With equity market volatility running high, it’s not surprising that many investors are turning to low volatility fare, including ETFs. That could be a sign that the newly minted FlexShares US Quality Low Volatility Index Fund (NYSE: QLV) is a well-timed launch.
The low-volatility factor investments work on the idea that they help cushion against market turns, limiting drawdowns that investors experience while providing upside potential. Consequently, the low- or min-vol strategies may produce better risk-adjusted returns over the long haul, which has been backed by extensive academic research.
QLV, which debuted last month, uses a quality screen to provide exposure to high-quality companies with lower absolute risk, thereby limiting potential future volatility. The quality screen analyzes a broad universe of equities based on key indicators such as profitability, management efficiency, and cash flow, and then excludes the bottom 20% of stocks with the lowest quality score. The index is then subject to regional, sector and risk-factor constraints, in order to manage unintended style factor exposures, significant sector concentration, and high turnover.
The low-volatility ETFs are factor-based strategies that tilt toward companies with a propensity for lower volatility. Different issuers and index providers arrive at a basket of low volatility stocks in varying fashions. Historical data confirm that over long holding periods, the low volatility factor is rewarding for investors.
Looking At Smart Beta ETFs
Among smart beta ETFs dedicated to individual investment factors, low volatility products have been popular with conservative investors based on the premise that emphasizing a low volatility strategy can help reduce a portfolio’s downside potential.
What makes QLV unique among low volatility ETFs is its implementation of the quality factor, another volatility-reducing trait.
Quality should not be conflated with low volatility, but there are times when quality stocks display low volatility traits. That was the case during the fourth quarter of last year market swoon, indicating that the quality factor can provide some protection during times of elevated market stress.
Low-volatility factor investments work on the idea that they help cushion against market turns, limiting drawdowns that investors experience while providing upside potential. Consequently, the low- or min-vol strategies may produce better risk-adjusted returns over the long haul, which has been backed by extensive academic research.
Due to the quality factor inclusion, QLV looks different than traditional low vol funds as highlighted by a combined 29% weight to technology and consumer discretionary stocks, traits that could serve the fund well if markets rebound.
For more on information on ETFs, visit ETFtrends.com.