High Returns From Low Risk

A Remarkable Stock Market Paradox

The Book

For generations investors have believed that risk and return are inseparable. But is this really true? In High Returns from Low Risk, Pim van Vliet, founder and fund manager of multi-billion Conservative Equity funds at Robeco and expert in the field of low-risk investing, combines the latest research with stock market data going back to 1929 to prove that investing in low-risk stocks gives surprisingly high returns, significantly better than those generated by high-risk stocks. Together with investment specialist Jan de Koning, he presents this counterintuitive story as a modern upbeat stock market equivalent of ‘the tortoise and the hare’.


This book helps you to construct your own low-risk portfolio, select the right ETF or to find an active low-risk fund in order to profit from this paradox. And it explains why investing in low-risk stocks works and will continue to work, even once more people become aware of the paradox. It’s also a personal story, one that links our human nature and behavior to a prudent and successful investment formula. High Returns from Low Risk gives all the tools one needs to achieve excellent, long-term investment results. The book is available in English and German

Praise for the book

"The low-risk effect, that is the idea that historically, unlike many well-known theories, average return across stocks doesn't appear to go up with most standard measures of risk, is one of the most important 'anomalies' in modern finance. Pim van Vliet is one of the pioneers in studying this effect and using it to improve investor portfolios. Anyone interested in systematic equity investing should carefully read this important book."

Clifford S. Asness, Founder, Managing Principal and Chief Investment Officer at AQR Capital Management, USA


“Pim van Vliet has been a pioneer in turning academic insights on the low risk equity anomaly into a multi-billion investment portfolio. This book presents his magnum opus in a clear and powerful way, shedding light on low risk investing for anyone interested in equity investing, regardless of their quantitative background. It’s definitely a worthy read.”

Gerben de Zwart, Head of Quantitative Equities, APG Asset Management, The Netherlands


"I loved reading the book. It’s educational, humble, funny and philosophical; quite rare attributes for a financial book. In today's world  where individuals will have to take more and more responsibility for their savings, this book serves a need: providing sound and pragmatic advice about how to manage one’s savings. Furthermore, this book puts forward an inconvenient truth about investment that is close to my heart: more risk doesn’t necessarily mean more return. On the contrary, it is sound and pro-active risk management that permits investment portfolios to have sustainable long-term returns"

Fiona Frick, CEO Unigestion, Switzerland


"Pim van Vliet’s experience as one of pioneers of low volatility investing gives him unique insight into one of the most fascinating economic anomalies of our time.  The idea that risk, properly defined, generates a positive return, is one of those ideas that becomes even more profound when we learn it is not true. There is no cosmic risk karma that pays people for taking risk, and this book will help people understand what types of investment risks generate premiums, and which actually will cost you money."

Eric Falkenstein, Author of ‘The Missing Risk Premium’: Why Low Volatility Investing works, USA


“Explaining a financial theory to a broad audience is no easy task, and refuting one of the oldest and best known investment theories: higher risk for higher returns, harder still. But Pim (and Jan) manage to convince the reader in this easy to read and accessible book of their approach. They not only explain low-risk investing, but offer readers a whole set of investment (and even life) lessons at the same time. I would recommend every investor read this book. It may not turn all readers into low-risk investors, but it certainly will offer valuable insights into the risk/return question.”

Ronald van Genderen, CFA, Manager Research Analyst at Morningstar, The Netherlands


The Illustrations


Sometimes a picture is worth a thousand words. In order to explain the remarkable stock market paradox of low risk stocks beating high risk stocks in the best possible way, the book contains a lot of beautiful illustrations and graphs created by graphs illustrator Ron Offermans.


The Authors

Pim van Vliet, PhD is the founder and fund manager of the multi-billion Conservative Equity funds at Robeco. These low-risk funds are based on academic research and provide investors with a stable source of income from the stock market. He is a guest lecturer at several universities, the author of numerous financial publications and he travels the world advocating low-volatility investing. Pim holds a PhD and an MSc (cum laude) in Financial Economics from Erasmus University Rotterdam.


Jan de Koning, CFA, CAIA, CMT is a client portfolio manager for Robeco’s quantitative equities strategies and conducts client and consultant meetings, speaks at conferences and gives seminars on low-volatility investing. In the past, he published regular investment updates and was an investment advisor, portfolio manager and fiduciary manager for institutional investors. Jan holds a MSc from Tilburg University and is a CFA®, CAIA and CMT charter holder.


The Dataset

Exclusively for readers of the book we offer the complete dataset covering the period 1929 - 2017. The dataset is protected by a password. The password can be found in the book in Chapter 15 (The Golden Rule) and equals the third word in the first sentence of this chapter.

April 2017: Dataset has been updated and includes returns for 2015 & 2016.


High Returns From Low Risk - Dataset 1929 - 2017
Updated dataset including returns for 2015 & 2016
High Returns from Low Risk.xlsx
Microsoft Excel Table 2.2 MB

The Screeners

An overview of stock screeners:


Google Stock Screener


Yahoo Finance



An overview of ETF screeners:







Your Review

Have you read the book? If your answer is 'Yes', we hope you liked it and are able and willing to practically implement this prudent investment philosophy. We're grateful you have taken the time to 'listen' to the story of this remarkable investment paradox. We're interested to receive your feedback as it may inspire other investors as well to become a tortoise-like investor! Please submit your review on the website of Amazon (for eBook/Kindle, click here), Barnes & Noble, !ndigo or Bol.com (in Dutch). If you would like to share private feedback, please feel free to do so by our contact form.  

Updated dataset: Low Risk stocks continue to beat High Risk stocks

Our book, High Returns from Low Risk: a remarkable stock market paradox, has been available for sale since the beginning of January 2017. We are very satisfied that the book grabbed the attention of investors from all over the world as we’ve highlighted in previous blog-posts. After the summer we expect some more momentum by introducing the book in other languages as well.


In the English and German book we demonstrate the powerful and remarkable results of investing 100 USD in a portfolio consisting so-called ‘Conservative stocks’ and the results of investing a similar amount of money in a portfolio consisting high-risk stocks, the so-called Risky portfolio. Both portfolios started on the 1st of January 1929 and the book demonstrates the evolution of both portfolios until the first of January 2015. The different graphs, illustrations and tables shown in the book provide a clear message: low-risk beats high-risk when investing in equities.


During 2015 and 2016 we have kept ourselves busy by writing and publishing the book. In the book we promised our readers to inform them once we’ve updated the dataset. As of today readers of the book are able to download and access the updated dataset covering the period January 1929 – January 2017 (password protected, the password can be found in the book in Chapter 15 and equals the third word in the first sentence of this chapter). This updated dataset includes the monthly returns of the ten volatility-sorted portfolios for the years 2015 and 2016. As can be seen in the graph Conservative stocks continue to beat Risky stocks over the last two years.

Book review by ValueWalk.com

"Pim van Vliet and Jan de Koning, both members of Robeco’s quantitative equities team (with van Vliet responsible primarily for the firm’s conservative equity strategies), have written a book challenging the claim that risk and return are positively correlated. High Returns from Low Risk: A Remarkable Stock Market Paradox (Wiley, 2017) is intended for a broad audience of investors. As a result, even though the authors obviously have quant skills, there’s no razzle-dazzle math on display here"

Column in Intercontinental Finance & Law

"For generations investors have believed that risk and return are inseparable. Emperical-evidence proves them wrong. The good news: investors can profit from this paradox".

The inconvenient truth of a remarkable stock market paradox
Column by Pim van Vliet
Adobe Acrobat Document 1.8 MB

Risikoarme Aktien erzielen langfristig höhere Erträge

"Für viele Investoren gilt nach wie vor der Glaubensgrundsatz, dass sich eine höhere Rendite ausschlieBlich über ein gröBeres eingegangenes Risiko erzielen lässt. Diese vermeintlich positive Beziehung zwischen Rendite und Risiko ist eine zentrale Erkenntnis in gängigen Kapitalmarktmodellen wie dem CAPM (Capital Asset Pricing Model)."

Risikoarme Aktien erzielen langfristig höhere Erträge (PDF)
Adobe Acrobat Document 330.7 KB

Factor Investing for the Masses - 3i-Invest.com

"Take a look at the business section next time you’re in a bookshop and the chances are the smiling, bespectacled face of Warren Buffett will be looking at you from multiple book covers, advocating the merits of value investing. It is not quite the same with low-volatility strategies.

Although low-volatility investment strategies have steadily gained popularity among institutional investors worldwide in recent years, there are no ukulele-playing sages who have made this form of investing a key topic in the popular investment genre.

Pim van Vliet, Managing Director of Conservative Equities at Robeco, thought it was time to change this and has published a book that explains the history, methodology and application of the low-volatility anomaly in simple terms."

Is a free lunch on the menu? - InvestmentEurope Magazine

"There is a general saying that there is no such thing as a free lunch, but High Returns from Low Risk sets out to prove that low volatility stocks can outperform high risk ones over time. Jonathan Boyd has reviewed the 'paradox'.

Is a free lunch on the menu for the low risk investor (PDF)
Book review by Jonathan Boyd.
Adobe Acrobat Document 570.3 KB

High Returns from Low Risk als Sparplan - DeutschesConto

"Mit geringerem Risiko als üblich ein größeres Vermögen aufbauen, so übersetze ich den Titel des Buches eines niederländischen Fondsmanagers und Statistik-Strategen.


Die deutschsprachige Ausgabe erschien vor wenigen Wochen im Finanzbuchverlag und sie ist es wirklich wert, aufmerksam gelesen zu werden (ein Exemplar können Sie geschenkt bekommen – mehr dazu am Ende des Artikels). "

Book review in the Financial Times - China edition


Interview mit Pim van Vliet - DenkFabrik.Rocks

"Denken Sie einfach an die folgende »Anlegerweisheit«: Je mehr Risiko Sie eingehen, desto höher werden Ihre Renditen sein. Die meisten Aktienanleger, ob professionelle Vermögensverwalter wie Anlageberater und Hedgefonds-Manager oder »do it yourself«-Privatanleger, glauben an dieses Konzept von mehr Risiko, mehr Rendite. Aber stimmt es wirklich?"

German book review by Covacoro

Heute möchte ich das Buch "High returns from low risk" vorstellen, das vor kurzem im FinanzBuch Verlag erschienen ist. Die Autoren sind Pim van Vliet und Jan de Koning.


"Aber, worauf es ankommt: Das Buch ist wertvoll und lesenswert. Nicht vordergründig wegen der Konzepte für die Aktienanlage, die es beschreibt, sondern vor allem, weil diese Konzepte und Einstellungen im privaten und beruflichen Leben genauso gültig sind, wie am Aktienmarkt."

Bucktipp - FondsProfessionell.de

"Im aktuellen Buchtipp des FONDS professionell KLUBS erläutern die Investment-Experten Pim van Vliet und Jan de Koning, warum risikoarme Aktien langfristig eine signifikant höhere Rendite erzielen als risikoreiche Aktien"

Top 5 position for the book at AbnormalReturns.com

The Top 10 (by Unit Sales):


1.Influence: The Science of Persuasion by Robert Cialdini

2.A Man for All Markets: From Las Vegas to Wall Street, How I Beat the Dealer and the Market by Ed Thorp

3.The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck: A Counterintuitive Approach to Living a Good Life by Mark Manson

4.Pacific: Silicon Chips and Surfboards Coral Reefs and Atom Bombs Brutal Dictators Fading Empires and the Coming Collision of the World’s Superpowers by Simon Winchester

5.High Returns from Low Risk: A Remarkable Stock Market Paradox by Pim van Vliet and Jan de Koning

Book review in German by Dr. Oliver Everling

"Das neue Buch aus dem FinanzBuch Verlag mit dem Titel „high returns from low risk“ ist seine persönliche Geschichte, die eine Reihe von persönlichen Anekdoten enthält: nämlich die Geschichte von Pim van Vliet. Pim van Vliet ist Gründer und Portfolio-Manager milliardenschwerer Fonds von Robeco. Er ist zugleich Gastdozent an verschiedenen Universitäten und Verfasser einer Vielzahl finanzwissenschaftlicher Publikationen. Um diese Geschichte zu Papier zu bringen, als ihm Jan de Koning, der als Client-Portfolio-Manager bei Robeco tätig ist. Er leitet Kunden- und Berater-Gespräche, spricht auf Konferenzen und gibt Seminare zu Themen wie die systematische Auswahl von risikoarmen Aktien."

German TradersJournal publishes a review of the book

"Eine höhere Rendite geht immer mit einem höheren Risiko einher!« Für Generationen von Anlegern gilt das als einer der Glaubenssätze des Investierens. Aber hält dieses Dogma auch einer tief gehenden Überprüfung stand? Pim van Vliet und Jan de Koning beweisen in »High Returns from Low Risk« das Gegenteil. Die beiden Investment-Spezialisten haben akribisch historische Marktdaten ab 1929 analysiert, anhand derer sie belegen können: Die Anlage in risikoarme Aktien bringt nicht nur überraschend hohe, sondern sogar signifikant höhere Renditen als die Investition in hochriskante Papiere."

German book review by FondsDiscount

Investmentlogik auf den Kopf gestellt: Hohe Gewinne trotz niedriger Risiken?


"Die Finanzmärkte sind wie eine moderne Version der Fabel vom Hasen und der Schildkröte. Aktien mit weniger Risiko bringen langfristig die höheren Gewinne, sagt Robeco Fondsgründer Pim van Vliet in seinem neuen Buch High Returns from Low Risk."

New blog post on the website of LSE

The success of evidence-based strategies demonstrates that low-risk investment yields superior returns, writes Pim van Vliet.


"My wife is a surgeon, and her field of medicine has been transformed by the ‘evidence-based’ approach. Every pill she prescribes is extensively tested and empirically validated. You will agree that this makes sense, since it directly affects our physical health."

Blog by Eric Falkenstein on the Book

"Pim van Vliet runs one of the oldest and most successful Low Volatility funds in the world, which has now flowered into Robeco’s Conservative Equities brand of funds. It is noteworthy that it is not referred to as “low volatility,” because when he began this strategy in 2006, low volatility was not a ‘thing.’ High Returns from Low Risk is targeted at airport readers and casual investors, and is a quick read—36k words—that makes a profound point: objectively, high volatility stocks are bad investments."

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