Tremont Recommends LIBOR/S&P 500 Blend Hedge Fund Benchmark

May 8, 2003 (PLANSPONSOR.com) - Tremont Advisers, Inc. concludes that institutional fund of funds portfolios should be measured against a blended three-month LIBOR and S&P 500 Index.

Tremont found that by combining a 70% LIBOR weighting and a 30% S&P 500 weighting, a benchmark is created that best matches the volatility and return characteristics of a typical institutional fund of funds portfolio employing an “opportunistic” or equity-equivalent investment strategy, according to a news release.

“We found that by combining a variable absolute return component which is always going to be positive-LIBOR – mixed in with a volatility component derived from the equity markets – the S&P 500 – that we captured the key characteristics of a typical pension fund hedge fund portfolio,” said Barry Colvin, president of Tremont, in a statement. “Through our research, we determined that LIBOR was appropriate because it maintained an absolute return component.  And, by adding the volatility and alpha qualities of the S&P 500, we had arrived at a benchmark that could have wide application for institutional portfolios.”

To arrive at this conclusion, Tremont created a proxy for a pension fund hedge fund portfolio, measuring volatility and returns from January 1994 to November 2002.   This portfolio consisted of allocations to:

  • long/short equity
  • event driven
  • convertible arbitrage
  • equity market neutral
  • fixed-income arbitrage.

Tremont compared the average returns and volatility of the hedge fund portfolio against different blends of the LIBOR/S&P 500 combination before concluding that the 70/30 mix was optimal.  To determine what percentage the S&P 500 should be of the overall benchmark, an efficient frontier was plotted. It showed that, in order to match the 4% to 6% volatility target for the opportunistic hedge fund of funds portfolio, the optimal range at whichto set the S&P 500 would be between 25% and 35%.  Under theseguidelines, Tremont settled on a 30% weighting. 

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