Risk and Return – A Balancing Act
From Max Rudolph
There are similarities between value investing and enterprise risk management (ERM) methods. For some, especially portfolio managers, this may be obvious. These investors come to the table with experience using risk as a constraint while trying to optimize returns. Years of experience have taught this group that risk balances return, and that return balances risk. Value is added by creating favorable imbalances. The investor with high returns and average risk has succeeded, as has the investor reporting average returns and low risk.
Many concepts are shared between ERM and value investing. When defining risk, which is generally unique to the individual, an analyst considers uncertainty, downside risk, and optimization. Value investors look at concepts like conservative assumptions, margin of safety, and asset allocation. These concepts are comparable, and this paper uses the International Actuarial Association’s Note on enterprise risk management (ERM) for capital and solvency purposes in the insurance industry to take the reader through general ERM topics. This is followed by a comparable value investing discussion and a comparison of the two practice areas.
In some firms, a risk manager is placed in a position with little authority, limiting the benefits of ERM. A process driven ERM function can identify risks and risk owners, create a common language, and send useful reports to the Board. A stronger risk officer adds value by using transparency to understand risk interactions, scanning for emerging risks and generally keeping a focus on how an entity’s risk profile is evolving.