fish escape cocept

Diversification is an investing mainstay that investors ignore at their peril. Recent reports reveal the importance of considering the concept beyond asset allocation.

First, funds managed by firms with diverse ownership are overrepresented in the top-performing quartile of mutual funds, hedge funds and private equity, finds a new U.S. study from Bella Research Group and the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, a private grant-making organization.

For example, within mutual funds, 26% of funds owned by women performed in the top quartile, along with 29% of minority-owned funds, finds the study. Generally, returns for the funds studied are statistically indistinguishable between diverse-owned and non-diverse-owned funds, yet diverse-owned firms represent a small fraction of the U.S. industry.

Alberto Ibargüen, Knight Foundation president, says in a release that the study should help investors see investing in firms owned by women and minorities as an opportunity. “This research confirms our experience: investors can work extensively with women and minority-owned firms with no compromise on performance,” he says.

A market insight report from Richardson GMP takes a different tack on diversity. It reminds investors that alpha doesn’t come from being different but from being different and right.

“Determine the consensus view and decide if it’s a good time to disprove or bet against the crowd,” the report says. That means seeking out opinions contrary to your own and working through why you think those opinions are wrong.

It also means varying your sources—especially considering current low dispersion among analysts’ estimates for earnings per share for S&P 500 companies. “Actual results don’t care about consensus,” the report says.

For more details on company earnings, read the full Richardson GMP report.

About the Bella and Knight Foundation study: The definition of “minority” includes racial and ethnic minorities, not such groups as veterans or those with disabilities. Firms could be classified as both women-owned and minority-owned if they had substantial levels of ownership held by both.