BlackRock has recruited an Australian-born finance professor at New York’s Columbia University, Andrew Ang, to head up a new global strategy group focused on smart beta strategies. Ang will oversee, initially, about US$125 billion in assets.
The group will focus on systematic factor-based investing, most commonly referred to as smart beta, which is the fastest growing segment of passive investing in general and ETFs in particular. About US$3 trillion of BlackRock’s US$4.7 trillion under management is quant-based smart beta products, ETFs and plain vanilla index funds.
Interestingly, the Australian arm of BlackRock announced only last month that it had formed a new division focused on traditional fundamental domestic equities to round out its local range alongside its passive investments and fixed income strategies.
Ang, 42, was raised and educated in Australia, attending Sydney’s Macquarie University for his first degree, a BEc with first-class honours, and then moving to the US to do his Master of Science and PhD at Stanford University before taking up his position at Columbia, where he is Ann F. Kaplan Professor of Business, in July 1999.
Ang has previously consulted to some funds management firms and big pension funds, including the Norwegian sovereign wealth fund. His work centres on analyzing risk and return in asset pricing.
He authored a book, published last year by Oxford University Press, called ‘Asset Management, A Systematic Approach to Factor Investing’.
In that Ang wrote: “What matters aren’t asset class labels but instead the bundles of overlapping risks they represent… Factor risks must be the focus of our attention if we are to weather market turmoil and receive the rewards that come with doing so.”
* Greg Bright is publisher of Investor Strategy News (Australia)