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On the stability of portfolio risk - An analysis of the impact of portfolio size and risk based fund classification

  • This dissertation is dedicated to the analysis of the stabilty of portfolio risk and the impact of European regulation introducing risk based classifications for investment funds. The first paper examines the relationship between portfolio size and the stability of mutual fund risk measures, presenting evidence for economies of scale in risk management. In a unique sample of 338 fund portfolios we find that the volatility of risk numbers decreases for larger funds. This finding holds for dispersion as well as tail risk measures. Further analyses across asset classes provide evidence for the robustness of the effect for balanced and fixed income portfolios. However, a size effect did not emerge for equity funds, suggesting that equity fund managers simply scale their strategy up as they grow. Analyses conducted on the differences in risk stability between tail risk measures and volatilities reveal that smaller funds show higher discrepancies in that respect. In contrast to the majority of prior studies on the basis of ex-post time series risk numbers, this study contributes to the literature by using ex-ante risk numbers based on the actual assets and de facto portfolio data. The second paper examines the influence of European legislation regarding risk classification of mutual funds. We conduct analyses on a set of worldwide equity indices and find that a strategy based on the long term volatility as it is imposed by the Synthetic Risk Reward Indicator (SRRI) would lead to substantial variations in exposures ranging from short phases of very high leverage to long periods of under investments that would be required to keep the risk classes. In some cases, funds will be forced to migrate to higher risk classes due to limited means to reduce volatilities after crises events. In other cases they might have to migrate to lower risk classes or increase their leverage to ridiculous amounts. Overall, we find if the SRRI creates a binding mechanism for fund managers, it will create substantial interference with the core investment strategy and may incur substantial deviations from it. Fruthermore due to the forced migrations the SRRI degenerates to a passive indicator. The third paper examines the impact of this volatility based fund classification on portfolio performance. Using historical data on equity indices we find initially that a strategy based on long term portfolio volatility, as it is imposed by the Synthetic Risk Reward Indicator (SRRI), yields better Sharpe Ratios (SRs) and Buy and Hold Returns (BHRs) for the investment strategies matching the risk classes. Accounting for the Fama-French factors reveals no significant alphas for the vast majority of the strategies. In our simulation study where volatility was modelled through a GJR(1,1) - model we find no significant difference in mean returns, but significantly lower SRs for the volatility based strategies. These results were confirmed in robustness checks using alternative models and timeframes. Overall we present evidence which suggests that neither the higher leverage induced by the SRRI nor the potential protection in downside markets does pay off on a risk adjusted basis.
Author:Martin Ewen
Document Type:Doctoral Thesis
Date of completion:2018/09/02
Publishing institution:Universit├Ąt Trier
Granting institution:Universit├Ąt Trier, Fachbereich 4
Date of final exam:2018/08/21
Release Date:2018/09/25
Institutes:Fachbereich 4
Licence (German):License LogoCC BY-NC-ND: Creative-Commons-Lizenz 4.0 International

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