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Investment Strategy

Retest your investments—with the new returns outlook

Oct 30, 2023

It may be time to expand your investing toolkit beyond the familiar

Measured against the latest long-term return assumptions, are your portfolios still on track? Each year, more than 60 investment professionals from across J.P. Morgan Asset & Wealth Management, including our Endowment & Foundations Chief Investment Officer, pool their quantitative and qualitative insights in a deep, proprietary research process. The results are 10- to 15-year expected returns and volatility for more than 200 major asset and strategy classes’.

The J.P. Morgan Asset Management Long-term Capital Markets Assumptions (LTCMAs), now in their 28th year—fuel our decision making, power our strategic asset allocation for multi-asset portfolios and underpin our portfolio building tools.

This year, the 2024 LTCMAs describe a world in transition—from disinflation to greater inflation uncertainty, from relatively predictable diversification through hedging to unreliable stock-bond correlation, from easy to more normal monetary policy and into a new era of government-led spending on climate and economic security. We see new investing challenges and opportunities that may require expanding the investing toolkit beyond the familiar, to build smarter portfolios.

Revisit and retest portfolios

Too often, we see clients take a backwards-looking view, expecting investments to repeat what they have done historically.  But with the economy and asset markets in flux, portfolios also may need to adapt for the environment ahead. This became especially clear in 2022, when investors learned that bonds hedged risky assets against growth shocks but did little to hedge against an inflation shock—a problem that hadn’t been seen for almost two generations.

The three big LTCMA takeaways to consider in this edition: Extend out of cash, expand the opportunity set with alternatives investments and enhance portfolio outcomes through active allocation and manager selection.

Rethinking asset allocation may be important in light of a shift in the return outlook, in your objectives—or perhaps both.

The importance of asset allocation: Is yours positioned for a world in transition?  

Research indicates that asset allocation is the strongest driver of portfolio risk and long-term returns.1 Allocation, it’s no exaggeration to say, is the single most important investing decision you will make. In a world that is changing in significant ways, it’s especially important to step back and establish the right long-term asset allocation policy.

The LTCMA risk and return expectations have changed since last year. For investors this is an empowering moment in many ways. We believe a 60/40 allocation (60% equities, 40% bonds) can once again form the bedrock of portfolios. But there is more to do.

Today’s global economy is still absorbing two decade-defining events: the global pandemic and the invasion of Ukraine. Both sent shockwaves through supply chains, upended perception of geopolitical risk and provoked an inflation shock that transformed central banks from doves to hawks. High policy rates and rate volatility ahead; a bull run in stocks; ongoing technology adoption (and the promise of artificial intelligence) define the big picture as our researchers look ahead.

The power of asset allocation policy embodied in an investment policy statement

We know from decades of working with sophisticated long-term investors, endowments and family offices around the world that a critical part of asset allocation is taking into account changes in the world economy, markets and industries. Getting the future wrong can be the difference between achieving investment objectives or not—leading to erosion of financial health and asset base.

An asset allocation policy establishes a strategic investing framework. It takes several iterations initially and should be reviewed periodically over time—annually, at a minimum. Setting clear investment objectives is the first step. Next, defining success so you’ll know if you have (or haven’t) achieved it. Investment objectives include four elements:

  1. A return target—setting spending and portfolio distributions, or an absolute return target, potentially driven by a long-term portfolio value in mind.
  2. Risk tolerance—how much risk are you willing to take to achieve those objectives?
  3. A time horizon—how long do you have to invest? (Our endowment and foundation clients’ horizon is typically perpetual and for family offices, multi-generational.)
  4. Liquidity requirements—how much of the portfolio must be available to meet unexpected cash needs?

An asset allocation policy should be established based on those objectives. As a best practice, we recommend clients incorporate their investment objectives and asset allocation policy into an Investment Policy Statement (IPS). An IPS helps investors make active decisions and stay on track.

Using the LTCMA outlooks

How might you step from a set of objectives to an asset allocation? Our answer: by having a view on expected returns and risk across the capital markets. As we’ve said, clients often take a backwards-looking view, expecting investments to repeat past performance. But backward-looking assumptions can lead to the wrong conclusions.

The forward-looking LTCMAs are based on research set to a 10- to 15-year horizon, and intended for consideration by those whose objectives have a multi-year shelf life. These LTCMAs drive strategic asset allocation decisions for more than USD 700 billion of assets across J.P. Morgan Asset & Wealth Management—and influence investment of more than USD 1.2 trillion.

Asset allocation analysis: Our technology can help find gaps and prompt timely decisions

Over many years, we have invested significantly in developing a range of proprietary asset allocation tools. Embedding the LTCMAs and client goals together in our proprietary tools allows us to generate expectations for your unique portfolio.

One key tool—the Morgan Asset Projection System (MAPS)—lets us generate forward-looking portfolio values that account for starting value, expected inflows or outflows and taxes (if applicable). MAPS helps us understand whether a portfolio will maintain its purchasing power after distributions and lets clients set expectations for their assets’ long-term growth.

Running our tools often uncovers gaps and points toward how to do things differently. Analysis can be the basis for education, consultation and discussion, and often leads to adjustments in asset allocation (and an updated IPS). Utilizing these outlooks this year can ready your portfolio for the changing world ahead.

We can help

Markets now offer a promising and diverse opportunity set.  Whatever your return targets or risk tolerance, we believe now is the time to review your asset allocation (or establish one) to ensure your portfolio is on track to meet your long-term objectives. We have the tools, technology, research and know-how to help set you up for success. Reach out your J.P. Morgan team.

 

 

1The research is widely accepted and well-established. Canonical works include Roger G. Ibbotson, “The Importance of Asset Allocation,” Financial Analysts Journal, Volume 66, No. 2, 2010, and Gary P. Brinson, L. Randolph Hood and Gilbert L. Beebower, “Determinants of Portfolio Performance,” Financial Analysts Journal, Volume 51, Issue 1, January 1995.

 

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Important Information

FOR INSTITUTIONAL / WHOLESALE / PROFESSIONAL CLIENTS AND QUALIFIED INVESTORS ONLY

For illustrative purposes only. Estimates, forecasts and comparisons are as of the dates stated in the material. Diversification does not ensure a profit or protect against loss.

JPMAM Long-Term Capital Market Assumptions: Given the complex risk-reward trade-offs involved, we advise clients to rely on judgment as well as quantitative optimization approaches in setting strategic allocations. Please note that all information shown is based on qualitative analysis. Exclusive reliance on the above is not advised. This information is not intended as a recommendation to invest in any particular asset class or strategy or as a promise of future performance. Note that these asset class and strategy assumptions are passive only—they do not consider the impact of active management. References to future returns are not promises or even estimates of actual returns a client portfolio may achieve. Assumptions, opinions and estimates are provided for illustrative purposes only. They should not be relied upon as recommendations to buy or sell securities. Forecasts of financial market trends that are based on current market conditions constitute our judgment and are subject to change without notice. We believe the information provided here is reliable, but do not warrant its accuracy or completeness. This material has been prepared for information purposes only and is not intended to provide, and should not be relied on for, accounting, legal or tax advice. The outputs of the assumptions are provided for illustration/discussion purposes only and are subject to significant limitations. “Expected” or “alpha” return estimates are subject to uncertainty and error. For example, changes in the historical data from which it is estimated will result in different implications for asset class returns. Expected returns for each asset class are conditional on an economic scenario; actual returns in the event the scenario comes to pass could be higher or lower, as they have been in the past, so an investor should not expect to achieve returns similar to the outputs shown herein. References to future returns for either asset allocation strategies or asset classes are not promises of actual returns a client portfolio may achieve. Because of the inherent limitations of all models, potential investors should not rely exclusively on the model when making a decision. The model cannot account for the impact that economic, market and other factors may have on the implementation and ongoing management of an actual investment portfolio. Unlike actual portfolio outcomes, the model outcomes do not reflect actual trading, liquidity constraints, fees, expenses, taxes and other factors that could impact the future returns. The model assumptions are passive only—they do not consider the impact of active management. A manager’s ability to achieve similar outcomes is subject to risk factors over which the manager may have no or limited control. The views contained herein are not to be taken as advice or a recommendation to buy or sell any investment in any jurisdiction, nor is it a commitment from J.P. Morgan Asset Management or any of its subsidiaries to participate in any of the transactions mentioned herein. Any forecasts, figures, opinions or investment techniques and strategies set out are for information purposes only, based on certain assumptions and current market conditions and are subject to change without prior notice. All information presented herein is considered to be accurate at the time of production.

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Any views, strategies or products discussed in this material may not be appropriate for all individuals and are subject to risks. Investors may get back less than they invested, and past performance is not a reliable indicator of future results. Asset allocation/diversification does not guarantee a profit or protect against loss. Nothing in this material should be relied upon in isolation for the purpose of making an investment decision. You are urged to consider carefully whether the services, products, asset classes (e.g., equities, fixed income, alternative investments, commodities, etc.) or strategies discussed are suitable to your needs. You must also consider the objectives, risks, charges, and expenses associated with an investment service, product or strategy prior to making an investment decision. For this and more complete information, including discussion of your goals/situation, contact your J.P. Morgan team.

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