FINC6001 Finance – Theory to Applications Semester 1, 2021

FINC6001: Finance – Theory to Applications
Semester 1, 2021
MAJOR ASSIGNMENT

Weighting: 20% (report) + 10% (oral presentation)
Due date: Friday 28th May 11:59pm

Being a scarce resource (for most), money needs to be properly managed. The second half
of this Unit of Study has been devoted to concepts and theories associated with investment
management that aim to assist us in understanding portfolio performance evaluation and
asset allocation.
In the first part of the Major Assignment (written report), we will be exploring different
ways to assess the work of asset managers; whilst, in the second part (oral presentation),
we will learn how to build portfolios.

Part A (WRITTEN REPORT)
Performance evaluation is an integral part of financial markets. Efficient allocation of resources
depends on the ability of investors to direct their capital to those identified as the best managers. This
raises the following question: how can portfolio performance be measured?
To address the question above, we will analyse a sample of exchange-traded funds (ETFs) available in
Australia. ETFs are similar to mutual funds; however, they allow investors to more easily buy and sell
the corresponding portfolios on an exchange (just like they would with individual stocks). These have
grown considerably in popularity since their inception in 1993. By 2020, about \$7.7 trillion was
invested in more than 1,800 ETFs in the US, which is the world’s largest market in terms of assets
under management.
Although ETFs were originally created as passive portfolios aimed at tracking specific indexes, there
also exists actively managed ETFs with other investment objectives. For instance, focusing on
attributes such as value, growth, dividend yield, liquidity, and volatility, to cite a few. To assess the
performance of ETFs, therefore, we need to first understand their goals and the benchmark against
which to compare the performance observed.
FINC6001 Finance – Theory to Applications Semester 1, 2021

Required:
1. You will be assigned a random list of five ETFs to analyse for this Major Assignment.
Please follow the instructions on Canvas carefully on how to generate this list. Describe
the key characteristics of each ETF. Explain their investment objectives and goals clearly.

2. Select (an) appropriate benchmark(s) to compare the performance of your five ETFs. In

3. Calculate and compare the monthly returns for the five ETFs and the Russell 3000 market
index, as a proxy of the market portfolio, over the period from January 2018 until
December 2020.

4. Select an appropriate proxy for a risk-free asset. Justify your data choices.

5. Calculate the following risk-adjusted performance metrics:
a. Sharpe ratio
b. Treynor measure
c. Jensen’s alpha (using the Fama-French 3-factor model to calculate the expected return)
d. Information ratio
e. Morningstar risk-adjusted rating (using 2 as the coefficient of risk aversion)

6. Discuss how each ETF has performed based on these different risk-adjusted performance
metrics. Explain the conceptual differences across the metrics being utilised for
evaluation. Determine whether there is any evidence of market timing ability by the
portfolio managers of these five ETFs.

7. Determine the exposure of these five ETFs to style portfolios based on book-to-market
ratio, earnings-to-price ratio, and dividend yield. Describe the particular style(s) that is
driving the performance of your ETFs. Compare and discuss any differences between the
five ETFs.

8. Provide a final recommendation as to which ETF(s) you would advise an investor to
purchase. You will need to provide an explanation as to how you reached your
recommendation and any potential pitfalls of your recommendation.

FINC6001 Finance – Theory to Applications Semester 1, 2021

Assessment Criteria:
1. Conforming with instructions (e.g. word length, font, other instructions)
2. Presentation, communication & style (written)
3. Clarity of expression (incl. accuracy, spelling, grammar, punctuation)
4. Referencing
5. Use of literature/knowledge of theory
6. Data/information gathering/processing
7. Conclusions
8. Analysis
9. Problem solving
10. Reflection/evaluation

Formatting and Presentation:
1. The report should be a maximum of 10 pages in length with 1.5 line spacing and size 12
Arial or Calibri Font. It should have normal-sized (2.54cm) margins on all sides. Please
number the pages of your report. Marks will be reduced by 10% for each page you exceed
the page limit. Hence, your mark will be reduced to zero if the report exceeds 20 pages.
You will be penalised for inappropriate formatting.
2. You will need to undertake research on industry and/or academic sources to justify your
choices and conclusions. Your references do not need to be all academic journal articles.
3. Ensure you use proper academic referencing in supporting the ideas and discussion within
your report. All reports must include a list of references in academic form using the APA
7th method. Further information on the APA referencing style can be found here:
https://libguides.library.usyd.edu.au/citation/apa7. You will be penalised if you forget to
reference your sources or use inappropriate referencing.
4. Pay particular attention to presentation. A component of your mark will be based on
presentation. Avoid overdoing formatting and ensure that the report is very clear, logical,
and professional. Pay attention to grammar. Clear and logical presentation is a major
challenge in report preparation.
5. Preparing a concise report poses a major challenge. Brevity and conciseness are key
ingredients of a highly successful report. Every part of the report should somehow add to
the end result; otherwise, it is superfluous and distracting.
6. Use headings in the report to separate key ideas. Using paragraphs will also assist with
structuring ideas.
7. The report must be submitted as a PDF document. You must submit the report
must be submitted as a .xlsx workbook. You must submit two files electronically via the

The page limit for the report is 10 pages.
FINC6001 Finance – Theory to Applications Semester 1, 2021

What is included in the 10 page limit?
• Report body
• Tables
• Diagrams

What is excluded from the 10 page limit?
• Title page
• Executive summary
• Reference list
• Appendices (Appendices should be used sparingly and only used to provide information to

Marking Guide:
ETF description /4 marks
Data selection and return calculations /12 marks
Market timing /3 marks
Style exposures /6 marks
Final recommendation /4 marks
Presentation and style of report /4 marks

Penalties
Inappropriate use of literature up to -4 marks
Incorrect referencing up to -4 marks
Failure to comply with formatting requirements up to -4 marks
Failure to submit Excel file with calculations -20 marks
Each page over the 10 page limit -4 marks per page

TOTAL MARKS /40 marks

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