Low Volatility Factor

Low Volatility

Worried about market fluctuations? Consider the Low Volatility factor.

In the world of factor investing, avoiding volatility has become one of the most important investment considerations. Investing in equities with the lowest volatility is the essence of low volatility investing. But how is it beneficial? Analogy from the field of cricket will be examined now.

It goes without saying that the most interesting batsmen to watch are those who have the highest strike rates. However, the sad truth is that very few of these exciting batters are reliable scorers or have high career batting averages.

Similarly, the most thrilling stocks are frequently those that rise and fall extremely dramatically. But only a small percentage of these consistently perform over time and market circumstances. The low volatility aspect comes into play here.

It's one of the easier investment criteria to use because it can be determined quickly using only the stock price across time and relative to other stocks. Also, volatility characteristics of stocks  have been found to be consistent and slow to change.

Low volatility

Low volatility stocks aren't the most interesting stocks to invest in. Their secret to making money isn't how quickly or far they rise, but how slowly they fall. They typically produce the best volatility adjusted returns, even if they don't always produce the best returns.

Low Volatility Factor Measured

With a wide array of options there is no standard approach that has emerged as a dominant one among investment managers and index providers.

And while standard deviation or related measures are quite popular, the periods of computation differ significantly. The table below describes the different types of low volatility factor indices across the world and the parameters used in their construction.

Index Details Factor Characteristics  Methodology 
Index Name: S&P 500 Low Volatility Index (US)
Index Provider: S&P Dow Jones Indices LLC
Standard Deviation of Daily Price Returns (Last 1 Yr/approx 252 trading days) Tilt the S&P 500 Index (capitalisation-weighted) towards 100 constituents with lowest volatilities, ranked inversely in terms of their realised volatilities.
Index Name: MSCI USA Minimum Volatility Index (USD)
Index Provider: MSCI Inc.
Overall portfolio variance using individual variances and covariances between returns of constituents in the Parent Index Tilt MSCI USA Index (capitalisation-weighted) towards an optimised portfolio which reduces the portfolio’s overall volatility 
Index Name: Nasdaq Factor Family US Low Volatility Index 
Index Provider: Nasdaq, Inc
Volatility Change Score and Volatility Strength Score based on realised standard deviation Tilt Nasdaq US 500 Large Cap Index (capitalisation-weighted) towards 50 constituents having the lowest Volatility Strength Scores, with their weights being inversely proportional to the realised volatilities
Index Name: NIFTY100 Low Volatility 30 Index
Index Provider: NSE Indices Ltd
Standard deviation of daily price returns (log-normal) over last 1-Yr period Tilting NIFTY100 Index (capitalisation-weighted) towards 30 constituents with lowest volatility scores, with their weights being inversely proportional to the realised volatilities

 Source: FTSE Russell, Research Affiliates, LLC, MSCI Inc, S&P Dow Jones Indices LLC, Nasdaq, Inc & NSE Indices Ltd

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