With the proliferation of ETFs and model portfolios and the growing amount of assets flowing into them, more and more AUM has been going into low vol and other risk management-oriented strategies. This is doubly true with the big volatility of the last year. However, a small cautionary tale to share today. If you take a look at LVHD, a popular “low volatility high dividend” ETF from Legg Mason, you see a fund that has significantly underperformed the S&P 500 and failed to protect investors from volatility. It is hard to know exactly why because the fund’s proprietary methodology is not transparent. However, even that fact is representative of the space. In their rush to defend against downside, many low vol ETFs and models can inadvertently and drastically underperform and expose investors to very low risk-return profiles.
FINSUM: What you get is not always what is being sold, so when choosing low vol products, make sure to pay significant attention to methodology and track record, especially during periods of volatility.