“Factor investing is based on the idea that a small number of factors dominate the returns of the portfolio,” Vijay Vaidyanathan, CEO of Optimal Asset Management, told ThinkAdvisor. “What Factor Allocator lets you see is how true that really is, and what the implications of that seemingly simple statement really are to your portfolio.”
Optimal is an asset manager that offers institutional-class factor strategies to RIAs through ETF-based implementations. According to Vaidyanathan, the firm has about $2.5 billion in various factor-based strategies it has built for large pension funds and institutional investors.
In the process of creating these factor-based portfolios, Vaidyanathan said he realized that there was a knowledge gap in factor investing.
“I came to the realization that even the most sophisticated of these users have a hard time wrapping their head around factors, and how you build factor portfolios, and what happens if you have more of this factor or that factor?” he told ThinkAdvisor. “Or even very simple questions like, ‘how much of this factor do I already have? And what would happen if I had less of it?’”
According to Vaidyanathan, the “intuitive, visceral understanding” of what factors do to one’s portfolio is something that Optimal thought people should get their heads around.
“But there wasn’t a tool to help with that,” he said.
So, the firm built Factor Allocator as a way to help investment professionals educate themselves about how to implement factors in their core portfolios. The free software tool also allows them to play around and get comfortable with factor-based building blocks.