is, the highest risk you accept.

This is the beginning. There are some more that we will comment in future posts. The T-Report in T-Advisor offers all these data. Check it in our platform.

T-Report, a high quality asset report as an investment tool

Figures and data are the main tool for investors to obtain good performances, but people don’t need only a collection of numbers, but an interpretation of them. Figures are useful when they are understood and let investors take decisions. In T-Advisor, we care about it with our T-Report, a full and detailed sheet with accurate and relevant data about thousands of assets. Let’s see what an investor may find there with an example: Apple.

First of all, you find the immediate figures about the stock: price, price change, volume, an assessment of the risk taking into account the volatility, the liquidity and our score. T-Advisor has developed its own scoring for all assets to provide investors an understandable way about the quality of them.

After that, you find the historical performance analysis. It is true that past performances do not guarantee future ones, but they show a relevant evolution to assess the interest for your strategy.

T-Report main figures

The following data are related to short-term trend. The system calculates the trend and the cycle phase to perceive if it is the right moment to enter (stay long) or wait, as the position says.

T-Report trend analysis in T-Advisor

Charts are also very relevant to perceive an asset trend. We provide in our T-Report several options to watch the chart and the evolution in the last five years. Anyone who wants to obtain deeper information may click on “View charts in charting area”.

T-Report charts in T-Advisor

Comparative tables are also useful to evaluate data. That is why we show the cumulative performance and different views from different technical models.

T-Report technical analysis in T-Advisor

Similarly, every T-Report compares the asset with the index reference to check if it performs better or worse. It also shows relevant figures as alpha and beta. It is to underline that the T-Report is full of hints that explain the meaning of all the data just locating the cursor on them.

T-Report risk and index comparison

In T-Advisor we consider that capital preservation is the main goal for an investor. The chapter devoted to risks analysis is wide, because we want to report properly about them to help investors preserve their capital. Volatility, VaR and retracement are the main figures. We also include a comparative chart that links performances and volatility from the assets and several indexes.

T-Report risk analysis in T-Advisor

Finally, if you are not satisfied, T-Report shows investment alternatives ranked by exchange and sector, so that you can find the one that fits your interests.

T-Report investment alternatives in T-Advisor

To sum up, investing is not a game. It requires time to analyze where we are going to allocate our money. Information is a main stuff to assess options and take decisions, but this information has to be properly and systematically organized. Our T-Report is the answer for these needs.


Alpha and beta: Greeks in my portfolio

Two main concepts in the modern portfolio theory are the alpha and beta measures. They give the investor some information about the asset (a share, a fund, an ETF, for instance) risk compared with its benchmark, but both are quite different.

alpha y beta in T-Advisor

f we take our T-Advisor screen and choose an asset (for this case, Vestas Wind System), the T-Report from it has a chapter titled “Relative performance vs index”. We already wrote about  correlation. Now, let’s explain what alpha and beta are and why they are important references for investors.

Alpha shows the outperformance of the asset compared to its benchmark for an assumed risk. In the picture, the figure is 0.0197. That means: this asset performs better than the reference index. The higher, the better. This additional performance has to do with other reasons not linked with the benchmark. This measure appears also for funds and portfolios. A way to discover if the fund manager is good is just looking the alpha.

What about beta? In this case, this figure measures the volatility or how much the asset varies in its price when the benchmark moves up or down 1%. If it is positive, the asset varies in the same direction as the benchmark. If it is negative, the variation is the opposite.

For instance, in the example above, beta is 1.27. This means that the asset is more volatile than the index: when the index changes 1%, the asset does 1.27%. If the ratio would be less than 1, that means that the asset has a low volatility.

This is the theory, but what about the practice? Just remember some ideas:

  1. Look for positives alphas but beware the beta together, because beta points how much risk you are accepting.
  2. For bullish markets, look for assets with high positive betas.
  3. On the contrary, for bearish markets, choose low or negatives betas. In this last case, the correlation is inverse.

In all cases, the investor is choosing the risk exposure. T-Advisor provides the figures. How much you are exposed is a question of your own decision.

Liquidity and volatility, inverse relationship

T-Advisor volatility and liquidity figures

Finance markets have a steady factor to be considered: risk. When we invest our money in any asset, we take a risk, because it is not given for sure that the value will increase so much as we expect. Even we cannot be sure if the value will increase.

The analysis about the risks in our investments has to take into account two measures: liquidity and volatility. The liquidity reports about the asset’s ability to be sold without changing significantly the price and with the minimum loss. For instance, housing is less liquid than bonds or stocks. This example is easy to perceive, but it is not so easy, when we compare stocks or bonds. Technical and fundamental analysis tools are needed.

On the other hand, volatility reports about the variability of an asset’s price in a certain period. In other words, how far are current prices from its average. The more changes up and down, the more volatile. There are many reasons that alter highly the prices: a crisis, rumours, figures, political or economical decisions. There are some references to measure volatility in stocks indexes: VIX for S&P500, VXN for Nasdaq or VXD for Dow Jones, just to mention some of a long list.

Separately, both measures offer the investor some information, but linking both the investor obtains much more. There is an inverse correlation, because a very volatile asset is less liquid. Money exposes to more losses when we play so risky. But the ones who follow markets and use tools to be reported about stocks for trading can get higher revenues profiting from this violent changes in the prices.

This is, for instance, the case of T-Advisor. The suite offers graphical studies about volatility and liquidity of every stock. An investor has available the last 6 years volatility figures and the risk evaluation. It also compares the stock volatility with the main stock indexes as MSCI or Euronext. After having the best information, it is just the investor decision: how risky is your investor’s profile?

T-Advisor board for volatility compared with indexes