A Tale of Two Funds

There are helpful and unhelpful models for determining risk-based profit attribution, according to Michael B. Miller, founder and CEO, Northstar Risk. This is part 2 of his explanation about how to attribute financial performance, given at a webinar sponsored by the Global Association of Risk Professionals on June 20, 2018. Miller gave an example of two funds. Fund A contains both long and short assets, is market neutral and generates positive alpha. Fund B is a macro fund that is market dependent and whose manager is correct 54 percent of the time. The returns of Funds A and B look very […]

Risk-Based Profit Attribution

“Even the best portfolio managers have bad years due to macroeconomic factors beyond their control,” said Michael B. Miller, founder and CEO, Northstar Risk, to an audience of financial risk professionals. This is Part 1 of his talk about how to attribute performance for financial management at a webinar sponsored by the Global Association of Risk Professionals on June 20, 2018. “We tend to view measurement of risk and performance as separate tasks, but performance can only be fully understood by taking risk into account,” Miller said. Performance is always evaluated relative to something else, such as “the market”—which commonly taken […]


What does the client want to see on the landing page of an automated wealth management website?  Four panellists at the digital wealth management (a.k.a. robo-advisor) session of the Financial Technology conference held on June 17, 2016, had theories on how to connect with clients. The session was part of a one-day conference organized by the CFA Society Toronto and was held at the Toronto Board of Trade. Three of the panellists showed screen shots from their companies’ websites and spoke about underlying philosophies on client usage; the fourth panellist works for a company that provides “back end”, namely, the […]

Catch a Falling Knife. Part 1

Who is taking advantage of the downturn in crude oil prices? “Most E&P assets are no longer economic to drill at today’s commodity prices,” said Curtis Flood, Vice President at the investment banking firm Evercore. He was the first of two speakers at a webinar “Catch a Falling Knife: Financial Repercussions of Current Crude Oil Prices” sponsored by the Global Association of Risk Professionals on June 7, 2016. (E&P refers to exploration & production, also known as the upstream petroleum industry.) The downturn in oil & gas prices is “the result of simple economics” caused by the “shale revolution” leading […]

Investing in Emotional Assets

When Morty discovered my vacation plans this year included Cremona, that put a bee in his bonnet. Did I know it was the home of the famous Stradivarius workshop? Was I going there to check out violins? Yes and no, I said. My preference was to cycle along the Po valley and sip espresso near the Zodiac Tower. “Maybe you should think twice about your visit,” Morty said. “I happen to have it on good authority that beautiful collectibles can be a solid component of your portfolio.” “Please Morty, don’t make wild-eyed guesses about other people’s money,” I said. Especially […]

Fama-French 2. Three is Now Five?

Fama and French, originators of the three-factor model for asset pricing, are working to understand the fourth factor –and a fifth factor, too, said Marlena Lee, PhD, VP of Dimensional Fund Advisors. She should know; she has worked closely with Nobel laureate Gene Fama and was his former teaching assistant at the University of Chicago Booth School of Business. Lee spoke at the CFA Society Toronto on June 19, 2014, about the evolution of asset pricing. Part 1 summarizes her comments on the dimension of profitability. Could there be another component? As early as 1993 Jegadeesh and Titman had proposed […]

Fama-French Model 1. Three is Now Four

Does the Fama-French three-factor model adequately capture all information available in describing stock returns? According to Marlena Lee, PhD, VP of Dimensional Fund Advisors, the three-factor model is lacking one or two important components. Lee visited the Toronto offices of the CFA Society Toronto on the afternoon of June 19, 2014, to speak to over twenty financial experts about the evolution of asset pricing. Lee was a funny and forthcoming lecturer. After her flight from the States up to Toronto, she said the suspicious Canada Border Services officer asked: “This CFA Society… what does ‘CFA’ stand for?” She momentarily blanked: […]

SM 4. A Way Of Sparking Conversations

Over the past six years, Jaime Widder, Sales Manager at Bloomberg LP, has seen an evolution in his clients with respect to the data they seek from social media. “At first, they just wanted to look at social media information on clients. Now, portfolio managers want to know how to list securities and track social velocity.” Widder was the fourth panellist (of four) to address the topic “The Impact of Social Media on the Investment Process” at a CFA Toronto Society gathering held in the gallery of the TMX Broadcast Centre on the evening of May 21, 2014. For clients who […]

SM 2. Good Insight Into The Social Ecosystem

“Customers, employees, and suppliers are empowered” through social media, said Barbara Gray, CFA, Equity Analyst and Founder of Brady Capital Research, (BCR) and this fosters the growth of firms that behave responsibly to them. Her company actively promotes investment in companies with “positive social capital.” Gray was the second panellist (of four) to address the topic “The Impact of Social Media on the Investment Process” at a CFA Toronto Society gathering held in the gallery of the TMX Broadcast Centre on the evening of May 21, 2014. As an example of negative social capital, she cited a case of Air […]

8 Things About a Winning Team

“Our firm is kind of like a teaching hospital,” said Kim Shannon, President, Founder and CIO of Sionna Investment Managers. The second part of her presentation to the CFA Society Toronto at the National Club on March 5, 2014, described what she looks for in her employees, and how the team works. Below are eight insights on selecting and retaining top talent. Grow their own – Shannon noticed early on that the most successful investment firms grew their own talent, namely, they hired junior employees and trained them over a period of years for senior positions. Greed is not good – […]