Modern Portfolio Theory was born in the mind of Dr. Harry Markowitz while he waited to see his thesis advisor; it won him a Nobel Prize. Since then, the idea of balancing risk and return has become fundamental to investment analysis. Now a new Web site, riskview.com, will be sowing the same seeds in the minds of any investor who can operate a web browser. The service is free.
Launched by Infinity Financial Technology in partnership with IBM, Dow Jones and FAME Information Services, riskview.com will allow investors to manage their own portfolios much as professional fund managers do. Among its capabilities, it can measure portfolio risk; identify the source of greatest volatility; optimize portfolio performance; apply a Value-at-Risk analysisoallowing measurement of how much one is likely to lose in the future on the portfolio or a stock; analyze individual stocks; identify portfolio correlations; and create individual portfolio benchmarks that can be compared with the overall market's alphas and betas. Analysis can be measured daily. All in all, it's a professional tool for portfolio monitoring and analysis.
Prominently featured in the offering is Infinity's EquityMetrics, close kin to J.P. Morgan's RiskMetrics, which was developed on the watch of Infinity vice chairman Till Guldimann when he was head of global research at that bank. RiskMetrics has become a standard tool in the investment business since it debuted. "It's the same underlying methodology," says Guldimann. "But while RiskMetrics applies only to very broad market indices like the S&P 500, this applies to individual stocks."
The fundamental algorithm used in RiskMetrics didn't need to be changed for EquityMetrics, says Guldimann. "You don't have to adust the algorithm at all; all you have to have is the underlying data on the individual stock; you need very clean total return data on stocks. Morgan didn't have that data; the only people who have that data are the people who create indices. So Dow had it." Riskview.com has access to five years of data on 2,800 stocks and 3,000 indexes. New IPOs are not included.
Ventures like these are expensive; since other index providers sell their data, why is this data being given away? "We feel that as the market gets more educated and sees the value of this information, they will go to the intermediariesothe Schwabs and Merrill Lynchesoand say 'We need this information,' leading them to Infinity's door," says Guldimann.