Full up already? Industry divided over smart beta capacity

Research Affiliates argues trading costs will wipe out returns; critics say assumptions overblown

Smart beta products may be suffering from their own success – at least according to one firm. Research Affiliates (Rafi), itself a smart beta index compiler, has suggested the popularity of well-known smart beta indexes – including its own – will reduce and in some cases wipe out their expected excess returns over their benchmarks. Its chairman Rob Arnott is well known for warning that much of smart beta’s returns come from short-term flows into the sector. But the firm is now warning of lo