GAM: Efficient portfolio allocation in slow growth times

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GAM - Efficient portfolio allocation in a time of slowing growth

GAM Systematic’s Chris Longworth, Vladimir Kobelev and Guglielmo Mazzola discuss some of the topical liquid alternatives that are available to investors, and how each can play a role as constituents of a balanced portfolio.


Following a decade of sustained global growth and further rate hikes on the horizon, forward looking yields across both equities and fixed income now appear challenging. Investors are increasingly seeking alternatives that can allow them to diversify their portfolio away from traditional equities or duration risk. 


Traditionally investors have been advised to hold a balanced portfolio that is well diversified across cash, equities and fixed income. Over the past decade such portfolios have performed well, boosted by a period of strong global growth and a supportive regime of low rates across key developed markets. However, the forward looking picture now seems more challenging, and compared to history both bonds and equities appear fully priced. 


Click here to view the GAM Systematic white paper in full.


What can investors do?


Against this backdrop, many of our investors are looking for ways to diversify their portfolio risk by adding liquid alternative strategies. However, liquid alternatives are not a homogenous group and can have very different characteristics and pay-off expectations. 


A framework that we often use during discussions with investors, and which we expand on in our recent paper, is to characterise different alternatives according to two key features: 


  • Diversification – Does the investment capture, or offer an exposure to, a source of return other than global growth?
  • Convexity – Can this investment deliver positive returns in sharp market dislocations or during a sustained bear market?


The second of these is particularly valuable, in our view, as it implies that an investment can offer a positive return at the same time as other constituents of an investment portfolio are suffering. 


The below chart shows several topical liquid alternatives plotted according to these characteristics. This representation can be helpful to understand how they relate to each other and the expectations investors should have for each. 


Diversification versus convexity for several topical diversifiers 



Source: GAM. For illustrative purposes only. The mentioned financial instruments are provided for illustrative purposes only and shall not be considered a recommendation to buy or sell securities or investment advice. 


In our paper, we examine each of these liquid alternatives in turn, with a particular focus on alternative risk premia and systematic macro, and what they can offer to investors in relation to this framework of diversification and convexity. 


Although no single diversifier is a panacea, all of the diversifiers we discuss can, in our view, play a helpful role in building a robust portfolio, especially today when growth may be challenged, and the discount rate is at risk of rising. 


Important legal information 

The information in this document is given for information purposes only and does not qualify as investment advice. Opinions and assessments contained in this document may change and reflect the point of view of GAM in the current economic environment. No liability shall be accepted for the accuracy and completeness of the information. Past performance is not a reliable indicator of future results or current or future trends. The mentioned financial instruments are provided for illustrative purposes only and shall not be considered as a direct offering, investment recommendation or investment advice. The securities listed were selected from the universe of securities covered by the portfolio managers to assist the reader in better understanding the themes presented and are not necessarily held by any portfolio or represent any recommendations by the portfolio managers. There is no guarantee that forecasts will be realised.


Chris Longworth

Investment Director

Vladimir Kobelev

Senior Investment Analyst

Guglielmo Mazzola

Senior Investment Specialist Analyst

GAM Investment Solutions

May 2022

Please note that these are the views of GAM Investment Solutions and should not be interpreted as the views of RL360.

360 fund links

A range of GAM funds can be accessed through our guided architecture products Regular Savings Plan, Regular Savings Plan Malaysia, LifePlan, Oracle, Paragon, Protected Lifestyle, LifePlan Lebanon, Protected Lifestyle Lebanon, Quantum, Quantum Malaysia and also through our PIMS portfolio bond.