5Strategic. decisions for a sound investment policy

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1 5Strategic decisions for a sound investment policy 1

2 An investment policy sets your course for the long term. Managers of billion-dollar pension and endowment funds know it s nearly impossible to beat the market consistently. So, instead, they focus on developing and following disciplined investment policies designed to achieve their overall goals. An investment policy helps you stay on course when short-term market action up or down tempts you to change your long-term strategy. 2

3 Five strategic decisions for a sound investment policy. 1 Assessing objectives 2 Asset allocation 3 Style diversification 4 Manager selection 5 Rebalancing and monitoring 3 3

4 1Assessing objectives Ask yourself: what kind of investor am I? Every investor is different and your portfolio should reflect this fact. An investment policy sets out your financial objectives, risk tolerance and income needs so you and your advisor can choose investments that strike the appropriate balance between your need for long-term capital growth and tolerance for short-term market volatility. Volatility or risk? Volatility means short-term market fluctuations. It is not the same as risk: For pension funds, risk means not having the money necessary to meet pensioners retirement needs. So they accept the volatility of stocks, as only equity markets can deliver the required returns. Most individuals confuse short-term market volatility with the risk of permanent loss. Consequently, many investors underemphasize equities and run the longterm risk of not being able to pay for their own retirement. Low volatility is not always low risk Over the ten-year period from 2003 to 2012, Treasury Bills (which have virtually no risk of loss) averaged annualized returns of 2.2%. The chart below shows these low returns were very steady year-to-year; in other words, low volatility. But investing in T-bills is not a low-risk strategy for investors who need a higher long-term rate of return. The real risk is not meeting long-term objectives. 91-Day Canadian Treasury Bills: Ten years of calendar-year returns 5% 4% 3% 2% 1% 0% Average High volatility is not always high risk Over the ten years from 2003 to 2012, the Canadian stock market (S&P/TSX Composite Index) averaged annualized returns of 8.9%. This came with significant differences in year-to-year returns; in other words, high volatility. But investing in high-volatility stocks is not a high-risk strategy for investors who need a higher long-term rate of return. Canadian stock market: Ten years of calendar-year returns 40% 35% 30% 25% 20% 15% 10% 5% 0% -5% -10% -15% -20% -25% -30% -35% Average Source: S&P/TSX Composite Index (including dividends). Source: PC Bond 91-Day Treasury Bill Index. 4

5 If you don t know who you are, the stock market is an expensive place to find out wrote market commentator Adam Smith more than two centuries ago. And the same holds true today, which is why it s important to understand your investment goals before you begin investing. How comfortable are you with risk? Filling out a questionnaire helps define your investment profile and objectives to determine the choice of investments that s best for you. The questions should focus on the following key areas: Time horizon and investment objectives Is your investment objective long-term capital appreciation or a mix of income and long-term capital appreciation? What about your time horizon? How many years do you expect to hold an investment before needing to make any withdrawals? Generally, the longer you can hold your portfolio without spending your initial investment and the higher your desire for growth potential, the greater the emphasis your portfolio should have on equities. Financial situation and income needs Does your personal and financial situation allow you to incur the risk of short-term losses without compromising your financial stability? Can you cover your current expenses without using this portfolio? Tolerance for volatility Imagine that the markets have dropped in value and your investments are down 15%, in line with the markets. Would you stay invested? Can you accept some day-to-day fluctuations in the value of your investments and some extended periods of low or negative returns because you want the potential to earn higher returns over the mid to long term? If you are prepared to accept market fluctuations and extended periods of low or negative returns in order to earn a potentially higher return over the long term, your chosen portfolio will have a substantial allocation to equities. Otherwise, a more conservative portfolio allocation may be more appropriate. People with stable financial and personal situations are generally better positioned to accept higher equity exposure. If you need to pay current expenses from your portfolio, you may benefit from a more conservative investment strategy. 5

6 2Asset allocation Appropriate asset allocation is an important factor in meeting long-term financial goals. What is asset allocation? Asset allocation refers to a process of distributing your money across a variety of different types of investments (or asset classes). The three main asset classes are equities (stocks), fixed income (bonds) and money market instruments or cash. Find the balance between returns and volatility Equities have certainly outperformed over the very long term but with a higher level of volatility. For investors with a long-term outlook, this is why an investment policy generally favours equities, with one constraint the investor s emotional and economic tolerance for short-term volatility. That s where asset allocation goes to work by balancing the greater volatility of equities with the greater stability of fixed-income investments. Determining an asset mix Investments in each asset class have different characteristics, particularly with respect to risk and return. Most investors fit into one of four main investor risk profiles, each of which has an ideal asset allocation mix. The greater the proportion of equities in a portfolio, the higher its potential long-term returns, but also volatility. In addition, adding a variety of asset classes can help to reduce overall risk without compromising overall returns. Ten years of monthly returns 15% 10% 5% 0% -5% Higher Potential Returns Balanced Growth 65%/35% Balanced 50%/50% Growth 80%/20% Equity 100% Higher Potential Volatility -10% -15% -20% Dec 03 Dec 04 Dec 05 Dec 06 Dec 07 Dec 08 Dec 09 Dec 10 Dec 11 Dec % equities 50% equities/50% fixed income Source: 100% equities is represented by the S&P/TSX Composite Index; 50% equities/50% fixed income is represented by 50% S&P/TSX Composite Index and 50% DEX Universe Bond Index. Equities/Fixed Income The importance of diversification Most balanced portfolios are built around a stable core of large company stocks and high quality bonds. Adding complementary asset classes, such as small and midsized company stocks and high yield bonds (those with a lower credit rating but higher interest rate), can help improve portfolio returns. Geographic diversification ensures some exposure to the best performing regions at all times, which helps control volatility. 6

7 3 Style diversification Investment styles, like growth and value investing, perform well at different times. Combining growth and value In your portfolio it s important to combine complementary styles that tend to shine in different economic environments. Growth investing Goal: Buy long-term earning power Earnings growth accelerates Long-term market returns Profit & stocks decline Value investing Goal: Buy under-valued bargains Value not yet reflected in the market Growth companies typically grow faster than average, have greater highs and lows and tend to prosper in an expanding economy. Value companies whose shares sell at a discount from the company s true financial worth tend to be less volatile and often outperform the broad market in recessions. Leadership shifts between growth and value stocks Returns in C$ (%) Growth stocks * Broad market * Value stocks * *Growth stocks represented by the S&PGrowth Index (C$) and value stocks by the S&P Value Index (C$). The broad market is the S&P 500 Index (C$). Value, growth or a manager who mixes both In addition to growth and value managers, GARP 1, or blend managers, look for the best of both worlds growth stocks at value prices. Combining styles reduces the risk of missing out when the trend shifts. It also smoothes out market ups and downs. 1 Growth at reasonable prices 7

8 4Manager selection Professionally managed investments rely on the expertise of Portfolio Managers. Different approaches to money management Portfolio Managers from Canada and around the world are selected to make the investment management decisions. Some manage mutual funds available to individual or retail investors, while others focus on major pension funds and similar institutional investors. This results in distinct approaches to money management as highlighted in the following table: Scope Retail Managers do not always invest in pure asset classes (for example, many Canadian equity funds also invest in foreign markets) Institutional Managers always invest in pure asset classes (for example, Canadian equity managers have 100% Canadian portfolios) Asset classes Allocation to small/mid-sized stocks and high yield bonds Mainly large company stocks Deviation from benchmark Cash management More likely to have returns that deviate from the benchmark (higher volatility) Managers will hold cash at times to take advantage of market opportunities Less likely to have returns that deviate from the benchmark (lower volatility) Managers are usually fully invested (no cash) Manager selection process After choosing a money management approach, a thorough selection process based on rigorous criteria is essential to finding disciplined Portfolio Managers (retail or institutional) who add value year-in and year-out and also remain true to their styles. Set screening criteria & performance expectations Quantitative review for managers that consistently outperform In-depth quantitative & qualitative research Short list of compatible managers Interview candidates Selection Rigorous criteria Industry leading firms organizations with long-term staying power Well-defined approach in terms of portfolio selection, research, risk and turnover Outperformance compared to other funds with the same style Consistency of returns managers who regularly add value Discipline managers who are true to their styles in all markets Limited overlap funds that focus on different stocks Diversification funds that combine well in different markets 8

9 5 Rebalancing and monitoring Equities and fixed income investments rarely move in tandem. Rebalancing keeps your exposure to risk at a constant level A diversified portfolio that is not constantly adjusted to address market fluctuations can easily drift off track becoming either overly aggressive or overly conservative. Rebalancing maintains the original asset allocation and style diversification. This is achieved by buying asset classes, investment styles and geographic regions that are out of favour at any one time. The end result: you automatically buy low which helps to smooth out overall volatility. Asset allocation after bonds fall and equities rise Buy low Sell high Original Asset Allocation The Manager buys low, returning to original asset allocation Original Asset Allocation The Manager sells high, returning to original asset allocation Fixed income (Bonds) Equities Monitoring the Managers through tracking and oversight Monitoring and due diligence, which can be time consuming for individual investors, are essential to any disciplined investment policy. It is important to carefully track, analyze and monitor portfolios to ensure the Managers are adhering to their investment philosophy and process while delivering consistent returns. Track returns and volatility relative to Managers with similar styles and benchmarks. Analyze metrics and peer groups for oversight. Monitor to ensure Managers are meeting expectations. 9

10 Contact me today to learn more about the portfolio that s right for you. The information and opinions contained in this document are for information purposes only and have been obtained from various sources and believed to be reliable but their accuracy cannot be guaranteed. Readers are urged to obtain professional advice before acting on the basis of material contained in this document. 10 Trademark of The Bank of Nova Scotia, used under license. HollisWealth is a division of Scotia Capital Inc. HollisWealth is a trade name of Scotia Capital Inc. and HollisWealth Insurance Agency Ltd. Securities products and services provided by HollisWealth are provided through Scotia Capital Inc. Insurance products provided by HollisWealth are provided through HollisWealth Insurance Agency Ltd.

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