On Demand Webcast: How Various Factors Help Smart Beta ETFs Enhance Returns

Consequently, investors may consider a mixed basket of market factors as a way to better smooth out the ride over the long-term. For example, Rakszawski highlighted the long-term benefits of a moat investment strategy that focuses on companies with strong economic moats as a way to capture a sustainable advantage.

For instance, the VanEck Vectors Morningstar Wide Moat ETF (NYSEArca: MOAT), which implements Morningstar’s economic moat rating to identify strong companies with wide economic moats, and VanEck Vectors Morningstar International Moat ETF (NYSEArca: MOTI), which takes a similar moat rating methodology to select overseas component holdings, can help investors achieve improved long-term, risk-adjusted return by focusing on quality companies that help limit downside risk while still participating in potential gains.

The Morningstar Economic Moat Rating methodology assign an economic moat rating to companies, but it also focuses on those that show attractive valuations or are more attractively priced. Rakszawski  pointed out that beyond factor effects, stock selection is also an important driver as the underlying indices combine both quality and valuation to help investors potentially generate improved returns.

Related: Smart ETF Investing is More Than Factors

Dan Lefkovitz, Content Strategist, Indexes at Morningstar, explained that the economic moat methodology focuses on five sources of economic moats: Intangible assets or things like brands, patents and regulatory licenses that block competition or allow a company to charge more. Switching costs or the expenses that a customer would incur to change form one provider to another. Network effect that is present when the value of a service grows as more people use a network. Cost advantage or the ability that allows firms to sell at the same price as competitors and gather excess profit or have the option to undercut competition. Lastly, efficient scale where a company services a market limited in size, so new competitors may not have an incentive to enter.

The economic moats may help predict good things. For instance, Lefkovitz argued that wide economic moats may help identify companies with liquidity and high return on assets, whereas those with narrow economic moats have more financial leverage, greater volatility and greater drawdowns.

Financial advisors who are interested in learning more about factor-based investments can watch the webcast here on demand.