Articles (71)


  • iShares vs. Dimensional: Through a Statistical Lens

    by Tom Allen and Mark Hebner — Tuesday, April 18, 2017

    In Step 11 of the IFA 12-Step Recovery Program for Active Managers we talk about the implementation of our 100 IFA Index Portfolios. As strong proponents of a passive investment strategy, we have options in ...Read More

  • The Random Walker, Visualizing How Markets Work

    by Tom Allen and Mark Hebner — Wednesday, March 8, 2017

    Since the firm’s founding in 1999, investor education has been one of the cornerstones of our business model. Understanding the link between investment knowledge and risk capacity, our commitment to ...Read More

  • Diversification: Expanding the Opportunity Set!

    by Tom Allen and Mark Hebner — Monday, March 7, 2016

    “Diversification is your buddy!” – Merton Miller, Nobel Laureate Diversification means different things to different people. Some people understand the timeless adage of “don’t ...Read More

  • The China Syndrome

    by Jim Parker — Friday, July 31, 2015

    The recent severe volatility in China’s share markets has raised questions among many investors about the causes of the fall and the wider implications for the global economy and markets. The Shanghai ...Read More

  • Q&A with IFA: Momentum at the Asset Class Level

    by Mark Hebner and IFA Contributors — Monday, March 2, 2015

    Question: I understand that there is evidence that momentum is one contributing factor to long term performance (in addition to the size and value factors). There is a current advisory service (Fundx) that ...Read More

  • Why Does This Machine Simulate Monthly Market Returns?

    by Mark Hebner and IFA Contributors — Wednesday, February 25, 2015

    Anyone who has visited IFA’s office in Irvine will likely have a fond memory of Francis, IFA’s probability machine, named after Francis Galton, an English mathematician who was an expert in many ...Read More

  • The Paper that Formalized the Size Premium

    by Mark Hebner and IFA Contributors — Friday, January 16, 2015

    At Index Fund Advisors, we implement portfolios for our clients that are tilted towards the compensated risk and return factors of small cap, value, and profitability. In this article, we will review the ...Read More

  • What Can We Read into the Increase in the VIX Index?

    by Mark Hebner and IFA Contributors — Friday, December 12, 2014

    As noted in this CNBC article, The CBOE Volatility Index (VIX) which is widely interpreted to be an indicator of fear has risen by 40% (actually 57% based on the 12/10/2014 close) over the three trading days ...Read More

  • Can You Rely on Mean Reversion to Outsmart the Market?

    by Mark Hebner and IFA Contributors — Friday, November 21, 2014

    Mean reversion is the idea that following a period of above-average returns, there is more likely to be a period of below-average returns and vice versa. It can be applied not just to the overall stock market ...Read More

  • Enhancing Returns in Passively Managed Bond Funds

    by Mark Hebner — Wednesday, October 29, 2014

    While the title of this article may seem like an oxymoron, it definitely does not refer to the activity of seeking out mispriced bonds, for the bond market is efficient, with prices incorporating investor ...Read More

  • The Five Qualifications of a Risk Premium

    by Mark Hebner and IFA Contributors — Monday, October 20, 2014

    How can we determine whether or not we have identified an exploitable risk premium—a source of higher expected returns that we can implement in our portfolios? To understand the concept of a risk ...Read More

  • Q&A with IFA: Reducing Risk with Options

    by Mark Hebner and IFA Contributors — Friday, August 22, 2014

    Question: Can put or call options be used to achieve a more predictable risk-return tradeoff? For example, should I purchase put options to minimize equity portfolio losses? Note: The question above was ...Read More

  • Risk Savvy—How to Make Good Decisions

    by IFA Contributors — Tuesday, July 22, 2014

    A New Book by Gerd Gigerenzer Innumeracy is a word coined by cognitive scientist Douglas R. Hofstadter in the early 1980s to describe a lack of basic mathematical ability as it applies to everyday life. Later ...Read More

  • Is There a Manager Risk Premium?

    by IFA Contributors — Friday, June 20, 2014

    A risk premium is the return in excess of a reference rate that an investment is expected to provide. At Index Funds Advisors, Inc., we often speak of three different equity-related risk premiums. First, the ...Read More

  • Q&A with IFA: Dividends—Is Bigger Better?

    by Mark Hebner and IFA Contributors — Friday, June 6, 2014

    Question: Does an equity strategy focusing on stocks with above-average dividend yield offer an appealing risk/reward tradeoff? Have dividend-paying stocks outperformed non-dividend payers in the U.S.? Note: ...Read More

  • Capturing the Momentum Factor—Simple but Not Easy

    by Mark Hebner and IFA Contributors — Tuesday, April 22, 2014

    Last year, we wrote this article about momentum, which as the name suggests, is the tendency of securities that have outperformed (or underperformed) the market over a three- to twelve-month period to continue ...Read More

  • The Golden Ticket Trap

    by Jim Parker — Thursday, February 6, 2014

    In a popular children’s story, the young hero pins all his hopes on finding one of a handful of “golden tickets” hidden among millions of candy bars. It seems many people approach investing ...Read More

  • Liquidity: Is It a Risk Factor?

    by Mark Hebner and IFA Contributors — Thursday, January 9, 2014

    According to Investopedia, liquidity is defined as the degree to which an asset can be bought or sold in the market without affecting the asset’s price. If you have ever attempted to sell a large block ...Read More

  • Probability In Motion

    by Mark Hebner — Wednesday, January 1, 2014

    "The probable is what usually happens." - Aristotle Say "HELLO" to Francis, IFA’s newest probability machine, named after Francis Galton, an English mathematician who was an expert in many scientific ...Read More

  • Standard Deviation

    by Mark Hebner — Wednesday, January 1, 2014

    In the field of finance, standard deviation represents the risk associated with a security (stocks or bonds), or the risk of a portfolio of securities (including actively managed mutual funds, index mutual ...Read More

  • President Index Funds Advisors

    The Resilience of Capitalism

    by Mark Hebner — Wednesday, January 1, 2014

    As of the end of 2013, the S&P 500 Index has not only fully recovered from the 51% drop that began in late 2007 and lasted through March of 2009, it has actually gained 37% beyond the high point in 2007, ...Read More

  • Quantitative Easing and Interest Rates

    by Mark Hebner and IFA Contributors — Monday, November 25, 2013

    Question: Should I be concerned about the recent news about the Fed reducing bond buys soon and its effects on my portfolio? Answer: Lately, it seems that a day does not go by without a story like this one ...Read More

  • If You Can't Beat 'Em, Join 'Em

    by Mary Brunson and Mark Hebner — Monday, November 4, 2013

    "The current understanding of asset prices relies in part on rational investors and their concerns about risk and in part on psychology and behavioral finance." 2013 Nobel Prize Committee Announcement, October ...Read More

  • A Practical Example of Direct Profitability

    by Mark Hebner and IFA Contributors — Friday, September 13, 2013

    In recent weeks, we have published two articles (here and here) on direct profitability and its potential use as a dimension of expected returns. Since these articles were somewhat abstract in nature and ...Read More

  • A Deeper Dive into the Value Factor

    by Mark Hebner — Thursday, August 29, 2013

    The third risk factor in the Fama/French model is the amount of exposure to low priced stocks, which is measured by a book-to-market (BtM) value ...Read More

  • Profitability and a Four-Factor Model

    by Mark Hebner and IFA Contributors — Friday, August 2, 2013

    When constructing or evaluating a domestic equity portfolio, Index Fund Advisors has traditionally utilized the three-factor asset pricing model that Professors Eugene Fama and Ken French introduced1 in 1993. ...Read More

  • What is Risk?

    by Mark Hebner — Saturday, June 22, 2013

    There are many terms used by investment professionals and academics in their quest to define ...Read More

  • Momentum: A Fourth Factor

    by IFA Contributors — Monday, April 1, 2013

    Throughout IFA’s Website, you will find references to the three-factor model formulated by Professors Eugene Fama and Ken French, which says that the expected return of a broadly diversified stock ...Read More

  • Time Diversification of Risk

    by Mark Hebner — Sunday, January 27, 2013

    As the investment time horizon lengthens, the actual average annual compound return achieved by a stock portfolio converges to its expected ...Read More

  • Reaching for Yield: Junk and Other High-Risk Bonds

    by IFA Contributors — Tuesday, June 26, 2012

    In this concluding article in the series exploring different ways investors might attempt to increase the income generated by their portfolios, we look at high-yield bonds. These securities offer a higher ...Read More

  • Reaching for Yield: High-Yield Mortgage REITs

    by IFA Contributors — Monday, December 12, 2011

    In this continuing series exploring different ways investors might attempt to increase the annual income received from their portfolios, we look at mortgage real estate investment trusts (REITs). A REIT is a ...Read More

  • Brad Steiman

    What's the Significance?

    by Brad Steiman — Friday, May 6, 2011

    Caution: Technical Discussion to Follow—READ AT YOUR OWN RISK. As the old saying goes, there are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies, and statistics. It is true data can be tortured with statistical ...Read More

  • IFA's Quote of the Week - 23 (Richard C. Green)

    by Mark Hebner / Mary Brunson — Thursday, June 12, 2008

    "For a long career full of breakthroughs that have advanced our understanding of financial markets, and his early fundamental work on efficient markets, we are proud to have Professor Fama as the first ...Read More

  • IFA's Quote of the Week - 7 (William F. Sharpe)

    by Mark Hebner / Mary Brunson — Monday, February 18, 2008

    William Sharpe tells us that if we want to achieve higher expected returns, we must be able to both emotionally and financially be able to withstand the increased volatility that inevitably comes with higher ...Read More

  • IFA's Quote of the Week - 3 (Charles Ellis)

    by Mark Hebner / Mary Brunson — Monday, January 21, 2008

    Charles Ellis was an early proponent of indexing. His quote addresses two important points: First, we should expect the stock market to rise over time, but take us on some ups and downs along the way. Second, ...Read More

  • DFA vs Vanguard (from 2004)

    by Christian Chensvold — Thursday, January 1, 2004

    Research shows that for a long-term investment strategy, Dimensional Fund Advisors (DFA) consistently delivers superior results to Vanguard. In a survey of between 1,100 and 2,000 investment advisors held ...Read More