Smart beta exchange traded funds (ETF) have gained increasing prominence amongst investors by combining the best of both active and passive strategies. Today, more investors are making use of these sophisticated investment tools as building blocks in their portfolio to reap better risk-adjusted returns.

After a long wait, Malaysian investors will finally be able to access these products following the listing of 2 Smart Beta ETFs (i.e. TradePlus MSCI Asia ex Japan REITs Tracker and TradePlus DWA Malaysia Momentum Tracker) on the local bourse.

But what’s so ‘smart’ about smart beta ETFs?   Are they really that intelligent?

In this article, we’ll explore what smart beta ETFs are and how do they fit in an investor’s portfolio.

What are smart beta ETFs?

Smart beta ETFs are innovative forms of ETFs that apply a series of objective factors when selecting its component companies. These factors could include different characteristics of a stock like its earnings growth, price momentum or dividend yield.

It differs from traditional ETFs that employ a market-cap approach towards picking its component companies. It is typically biased towards a stock with a larger market capitalisation as it would constitute a larger weight in an index.

As such, smart beta ETFs would disregard the stock’s market-cap and only invest in companies that exhibit certain behaviour or metrics.

Types of Factors

Source: MSCI, 2020

What are its advantages?

By doing away with the traditional market-cap approach towards index investing, smart beta ETFs allow investors to discover hidden opportunities in the marketplace and uncover value.

Smart beta ETFs apply a series of objective and rule-based strategies to screen each index component companies, which are then ranked and weighted according to these specific factors. These factors could be a range of financial metrics like earnings, price momentum or dividend yield.

This helps overcome the main disadvantage of plain-vanilla ETFs which are biased towards larger-cap stocks because they constitute a larger weight in an index.

Instead with smart beta, a more objective and systematic approach to investing is employed by considering specific objective factors to decide which companies to invest.

These strategies are known to have beaten the market over the long term as it seeks to exploit market anomalies and mitigate the challenge of traditional market cap-weighted ETFs.

Chart 1:Smart beta combines active and passive strategies

How do smart beta ETFs fit in a portfolio?

With its cost-effectiveness, smart beta ETFs are ideal building blocks for investors to construct a diversified portfolio by piling on different strategies or styles.

By employing a range of different factors such as price, earnings or yield - smart beta ETFs allow investors to build a strong foundation for their portfolio by providing greater diversification.

This allows investors to complement a range of strategies in their investments to minimise risk and reap higher returns at lower volatility.

For example, you can consider complementing your portfolio needs through an array of smart beta strategies such as dividend factors to provide a measure of stability through consistent dividend pay-outs.

Alternatively if you are feeling more opportunistic, you can employ smart beta ETFs that use momentum factors to capture stocks with the highest price momentum.

Getting Smart with Smart Beta

By capturing the best of both active and passive strategies, it is no wonder that smart beta ETFs have become increasingly popular for investors today.

Coupled with its low-cost attractiveness, smart beta ETFs can be efficient ways to fill gaps in your portfolio especially if you don’t know whether an active or passive approach works best for you.

Leverage the power of smart beta and find out how you can build a resilient portfolio to ride out volatility in the new normal.

Visit to learn more about our latest smart beta ETF offerings.

Be smart about your investments today with smart beta ETFs!


Disclaimer: This article has been prepared by AHAM Asset Management Berhad (“AHAM Capital”) specific for its use, a specific target audience, and for discussion purposes only. All information contained within this presentation belongs to AHAM Capital and may not be copied, distributed or otherwise disseminated in whole or in part without written consent of AHAM Capital. The information contained in this presentation may include, but is not limited to opinions, analysis, forecasts, projections and expectations (collectively referred to as “Opinions”). Such information has been obtained from various sources including those in the public domain, are merely expressions of belief. Although this presentation has been prepared on the basis of information and/or Opinions that are believed to be correct at the time the presentation was prepared, AHAM Capital makes no expressed or implied warranty as to the accuracy and completeness of any such information and/or Opinions. As with any forms of financial products, the financial product mentioned herein (if any) carries with it various risks. Although attempts have been made to disclose all possible risks involved, the financial product may still be subject to inherent risk that may arise beyond our reasonable contemplation. The financial product may be wholly unsuited for you, if you are adverse to the risk arising out of and/or in connection with the financial product. AHAM Capital is not acting as an advisor or agent to any person to whom this presentation is directed. Such persons must make their own independent assessments of the contents of this presentation, should not treat such content as advice relating to legal, accounting, taxation or investment matters and should consult their own advisers. AHAM Capital and its affiliates may act as a principal and agent in any transaction contemplated by this presentation, or any other transaction connected with any such transaction, and may as a result earn brokerage, commission or other income. Nothing in this presentation is intended to be, or should be construed as an offer to buy or sell, or invitation to subscribe for, any securities. Neither AHAM Capital nor any of its directors, employees or representatives are to have any liability (including liability to any person by reason of negligence or negligent misstatement) from any statement, opinion, information or matter (expressed or implied) arising out of, contained in or derived from or any omission from this presentation, except liability under statute that cannot be excluded.

Warning Statement: A copy of Prospectus for the TradePlus DWA Malaysia Momentum Tracker and TradePlus MSCI Asia ex Japan REITs Tracker can be obtained at Affin Hwang Asset Management’s (“AHAM Capital”) dedicated website at Investors are advised to read and understand the contents of the Prospectus dated 9 July 2020 for the TradePlus DWA Malaysia Momentum Tracker, and the Prospectus dated 9 July 2020 for the TradePlus MSCI Asia ex Japan REITs Tracker before investing. There are fees and charges involved when investing in the funds stated herein. Investors are advised to consider and compare the fees and charges as well of the risks carefully before investing. Investors should make their own assessment of the risks involved in investing and should seek professional advice, where necessary. The price of units and distribution payable, if any, may go down as well as up and past performance of the funds should not be taken as indicative of their future performance. The Securities Commission Malaysia has not reviewed this material and takes no responsibility for the contents of the material and expressly disclaims all liability, however arising from this material.