We are the Borg, you will be assimilated – resistance is futile.
As a quant I feel like that sometimes when I encounter Barra and its software. The head of a prop desk once complained to me that everyone is using Barra and they were all getting the same solutions. So when the hedge that the software suggested turned sour, the effect was worse because it seemed that everyone else was rushing for the same exit at the same time.
There are also second order effects. Barra has taught us that the sources of equity risk are industry and common factor (style, size, etc.) and it has affected many quants' analytical frameworks. I was recently at a meeting of quantitative analysts when someone presented some equity analysis. There was general agreement was that the solution wasn’t very well-risk controlled as no self-respecting equity quant would compare two stocks (one in Autos, the other in Media) in the same sector against each other (Consumer Discretionary) as they would normalize for industry effects.
Have we been brainwashed to control risk by industry and common factor (and not much else), after being exposed to the Barra risk framework all this time or is this just another example of a crowded trade?