The end of the year is a good time to look back and take stock. What Enterprising Investor articles did readers find most compelling in 2016? The results are illuminating. Our top content runs the gamut from the granular — tightly focused, practice-oriented material on starting a firm and what to read to stay informed — to more "big picture" analysis on negative interest rates and the ongoing active vs. passive debate. Taken together, they reflect the currents at work in the investment management profession at both the system-wide and individualized levels.
The search for alternatives, things that really matter in the world, and a brief foray into the active vs. passive management debate are the topics included in this week's edition of Weekend Reads.
Standout stories from the last month include the latest entry in the Alpha Wounds series by Jason Voss, CFA, in which he analyzes the lack of independent judgment among active managers; Matthew Borin's examination of the recent Brexit vote and its fallout; and Ron Surz's piece explaining how successful advisers are like successful waiters.
Active managers are often viewed as Sherlock Holmes-style detectives gathering facts, interviewing witnesses, and developing theories to inform their investment judgments. In the latest edition of his Alpha Wounds series, however, Jason Voss, CFA, argues that this perception rarely reflects reality.
Short-termism is a major alpha wound that hurts the performance of active investment managers. Short-termism leads to higher trading costs, makes it harder to properly evaluate the management of businesses, imposes time constraints that prevent investment strategies from reaching full flower, and increases bias. New research demonstrates this pressure is coming from clients rather than from investment managers themselves.
Leading posts from November include the latest installment in the Dumb Alpha series by Joachim Klement, CFA; a Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) reading list compiled by Larry Cao, CFA; and an analysis by Jason Voss, CFA, of the potential for a flash crash caused by the confluence of quantitative easing (QE), currency market structure, and other factors.
Passive investing is not actually passive. When looked at this way, it means there are important lessons for active investors. Examples include the hidden story behind market capitalization and the importance of low turnover. This also opens passive investing up to criticism regarding the free passes given to it in terms of risk, cost, and momentum.
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