A risk management strategy designed to be robust to the global financial crisis (GFC), in the sense of selecting a value-at-risk (VaR) forecast that combines the forecasts of different VaR models, was proposed by McAleer and coworkers in 2010. The robust forecast is based on the median of the point VaR forecasts of a set of conditional volatility models. Such a risk management strategy is robust to the GFC in the sense that, while maintaining the same risk management strategy before, during and after a financial crisis, it will lead to comparatively low daily capital charges and violation penalties for the entire period. This paper presents evidence to support the claim that the median point forecast of VaR is generally GFC robust. We investigate the performance of a variety of single and combined VaR forecasts in terms of daily capital requirements and violation penalties under the Basel II Accord, as well as other criteria. In the empirical analysis we choose several major indexes, namely French CAC, German DAX, US Dow Jones, UK FTSE100, Hong Kong Hang Seng, Spanish Ibex 35, Japanese Nikkei, Swiss SMI and US S&P 500. The GARCH, EGARCH, GJR and RiskMetrics models as well as several other strategies, are used in the comparison. Backtesting is performed on each of these indexes using the Basel II Accord regulations for 2008–10 to examine the performance of the median strategy in terms of the number of violations and daily capital charges, among other criteria. The median is shown to be a profitable and safe strategy for risk management, both in calm and turbulent periods, as it provides a reasonable number of violations and daily capital charges. The median also performs well when both total losses and the asymmetric linear tick loss function are considered Copyright © 2012 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.