Asset allocation is one of the key tools in our investment proposition to help strike the right balance between risk and reward in your portfolio. It applies to asset classes, such as equities, bonds and cash, and different global regions.

The actively-managed Omnis Managed Portfolio Service (OMPS) and our Graphene model portfolios are all globally diversified. While the largest allocation is to domestic assets, as you might expect from a UK-based service, they also hold investments in developed and emerging markets (EMs).

The thesis supporting the investment in developed markets (DMs) like the US, Europe and Japan is reasonably clear. Their economies are robust, and their stock markets boast some of the biggest publicly-listed companies in the world.

The argument in favour of EMs is based on what we believe are attractive prospects for the region due to its demographics. As we pointed out in one of our newsletter articles in late 2018, most of the global growth in the middle class for the foreseeable future will take place in EMs . An expanding middle class consumes more and generates greater domestic demand, leading to a stronger economy.

A bumpy journey

One reason investors sometimes shy away from EMs is because they are traditionally not as stable as developed markets. These concerns are reflected in the volatility of the region’s stock markets. The MSCI Emerging Market Index (the benchmark for the Omnis EM Equity Fund) rallied at the start of 2018 before a strong US dollar, rising US interest rates and idiosyncratic incidents in Turkey and Argentina weighed on performance for the rest of the year. However, the outlook has improved lately as the Federal Reserve has softened its tone and is expected to pause interest rates in 2019, while China has launched stimulus measures to boost its economy. Other EMs, including India, are undertaking structural reforms which should improve sentiment further.

Effective diversification

As you can see from the chart, long-term average returns from EMs tend to be higher than developed markets. That’s why the allocation to the region in the Graphene and OMPS Adventurous and Balanced portfolios is relatively high compared to similar services available to UK investors (the OMPS Cautious portfolio occasionally adds a small overweight position).

We believe this will allow us to take advantage of what should turn out to be the region’s superior growth rates. But as 2018 reminded us, you must be prepared to put up with short-term periods of volatility to secure those potentially attractive returns.

The value of investments and any income from them can fall as well as rise and you may not get back the original amount invested.

Past performance is not a reliable indicator of future performance and should not be relied upon.

Range of Developed & Emerging Equity Returns Over Different Holding Periods