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Frank Nielsen

Research and Insights

Articles by Frank Nielsen

    Back to the Future of Risk Management

    Research Report | Sep 26, 2011 | Audrey Costabile, Frank Nielsen

    In 2009, MSCI conducted a global survey, The Future of Market Risk Management. The goal of this survey was to identify the most relevant issues for market risk, the role of the risk manager, and risk trends resulting from the aftermath of the financial crisis. In this paper, we review the results of the latest survey, MSCI’s 2011 Global Asset Owners Survey: Back to the Future of Risk Management. With 85 participants from 26 countries, this survey looks at risk management...

    A Long Hot Summer

    Research Report | Sep 26, 2011 | Jennifer Bender, Frank Nielsen

    Pairwise correlations have increased to historic highs since the beginning of August. This increase coincides with a historic spike in the importance of market volatility (captured by the Country factor in the new Barra US Equity Model (USE4)) relative to the volatility of other factors like styles and industries. Intuitively, this relationship makes sense since all stocks are exposed to the market. What this has meant for portfolio managers is a marked increase in total or absolute risk but...

    The Role of Real Estate in Objectives Driven Asset Allocation

    Research Report | Sep 21, 2011 | Raghu Suryanarayanan, Zoltán Nagy, Frank Nielsen

    In this paper, we examine the role of real estate in a multi-asset class institutional portfolio that adopts an objectives-driven asset allocation framework. We show that real estate may serve a variety of functions in an institutional investor's portfolio and should not be treated as a homogeneous asset class. Instead, the appropriate type of investment should be aligned with the total plan goals, with a focus on evaluating different real estate investments for their ability to add value to...

    Global Equity Allocation

    Research Report | Mar 1, 2011 | Subramanian Aylur, Giacomo Fachinotti, Xiaowei Kang, Frank Nielsen

    If you would like to gain a greater understanding of current practices and emerging trends in the implementation of global equity allocation policies, take a look at Global Equity Allocation, three of our most popular papers on this topic compiled into one easy-to-read publication.

    Some Like It Hot

    Research Report | Jan 26, 2011 | Giacomo Fachinotti, Xiaowei Kang, Frank Nielsen

    As part of the MSCI Research series on global equity implementation, this paper reviews the active management opportunity in different market segments, and discusses the role of very active mandates across segments in a core-satellite portfolio structure. Our research based on manager performance data over the last 10 years indicates that there is little evidence that average emerging markets or small cap managers have produced higher or more persistent risk-adjusted returns relative to...

    The "New Classic" Equity Allocation?

    Research Report | Oct 6, 2010 | Giacomo Fachinotti, Xiaowei Kang, Frank Nielsen

    The recent financial crisis led many institutional investors to review their asset allocation policies and explore alternative approaches to implementation. MSCI recently held discussions around the world with major pension plans, asset managers, and investment consultants to understand different approaches to implementing equity allocation. Following these consultations, we provide a framework for the implementation of global equity allocation. Our research suggest that global equity...

    The Fundamentals of Fundamental Factor Models

    Research Report | Jun 30, 2010 | Jennifer Bender, Frank Nielsen

    This paper highlights the fundamental-based origins of the factor models used at Barra. Barr Rosenberg and Vinay Marathe (1976) first discussed the theory that the effects of macroeconomic events on individual securities could be captured through microeconomic characteristics such as industry membership, financial structure, or growth orientation. This linkage between macroeconomic events and microeconomic (or fundamental) characteristics lies at the heart of the factor model. We...

    Globalization of Equity Policy Portfolios

    Research Report | Oct 1, 2009 | Subramanian Aylur, Giacomo Fachinotti, Frank Nielsen

    Globalization has brought about a major rethinking of the equity investment. Thought leaders in the industry are questioning the merit of the existing equity allocation practices and are increasingly looking towards an integrated global equity investment process. The partitioned domestic/non-domestic approach to equity investing may have been built on the grounds of segmented economies, high levels of foreign investment restrictions, and heavily domestically-focused companies but its validity...

    An Update on Emerging Markets

    Research Report | Sep 1, 2009 | Jennifer Bender, Frank Nielsen, Madhusudan Subramanian

    The 2008 crisis has offered another look at how emerging market stocks have behaved relative to developed markets.  In the aftermath of the crisis, we take a fresh look at emerging markets to explore these questions: Have emerging markets matched growth forecasts? Which segments have performed well? How have emerging markets behaved relative to developed markets?  While in the aggregate, emerging market stocks were not immune to the crisis, there were some clear differences between...

    Best Practices for Investment Risk Management

    Research Report | Jun 1, 2009 | Jennifer Bender, Frank Nielsen

    A successful investment process requires a risk management structure that addresses multiple aspects of risk. Here we lay out a best practices framework that rests on three pillars: Risk Measurement, Risk Monitoring, and Risk-Adjusted Investment Management. All three are critical. Risk Measurement means using the right tools accurately to quantify risk from various perspectives. Risk Monitoring means tracking the output from the tools and flagging anomalies on a regular and timely basis....

    Portfolio of Risk Premia: A New Approach to Diversification

    Research Report | Jan 1, 2009 | Frank Nielsen, Dan Stefek

    Traditional asset allocation approaches have not provided the full potential of diversification. Here, we introduce a different approach and look at structuring portfolios using risk premia within the traditional asset classes or from systematic trading strategies. We confirm the potential benefits of such an approach by comparing a typical 60/40 equity/fixed income allocation with an equal weighted allocation across eleven risk premia.

    Far from the Madding Crowd - Volatility Efficient Indices

    Research Report | Apr 1, 2008 | Frank Nielsen

    Minimum-variance and managed volatility equity strategies have recently gained popularity. We developed a global minimum volatility index that can serve as a transparent and relevant benchmark for managed volatility equity strategies.

    International Small Cap - A Distinct Asset Class?

    Research Report | Oct 1, 2007 | Frank Nielsen

    The paper investigates if international small cap has been distinctly different from large caps and therefore deserved to be part of a policy benchmark. Our results indicated an increase in correlations between aggregated MSCI EAFE Small Cap and Standard Indexes in recent years. But the challenges in small cap investing have been different as the level of stock return dispersion has been larger than within the standard segment and decisions on country allocation had a bigger impact on...

    Dynamic Volatility and its Implications for Portfolio Management

    Research Report | Jun 1, 2006 | Frank Nielsen

    A discussion on the implications of changing volatility levels on active and passive portfolio management. In the Summer 2005 Horizon Newsletters, we examined the sources of cross-sectional volatility in the Japan market. We extend the study to Europe and the US market and simulate the impact of dynamically changing volatility levels on active portfolio risk. We show that the optimal level of tracking error, the size of active exposures, and the optimal number of securities vary wildly with...

    In Search of Global Diversification: Developed and Emerging Markets

    Research Report | Mar 1, 2006 | Frank Nielsen, Anton Puchkov

    Using monthly data from 1991 through 2004, we find evidence for dramatic convergence in properties of globally aggregated developed and emerging markets, greatly limiting the diversifying power of passive emerging markets investing. However, although equity returns in an 'average' emerging market follow the rest of the world more closely than a decade ago, emerging markets still constitute a dynamic and heterogeneous investment environment. We re-confirm that, given the importance of country...