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AHL on Trend Following

Famed trend follower AHL:

The turn of the year is when traditional long only money managers state their predictions for the year ahead. Equity managers may be bullish if stocks are cheap or central bankers are expected to flood the markets with money, for example. Or they may be bearish if value is perceived the other way. It may not be an easy task, but the manager can generally make a guess based on a reasonably sound and intuitive argument. For a trend follower, however, it really is hard to answer the question in a manner that would satisfy most people.

The reason for this originates in how trend followers trade. The schematic below illustrates how trend followers are typically long when a market is rising and typically short when a market is falling. This is achieved through a systematic, non-discretionary process where computer algorithms analyse historic data in order to identify trends lasting anything from a few days to multiple months, with an average of around two months. Of course, individual markets may not trend all the time, so trend followers diversify by trading a wide variety of markets over many asset classes. The intention is that, as long as these markets are lowly correlated, the trend-following net is cast as wide as possible, and trends are captured wherever and whenever they occur. The technique is applied to the most liquid instruments available, meaning the strategy itself is highly liquid.



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