Register For Our Mailing List

Register to receive our free weekly newsletter including editorials.

Home / 403

Mind the bond/equity rebalancing gap

At the end of the first quarter of 2021, the MSCI World equity index had returned 55% (total return in USD) over 12 months, while the return of the Bloomberg Barclays Global Aggregate (bond) index was just 4.7%, giving equities a 48% outperformance (see Exhibit 1).

Rebalancing required

The quarter-on-quarter gap between equity and bond returns through the end of March 2021 was 9.2% compared to 12.4% in the previous quarter. The most significant change in the pattern of returns is that the equity outperformance over the last year came primarily in 2020, while the underperformance of bonds was greatest in the first quarter of 2021.

This divergence will require many institutional investors to rebalance their portfolios to attain their preferred allocation. This will be particularly true for insurance companies and pension funds that typically follow quite closely to a 50-50 split between bonds and equities in their allocations.

In the US, this split has rarely varied by more than a few percentage points and the allocation to corporate bonds and US Treasuries has been similarly stable (see Exhibit 2).

Given that equities generally outperform bonds over time, achieving this target allocation (instead of maximising total returns) inevitably requires redemptions from equities and purchases of bonds.

Indeed, since the GFC, institutional investors have bought bonds every year, but they bought equities only twice and then only in small amounts (see Exhibit 3).

No meaningful impact

What might we expect in terms of fund flows in the upcoming quarter as US insurance companies and pensions align their allocations with the allocations they had at the end of 2020?

Assuming funds flows in the first quarter of 2021 were the same as in the last quarter of 2020, and applying the relevant index returns to the existing asset base, in the absence of rebalancing, we estimate allocations to:

  • equities would be 0.4% above target
  • corporate bonds would be 0.3% below target
  • Treasuries would actually be in line (the decline in the value of the Treasury portfolio due to rising rates has largely been offset by new bond purchases).

To restore the allocations, US institutional investors would need to buy about USD11 billion in Treasuries, USD58 billion in corporate bonds and redeem USD69 billion in equities.

These figures are only a percentage of typical purchases and redemptions, so we do not expect a meaningful impact on the market from institutional investor portfolio rebalancing this quarter.

 

Daniel Morris is Chief Market Strategist at BNP Paribas Asset ManagementThis article was first published on 6 April 2021 on Investors’ Corner.

This information is issued by BNP PARIBAS ASSET MANAGEMENT Australia Limited ABN 78 008 576 449, AFSL 223418. The information published does not constitute financial product advice, an offer to issue or recommendation to acquire any financial product. You will need to seek your own advice for any topic covered in the article. Investing in specialised sectors is likely to be subject to a higher-than-average volatility due to a high degree of concentration, greater uncertainty because less information is available, there is less liquidity or due to greater sensitivity to changes in market conditions (social, political and economic conditions).

 


 

Leave a Comment:

     

RELATED ARTICLES

10 key themes for 2021

Don't invest just for yield: the smarter way to generate income

banner

Most viewed in recent weeks

Unexpected results in our retirement income survey

Who knew? With some surprise results, the Government is on unexpected firm ground in asking people to draw on all their assets in retirement, although the comments show what feisty and informed readers we have.

Three all-time best tables for every adviser and investor

It's a remarkable statistic. In any year since 1875, if you had invested in the Australian stock index, turned away and come back eight years later, your average return would be 120% with no negative periods.

The looming excess of housing and why prices will fall

Never stand between Australian households and an uncapped government programme with $3 billion in ‘free money’ to build or renovate their homes. But excess supply is coming with an absence of net migration.

Five stocks that have worked well in our portfolios

Picking macro trends is difficult. What may seem logical and compelling one minute may completely change a few months later. There are better rewards from focussing on identifying the best companies at good prices.

10 reasons wealthy homeowners shouldn't receive welfare

The RBA Governor says rising house prices are due to "the design of our taxation and social security systems". The OECD says "the prolonged boom in house prices has inflated the wealth of many pensioners without impacting their pension eligibility." What's your view?

Six COVID opportunist stocks prospering in adversity

Some high-quality companies have emerged even stronger since the onset of COVID and are well placed for outperformance. We call these the ‘COVID Opportunists’ as they are now dominating their specific sectors.

Latest Updates

Retirement

10 reasons wealthy homeowners shouldn't receive welfare

The RBA Governor says rising house prices are due to "the design of our taxation and social security systems". The OECD says "the prolonged boom in house prices has inflated the wealth of many pensioners without impacting their pension eligibility." What's your view?

Interviews

Sean Fenton on marching to your own investment tune

Is it more difficult to find stocks to short in a rising market? What impact has central bank dominance had over stock selection? How do you combine income and growth in a portfolio? Where are the opportunities?

Compliance

D’oh! DDO rules turn some funds into a punching bag

The Design and Distribution Obligations (DDO) come into effect in two weeks. They will change the way banks promote products, force some small funds to close to new members and push issues into the listed space.

Shares

Dividends, disruption and star performers in FY21 wrap

Company results in FY21 were generally good with some standout results from those thriving in tough conditions. We highlight the companies that delivered some of the best results and our future  expectations.

Fixed interest

Coles no longer happy with the status quo

It used to be Down, Down for prices but the new status quo is Down Down for emissions. Until now, the realm of ESG has been mainly fund managers as 'responsible investors', but companies are now pushing credentials.

Investment strategies

Seven factors driving growth in Managed Accounts

As Managed Accounts surge through $100 billion for the first time, the line between retail, wholesale and institutional capabilities and portfolios continues to blur. Lower costs help with best interest duties.

Retirement

Reader Survey: home values in age pension asset test

Read our article on the family home in the age pension test, with the RBA Governor putting the onus on social security to address house prices and the OECD calling out wealthy pensioners. What is your view?

Sponsors

Alliances

© 2021 Morningstar, Inc. All rights reserved.

Disclaimer
The data, research and opinions provided here are for information purposes; are not an offer to buy or sell a security; and are not warranted to be correct, complete or accurate. Morningstar, its affiliates, and third-party content providers are not responsible for any investment decisions, damages or losses resulting from, or related to, the data and analyses or their use. Any general advice or ‘regulated financial advice’ under New Zealand law has been prepared by Morningstar Australasia Pty Ltd (ABN: 95 090 665 544, AFSL: 240892) and/or Morningstar Research Ltd, subsidiaries of Morningstar, Inc, without reference to your objectives, financial situation or needs. For more information refer to our Financial Services Guide (AU) and Financial Advice Provider Disclosure Statement (NZ). You should consider the advice in light of these matters and if applicable, the relevant Product Disclosure Statement before making any decision to invest. Past performance does not necessarily indicate a financial product’s future performance. To obtain advice tailored to your situation, contact a professional financial adviser. Articles are current as at date of publication.
This website contains information and opinions provided by third parties. Inclusion of this information does not necessarily represent Morningstar’s positions, strategies or opinions and should not be considered an endorsement by Morningstar.

Website Development by Master Publisher.