Different risk measures: different portfolio compositions?
Traditionally, the measure of risk used in portfolio optimisation models is the variance. However, alternative measures of risk have many theoretical and practical advantages and it is peculiar therefore that they are not used more frequently. This may be because of the difficulty in deciding which measure of risk is best and any attempt to compare different risk measures may be a futile exercise until a common risk measure can be identified. To overcome this, another approach is considered, comparing the portfolio holdings produced by different risk measures, rather than the risk return trade-off. In this way we can see whether the risk measures used produce asset allocations that are essentially the same or very different. The results indicate that the portfolio compositions produced by different risk measures vary quite markedly from measure to measure. These findings have a practical consequence for the investor or fund manager because they suggest that the choice of model depends very much on the individual’s attitude to risk rather than any theoretical and/or practical advantages of one model over another.