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The Smart Beta (R)evolution – 4Q 2019
Posted: Monday, February 3, 2020

By way of metaphor, consider the smart phone. When smart phones were introduced, they brought together pre-existing technologies. Rather than inventing the cellular telephone, the calculator, the digital music player, the digital camera, e-mail or GPS navigation, smart phones packaged these devices and applications together in one easy-to-use device. In a similar vein, Smart Beta repackaged known return sources and risk premia within the investment community. For decades under the guise of “quantitative asset management,” investment managers sold financial products based on these return sources and risk premia. However, these managers used black box techniques, keeping their investment strategies and methodologies opaque and unknown to those outside of their firms. This opacity allowed managers to charge high fees at investors’ expense. Smart Beta has revolutionized the industry by making investment methodologies transparent, providing investors a clear view into what risk factors they are accessing, and lowering investors’ costs.

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