The Returns Based Style Analysis technique was developed by Nobel prize-winning economist William F. Sharpe and is a robust tool that is used to describe
the style used by a portfolio manager. The idea is to build a custom benchmark portfolio that describes a manager’s investing style. The portfolio weights
are generated by a regression of fund returns on those of a mutually exclusive set of indices, with each index representing distinct sources of risk.
Usually this means a selection of bond and stock indices that cover some portion of the market with minimal overlap.
The consistency and simplicity of the Franklin Bissett All Canadian Focus Fund security selection makes it an excellent candidate for a sector-focused
variation of RBSA.
For Franklin Bissett All Canadian Focus Fund, the relevant section of the market is limited, providing an opportunity to use RBSA for a closer look at a
single asset class. For this purpose, a set of 12 Canadian equity sector indexes, represented by the S&P/TSX Composite Sector Indices, and the
cash-equivalent 30-day Canadian Treasury Bill Rate, were used. Additional inputs included 36 months of Series A returns and a “no short-selling”
constraint. The RBSA generated the portfolio illustrated in the graph below:
Based on the RBSA portfolio, the Franklin Bissett All Canadian Focus Fund looks to be well diversified across the various sectors of the Canadian economy.
The main focus for the last 36 months has been on Financials, Industrials and Telecommunications, perhaps indicating a defensive stance in the face of the
decline in oil prices and weakness in the dollar. These results are interesting and informative, but how accurate are they?
Accuracy of RBSA
Comparing the RBSA portfolio allocations to the current sector allocations of the Franklin fund reveals some interesting similarities, most notably across
sectors that are more likely to be consistent between Fundata’s sectors and the scheme used by the benchmark indices. Specifically, allocations in
Financial Services, Energy, and Basic Materials as of June 30, 2016, differ by about one percentage point from the RBSA portfolio allocations.
Furthermore, a simple linear regression of the fund’s monthly returns on the RBSA portfolio’s returns indicates that RBSA predicts 93% of the variation in
monthly returns. The power of this tool cannot be overstated. Without any reference to the fund’s holdings, RBSA has taken a set of monthly returns and
translated them into a portfolio with defined allocations that explains 93% of the performance of the Franklin Bissett All Canadian Focus Fund. Comparing
the growth of $1,000 for the two funds in the graph below confirms this result:
The returns of RBSA closely track the realized returns of the Franklin Bissett fund, differing by less than five percentage points in the final month.
Using RBSA to build custom benchmarks
Beyond the manager’s style, RBSA can be used to build a custom benchmark. With occasional adjustments, investors could use a portfolio similar to the one
above to measure against the performance of a fund and analyze a manager’s contribution to performance via security selection (alpha). Another possible use
involves combining the RBSA weights with estimates of the expected return of the indices to forecast future returns of the fund under analysis.
Of course, extrapolating performance into the future returns requires a cautious approach, beginning with proper specification of the model. Selection of
reference indices and length of history will have a significant impact on the outcome. Even if robust results are obtained, the potential outcome would
have to be carefully weighed against the ease of execution and transactions costs.
In sum, Returns Based Style Analysis is a very useful tool for evaluating a manager’s style, including monitoring changes and drift over time. As I’ve
demonstrated here, it has provided insight into the sector focus of the Franklin Bissett All Canadian Focus Fund without directly referencing the fund’s
John Krisko, CFA, BBA,
is Senior Analyst, Analytics & Data, at
Fundata Canada Inc., a leading source for investment fund information.
Notes and Disclaimers
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Commissions, trailing commissions, management fees and expenses all may be associated with fund investments. Please read the simplified prospectus before
investing. Investment funds are not guaranteed and are not covered by the Canada Deposit Insurance Corporation or by any other government deposit insurer.
There can be no assurances that the fund will be able to maintain its net asset value per security at a constant amount or that the full amount of your
investment in the fund will be returned to you. Fund values change frequently and past performance may not be repeated. The foregoing is for general
information purposes only and is the opinion of the writer. No guarantee of performance is made or implied. This information is not intended to provide
specific personalized advice including, without limitation, investment, financial, legal, accounting or tax advice.