The global equity markets have been very volatile and have understandably rattled investors confidence. The ‘winds of change’ to one of the longest bull markets have arrived and our portfolio safety metrics are being tested.
At TriDelta we set out to construct conservative portfolios designed to deliver in all market cycles for financial peace of mind.
Investors understandably remain nervous as year end approaches and we expect more volatility as concerns over the China trade deal, elevated market valuations and Brexit uncertainty. Other concerns include the inverted yield curve and rising interest rates that may stall any ‘Santa Claus’ rally this year.
At TriDelta Financial we come well prepared and deliver highly diversified portfolios that typically include a significant allocation to Alternative Investments that include global real estate and private debt.
Alternative investments are essentially any asset that is not a public stock, bond or cash security. Alternative investments often provide higher returns than traditional assets by focusing on less efficient or private asset classes, such as infrastructure and private equity.
They can generate stable, high levels of income by investing in private income oriented investments, such as real estate and private debt. Hedge Funds, such as Market Neutral Hedge Funds can also reduce volatility by using sophisticated hedging strategies.
We have long held the view that traditional equity and bond investment portfolios simply do not deliver consistent wealth accumulation. Portfolios require more diversification to ensure uncorrelated, multi-factor protection against downside risk. We manage our clients wealth in the same way pension funds do by strategically building portfolios that include a number of investment types and strategies.
We use stocks, bonds and preferred shares, but also include Alternative Investments such as global real estate, private debt solutions and hedge funds. Alternative investments compliment and add real value to portfolios by:
- Provide high income
- Diversification to reduce risk
- Lowers portfolio volatility
- Enhances returns
- Protects capital during market weakness
The major pension portfolios are constructed in a very similar way. Here is an Extract from the CPP Investment Board 2018 Annual Report on how they diversify and reduce portfolio risk:
Diversifying sources of return and risk – the Strategic Portfolio
As noted, we manage the Investment Portfolio to closely match its total absolute risk with that of the Reference Portfolio. But that does not mean that we simply hold 85% of the Fund in equities, or even in equity-like exposures. This would be imprudent, as the portfolio’s downside risk would be almost completely dominated by a single risk factor – that of the global public equity markets.
We can, however, build a portfolio with a superior return profile for a similar amount of risk by blending a variety of investments and strategies that fit CPPIB’s comparative advantages. Each of these strategies offers an attractive return-risk tradeoff of its own, and their addition clearly reduces the dependence on public equity markets.
First, we can invest in a higher proportion of bonds and add two major asset classes with stable and growing income: core real estate and infrastructure. By themselves, these lower the risk of the overall portfolio. This risk saving then allows us to add a wide variety of higher return-risk strategies, such as:
- Replacing publicly traded companies with privately held ones;
- Substituting some government bonds with higher-yielding credits in public and private debt;
- Judiciously using leverage in our real estate and infrastructure investments, along with increased investment in development projects;
- Increasing participation in selected emerging markets; and
- Making significant use of “pure alpha” investment strategies, which rely on the skills and experience of our managers.
CPP Investment Board 2018 Annual Report
To help put the current market turmoil into perspective, here are a few opinions from the large US investment firms:
JPMorgan Chase see the pessimism in equity and high-yield bond markets as overdone, as it sees only a 20% to 30% chance of a recession in 2019, with an increased probability in 2020.
The bank’s strategists, led by John Normand, analyzed equity valuations and credit spreads for high-yield bonds in the period leading up to past economic recessions.The team continues to favor stocks over corporate bonds in developed markets and takes a neutral view on emerging markets.“It is right to anchor portfolio strategy in a late-cycle framework that anticipates below-average returns into and through the next recession, but we note it is also excessively pessimistic to price so much downside now as equity and HG credit markets are doing,” the analysts wrote.
Goldman Sachs generally believes the bull market will continue in 2019, but it could get choppier as the year continues and investors begin to worry about a recession in 2020.
Here are some of the investment bank’s predictions for next year:The S&P 500 will rise 5 percent to 3,000 by year-end 2019 (after closing 2018 at 2,850).Investors should raise cash.Investors should be defensive.The market could be in for big trouble from tariffs.
Bank of America ML believes that “the long bull market cycle of excess stock and bond returns is expected to finally wind down next year, but not before one last hurrah.
Their Research team forecasts 2019 to deliver:
Modest gains in equities.
A weaker US dollar.
Emerging markets are cheap and under owned, they could be a big winner in 2019.
Higher levels of volatility.
A notable slowing in global earnings growth.
Morgan Stanley believes US stocks will underperform and Emerging Market stocks will outperform.
They see a number of macro changes as a result of slowing global growth in US and developed markets, rising rates, higher inflation and tighter policy. They believe these shifts will result in reversals of some key market sectors as follows:
US dollar strength will weaken once the Federal Reserve pauses on rate hikes.
US stocks outperformance will change to underperform.
US and European rates will converge.
Emerging markets have underperformed, but will retake the lead and outperform once China easing starts working.
Value portfolios will start outperforming growth.
Emerging market sovereigns will start outperforming US high yield bonds.
The TriDelta Approach:
TriDelta’s Alternative Assets Investment Committee focuses on putting the odds in our clients’ favour by focusing on:
- Proven managers with strong track records and disciplined investment philosophies
- Earning more stable returns
- Generating premium yield in less liquid investments
- Solutions that lower clients’ portfolio volatility
It is often difficult for investors to access these investments for three reasons:
- Alternative Investments are often restricted only to Accredited Investors (those with family income of $300,000+ or an investment portfolio of $1 million+)
- Many large Canadian financial firms simply do not make them available to their clients because alternative investments are often more complex and require a specialized skill set to analyze, review and select managers; and
- Many of the best alternative managers provide only restricted or limited access to their funds.
At TriDelta Investment Counsel, we solve all of these problems.
As an investment counsellor, we are able to offer these investments to all clients on a discretionary account basis. Alternative investments are a key element of our overall investment strategy.
Anton Tucker, CFP, FMA, CIM, FCSI
Executive VP and Portfolio Manager