AB IQ

Analysis that matters for institutional investors

Global markets are presenting unprecedented challenges for investors. Every quarter, we present a compendium of research and insights on the big themes facing pension funds, subadvisors, insurers and consultants around the world.   

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Previous AB IQ Editions

A Closer Look at Modern Slavery and Investing

A Closer Look at Modern Slavery and Investing

October 2022

Slavery was formally abolished in the US and Europe long ago, but modern slavery remains a painful issue for the world—and for businesses across industries. That makes it a global challenge for investors who channel capital to companies through their portfolios, requiring thoughtful approaches to rooting out modern slavery risk.

In this edition of AB IQ, we examine the role investors can play in assessing and reducing modern slavery risk. We also take a deeper dive into the specific challenges within the fishing and finance industries. And in our modern slavery roundtable, asset owners share their insights on addressing modern slavery issues in portfolios.

We hope you enjoy the diverse topics in this edition of AB IQ and find them insightful as all of us, collectively, work to tackle the pernicious global problem of modern slavery.

Disruption: The Far-Reaching Effects of Geopolitical Conflict

Disruption: The Far-Reaching Effects of Geopolitical Conflict

June 2022

Russia’s devastating invasion of Ukraine has caused widespread destruction and a massive humanitarian crisis. Its effects have also rippled far across the globe, with implications for many facets of a highly interconnected world.

This edition of AB IQ will examine three areas disrupted by the conflict. Global supply chains, already strained by the pandemic, are in need of a redesign. The energy sector was hit hard by the conflict, and we believe one effect will be an accelerated transition to renewable energy. And global food insecurity, already an urgent issue, has been exacerbated by the war.

We hope you find that the collection of topics in this edition of AB IQ bring added perspective to the expansive effects of the conflict in Europe—a conflict that we hope soon gives way to peace.

The Macro Landscape: Making Sense of the Shifting Features

The Macro Landscape: Making Sense of the Shifting Features

March 2022

Investors face a turbulent macro environment as 2022 unfolds. COVID-19 may be receding as an economic disruptor in some regions, but the terrible war in Ukraine is reverberating across humanity, economies and markets. We’re saddened by these events and hope for a swift resolution so that Europe—and the world—can begin to heal.

In this edition of AB IQ, we highlight notable macro risks investors face, and we examine the growing divergence between China and other emerging markets. COVID-19’s lingering impact on the US labor market is also on the agenda, and we assess what rising rates might mean for portfolio allocations.

We hope you enjoy the topics in this edition of AB IQ and find them helpful as the investment community navigates a challenging period for the world economy and financial markets.

Taking the Measure of Net Zero

Taking the Measure of Net Zero

December 2021

As climate change intensifies, so does the need for action—to slow global warming and accelerate the shift to net-zero carbon emissions. It’s a global challenge that requires a concerted global effort—from governments to businesses to individual citizens.

In this final edition of AB IQ for 2021, we discuss AB’s own journey toward net zero as well as compelling topics surfacing in ongoing dialogues with Columbia University climate experts, asset owners and other stakeholders. And two of our responsibility professionals offer takeaways from their recent attendance at COP26 in Glasgow, Scotland.

We hope you enjoy the stories in this edition of AB IQ and find them informative, as those of us within the investment community—and the broader world—work together to achieve a net-zero future.

Valuing the Wellness Asset

Metamorphosis: An Investment Industry in Transformation

September 2021

Change is constant in the rapidly evolving investing landscape. It requires asset managers and owners alike to prioritise breaking through boundaries with innovation: creating new capabilities, opening avenues to enhancing portfolio returns and amplifying the impact of human talent.

Our latest AB IQ applies several lenses to innovation. We examine how new advances are re-dimensioning the investment industry—from asset allocation to analysts’ workdays. A focus on disruption explores how transformational companies and strategies can yield true return potential. We also check in on data science and climate-change analysis, two newer disciplines in which innovation is accelerating rapidly.

We hope you enjoy this edition of AB IQ and find these diverse perspectives helpful as you examine the implications of innovation and change for your own organisation.

Valuing the Wellness Asset

Valuing the Wellness Asset

June 2021

Wellness—a commitment by leadership teams, a focus for forward-thinking investors, and never more important than in the depths of the COVID-19 pandemic and on the road back. But the crisis has changed organizations and workforces in far-reaching ways: both must work together to define the new normal for work and wellness.

This edition of AB IQ looks at wellness through several lenses. We explore the investment impact of wellness and tools to assess it. AB’s Head of Human Capital shares lessons learned from the pandemic, the impact on workforces and key decision points in return-to-office plans. And roundtable guests weigh in on pressing questions at the intersection of the pandemic and organizational health.

We hope you enjoy this edition of AB IQ and find it useful as you examine some of these same topics in your own organization.

Reassessing Portfolio Diversification in a Pandemic Recovery

Reassessing Portfolio Diversification in a Pandemic Recovery

March 2021

Meager bond yields and stretched equity valuations would be an investment challenge even in normal times—and the road back from the COVID-19 pandemic will be anything but normal. Investors must evaluate portfolio design with a focus on diversifying into new return sources, opportunity sets and areas of relative value. And flexibility is needed to adapt to an unpredictable recovery.

In this edition of AB IQ, we offer three principles to help investors position their equity and fixed-income exposures, balancing diverse return sources with protection against complex risks. We also examine key considerations in accessing uncorrelated non-traditional risk premia. And we take a closer look at how responsibility can add an important dimension to portfolios.

The Intangible Edge: Corporate Culture

The Intangible Edge: Corporate Culture

December 2020

Corporate culture is a bit of an enigma: widely acknowledged as a powerful driver of long-term success but more elusive than financial statements or earnings guidance. Forward-thinking firms invest much effort to strengthen and perpetuate culture, while investors and other stakeholders spend a lot of time trying to evaluate it.

In this edition of AB IQ, senior leaders at AllianceBernstein share their thoughts on the attributes that help cultures balance endurance and adaptability. A roundtable of consultants and pension managers from across the globe weighs in on what to look for in corporate culture. And we look through AB’s investor lens, too, with insights from our Head of Responsible investing on how engagement drives better cultural assessments.

We hope this edition of AB IQ presents informative and diverse viewpoints on culture—a top-of-mind issue for institutional investors and a key ingredient in enduring a very challenging year.

Transformation: How Coronavirus Is Reshaping the Investment Landscape

Transformation: How Coronavirus Is Reshaping the Investment Landscape

September 2020

The COVID-19 pandemic has rewritten the map for investors, altering the macro and policy backdrop, asset allocations, valuations, and corporate business models. Investors face twin challenges: not only navigating the pandemic’s near-term impact on capital markets but also looking ahead to future disruption.

In this edition of AB IQ, our economic team explores how pandemic responses are reinforcing secular changes, including deglobalization and rising government debt. A Bernstein Research colleague assesses how COVID-19 is altering industry opportunities and risks over a longer horizon. And AB portfolio managers weigh in on the effects of COVID-19 on corporate supply chains, which often stretch far across the globe.

We hope the stories below offer some guidance on approaches to navigating an investment landscape transformed by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Advancing Climate Science in Investment Analysis

Advancing Climate Science in Investment Analysis

June 2020

Climate change is certainly not going away. In fact, it's accelerating, with the COVID-19 pandemic likely to bolster resolve to adapt industries to a more environmentally conscious model. How can investors get their arms around the complexities of climate science and translate this knowledge into analytical tools?

AB investors and experts from Columbia University and Willis Towers Watson tackle that question in this edition of AB IQ. We examine how climate scientists and investment professionals can collaborate to develop better tools and approaches, and we explore the different ways climate-change factors are being translated to industry, issuer and portfolio-level analysis.

We hope this edition of AB IQ sheds light on the important initiative—and imperative—to bring rigorous climate science further into the investing mainstream.

Rethinking Investment Management: 2020 and Beyond

Rethinking Investment Management: 2020 and Beyond

December 2019

Many of the challenges in the investment industry today are well documented: a low-return environment, an ever-shifting line in the active-passive distinction, and evolving investor preferences. What's less clear is how the industry will—or should—respond.

In this edition of ABIQ, colleagues from our Bernstein Research sell-side business take a closer look at the challenges institutional investors face—and highlight a potential wakeup call. We collect perspectives from consultants around the world to bring a critical perspective to these issues. And we ask our own corporate leaders for their vision of what will define the asset-management firm of the future.

Refining Risk Management for an Uncertain World

Refining Risk Management for an Uncertain World

September 2019

A world of rapidly evolving political, macroeconomic and market developments is challenging investors to better understand risk. In this edition of AB IQ, we offer our latest thinking on the evolution of risk management.

We also highlight an approach to evaluating portfolio risk-management tools using a rigorous, multidimensional framework, and we explore cluster analysis, which can uncover relationships among stock returns that other risk models may miss.

We hope you enjoy AB IQ, a regular publication in which we share insights on topics we’re hearing in our conversations with institutional clients. If you’d like to have a deeper dialogue with us on these topics, please get in touch.

Cracking the Code: Investment Management Tackles Data Science

Cracking the Code: Investment Management Tackles Data Science

June 2019

Investment managers are increasingly looking to more advanced ways of modelling investing problems, which has led them to data science. Data science offers a lot of promise as a new way to address an age-old challenge: generating differentiated insights.

Large asset managers are still in the early days of data science application, but initial advances hold a lot of promise. Equity investors, for example, are taking a fresh look at questions such as airline-capacity utilization and consumer sentiment. Bond investors are using machine learning to review corporate filings, gaining a new perspective on credit quality.

But the industry still needs to address challenges before it can take a big step forward. These include improving data quality, evolving cultures to foster collaboration, breaking down silos that hinder broader integration and determining the best way to structure their data science efforts.

In this edition of AB IQ, we’ll explore data science and how it’s already being applied in equity and fixed-income investing. We’ll also offer our perspective on the steps asset managers must take to survive the inevitable shakeout period ahead.

Investing in Diversity and Inclusion

Investing in Diversity and Inclusion

March 2019

Businesses of all types are facing greater expectations to improve their records on diversity and inclusion (D&I). Investment firms are no different. There are many challenges—from adding women at all levels of company structure to narrowing the gender pay gap and reducing gender, age and ethnic bias in hiring decisions.

But the benefits of getting diversity right reach far beyond improving society. Diversity incorporates different perspectives and ways of thinking, which can improve decision-making and even investment performance.

We offer specific actions asset managers can take to improve D&I in our industry. We also look at ways to harness diversity in group decision-making while avoiding frictions. And we offer views from prominent institutional asset owners and investment consultants on their own efforts to increase diversity.

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The views expressed herein do not constitute, investment advice or trade recommendations and do not necessarily represent the views of all AB portfolio-management teams.

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