Articles

This alternative to stocks and bonds is gaining a following among wealthy investors

0 Comments

Ted Rechtshaffen: If your portfolio is 100% in publicly traded investments, know that most pension plans think you’re making a mistake

I hear a lot of the following these days:

“The stock market is too volatile and there is a recession coming. I am nervous about stocks.”

“With interest rates so low, I will lose money owning bonds after tax and inflation.”

“Preferred shares have not performed very well over the past few years so I don’t want those.”

What often comes next is a question similar to, “If I don’t want to put money into those, do you have anything else you might recommend?”

As it turns out, we do have a lot that we would recommend, and it generally comes under the category of “alternative investments,” which are not publicly traded on markets. Most of the investments that we have in this area have been providing steady returns in the six per cent to 10 per cent range annually over the past several years.

Before you think that these are some strange and extreme types of investments, it is worth noting that according to Benefits Canada, almost 40 per cent of Canadian pension plans are now invested in alternative investments. The plan managers are doing this for all of the reasons raised in the opening three quotes. They are worried about volatility and risk-adjusted returns from stocks. They are especially concerned that in a low interest rate world, the plans can’t generate the required returns with only traditional conservative government or high-quality corporate bonds.

While alternative investments include infrastructure, commodities and private equity, much of our investment focus is in the areas of private debt and real estate. In a nutshell, private debt is lending that is not done by traditional banks and does not include bonds traded on public markets. Ever since 2008, the banking landscape has changed and their lending strategy narrowed. This left many companies and individuals who required debt to look for alternative sources of funds. Over the past decade, private debt has grown over four-fold and is now close to US$1 trillion in assets globally, according to the alternative credit council. Our real estate investments, meanwhile, tend to be focused on managers that lend to developers and building owners and who have a global reach.

To help understand the increase in interest in alternative investments, and why the returns are higher than most publicly traded bonds, here are some examples of how private debt works. In some cases, the borrowers can be higher risk than traditional banks are comfortable with, but often the borrowers fall into a variety of buckets that banks can’t or won’t service for other reasons.

Examples include a business that requires a loan to close an acquisition. The business may be a perfect candidate for a loan but requires the funds in 3 weeks, while a traditional bank may take 3 to 6 months to approve it. Eventually the company may shift its borrowing to a bank at lower rates, but in the short term, the company is fine paying a high interest rate for the benefit of having the financing completed quickly. In other cases, a company may be in an industry that a bank may not lend to for reputational reasons, but which might otherwise be a great candidate for lending. For personal borrowers, sometimes they are business owners with a lot of assets and good credit, but low personal taxable income. A bank may not give them a mortgage but a mortgage investment corporation may think they are a great loan candidate, especially if they are only lending them 70 per cent of the value of their house, and the house is the first collateral on the loan.

In all of these cases, the borrowing rates would be higher, and often could be anywhere from six per cent to 20 per cent depending on the situation. It is these borrowing rates, along with strong risk management practices and full collateral that can provide steady returns at rates much higher than public bonds. These represent just a few examples of the many situations where someone is willing to borrow at high rates, for the ability to get the lending that they require.

The benefits to the investor are significant. First, they provide investment diversification and very low connection or correlation to the stock market. Second, over the past five years (as many funds were not around prior to this), returns have been quite steady with very low downside volatility. Having said that, a full investment cycle of 10 to 20 years would probably provide a little better test. And third, returns are often relatively high, with many funds providing returns in the six per cent to ten per cent range.

The main negative to private debt investments is that they are not very liquid. While publicly traded securities are often easily sold daily, many private debt investments might require anywhere from 30 days to a full year to redeem. This is one of the main reasons why private debt might only be one component of an overall portfolio. Because the risks on lending are often only as strong as the operational skill of the manager and the security against the loan, it is important to be able to assess whether any particular manager has top level skills to minimize the risk of losses.

While every person is different, in the 2019 investing world, we often have 10 per cent to 35 per cent of a clients’ overall portfolio invested in a diversified mix of private debt and other alternative investments. If your portfolio is 100 per cent invested in publicly traded investments, it is worth noting that many wealthy individuals and most pension plans believe that you are making a mistake. Now may be the time to consider looking beyond traditional investments to meet your long-term goals.

Reproduced from The Financial Post – November 18, 2019.

Ted Rechtshaffen
Written By:
Ted Rechtshaffen, MBA, CFP
President and CEO
tedr@tridelta.ca
(416) 733-3292 x 221

The Financial Media Can Be Harmful to Your Wealth

0 Comments

“Success in investing doesn’t correlate with I.Q…. Once you have ordinary intelligence, what you need is the temperament to control the urges that get other people into trouble in investing.”

– Warren Buffet

As Warren Buffet and countless other investment gurus have observed, one of the most important factors for being a successful investor is the ability to control your emotions. While there are numerous analytical tools that can be used to assess the quality, value, cash flow and potential future returns of an investment, they are often trumped in decision making by an investor’s emotions, particularly greed and fear.

Fear of loss is by far the more powerful of the two emotions. In fact, behavioural economists have found in multiple studies that investors view the pain associated with losses as twice as emotionally powerful as the joy experienced from gains. When equity markets drop, investors become more and more risk averse as a result. The aversion is heightened if the drops are meaningful (5%+) and if they happen over a short time period.

The media, while an excellent source for timely details on the economy and company specific information, is also known to sensationalize stories that play on an investor’s emotions. By dramatizing a story, the news source can attain a much larger audience, meaning more clicks, views and interest. Unfortunately, these stirring stories can lead investors to become more emotional and to make bad investment decisions.

During rising markets, stories are often tilted positively to build on an investor’s greed and desire for quick wealth. During down or volatile markets, stories tend to focus on risks and negative factors that play upon investor’s fears. These fears often can lead investors to react by indiscriminately selling their portfolio holdings, regardless of that investor’s goals, needs or even whether the investment is of good quality, offers attractive value or needed income. This indiscriminate selling can result in lower long-term returns and the risk that the investors do not reach their retirement goals.

One recent example was an article on Bloomberg’s website on March 8, 2018 titled “JP Morgan Co-President Sees Possible 40% Correction in Equity Markets”. While the title was factual, it only told part of the story and in this case, the part it did not tell was far more important.

Daniel Pinto, the co-president of JPMorgan stated that within the next 2-3 years, there is likely to be a deep correction in US equity markets of 20-40%, so the headline is factual, but it is nuanced to indicate that the correction is imminent or at least likely to occur in the near-term, not in 2-3 years AND the headline uses the most extreme scenario of a 40% correction vs. the range of 20%-40%. The other element the headline does not include is Pinto’s short-term views, as JPMorgan has generally been positive on the short to medium term prospects for equity markets, i.e. JPMorgan anticipates that the market will rise further prior to a correction. For example, if Pinto sees the market going up 20% in the next two years prior to a correction and the market then drops 20%, the investor’s return is closer to 0% (including dividends earned). A near zero percent return is likely insufficient to meet most investors’ near-term goals, but that is a lot less scary than losing perhaps 40% of their current wealth.

While the headline could incite fear in investors, a more thorough reading of the facts presented in the article should instead yield some caution and reflection. The article highlights that we are in the latter stages of a bull market and due to the low volatility and strong performance of the equity market in late 2016 – early 2018, many investors’ expectations have become too high. During this later stage of a rally, investors should take a breath and reflect to see if their portfolios are in line with their target asset allocations and risk tolerance. It is also a good time for investors to meet with a financial professional to review their goals, cash flow needs, taxes, risk tolerance, time horizon and unique circumstances to create a customized and detailed financial plan and investment policy statement. Investors with formal financial plans and investment policy statements are more likely to stick to those plans and be less swayed by emotions.

Reading a full financial article, not just the headlines, is a good way to uncover useful information for investing. Coupled with a comprehensive financial plan, thoughtfully reading full articles (not just the headlines), is a proven way to control your emotions and to protect your wealth.

Lorne Zeiler
Written By:
Lorne Zeiler, MBA, CFA
VP, Wealth Advisor
lorne@tridelta.ca
416-733-3292 x225

Lorne Zeiler on BNN’s The Street – March 21, 2018

0 Comments

Lorne Zeiler, VP, Portfolio Manager and Wealth Advisor, TriDelta Investment Counsel, was the guest co-host on BNN’s The Street on Wednesday, March 21st discussing the following:

Income Investing Strategies in the Current Environment

Given the expectations of rising interest rates and renewed market volatility a traditional bond or dividend focused portfolio may be incapable of generating sufficient income at low volatility needed by investors. Lorne Zeiler, Portfolio Manager, discusses how to design a stable, income producing portfolio in this environment on BNN’s the Street.
Click here to view

Keeping Calm and Profiting from Volatile Markets

When markets drop significantly in short periods investors often let emotions take over and make bad investment decisions. Lorne Zeiler, Portfolio Manager, discusses how to take emotions out of investing by designing a stable, diversified portfolio, including alternative assets, on BNN’s the Street.
Click here to view

Lorne Zeiler
Written By:
Lorne Zeiler, MBA, CFA
VP, Wealth Advisor
lorne@tridelta.ca
416-733-3292 x225

Lorne Zeiler on BNN’s Market Call, February 7, 2018

0 Comments

Lorne Zeiler, VP, Portfolio Manager and Wealth Advisor, TriDelta Financial, was the guest on Market Call last night (February 7, 2018).

Below is a link to Lorne’s top picks, market commentary and past picks

Click here to view

Lorne Zeiler
Written By:
Lorne Zeiler, MBA, CFA
VP, Wealth Advisor
lorne@tridelta.ca
416-733-3292 x225

Lorne Zeiler on BNN’s ‘The Street’, Jan.12, 2018 – TriDelta Fixed Income Fund

0 Comments

Lorne Zeiler, VP, Portfolio Manager and Wealth Advisor, TriDelta Investment Counsel, was the guest co-host on BNN’s The Street on Friday January 12th discussing the following:

TriDelta Fixed Income Fund Generates 6.5% Return in 2017 (vs. Index return of 2.5%)

The TriDelta Fixed Income Fund generated a 6.5% Return in 2017 (vs. 2.5% for the index). Lorne Zeiler, Portfolio Manager, discussed the benefits of active management in fixed income investing and income alternatives on BNN’s the Street this morning.
Click here to view

Lorne Zeiler
Written By:
Lorne Zeiler, MBA, CFA
VP, Wealth Advisor
lorne@tridelta.ca
416-733-3292 x225

Lorne Zeiler on BNN’s ‘The Street’, Jan.12, 2018 – TriDelta Financial’s 2018 Market Outlook

0 Comments

Lorne Zeiler, VP, Portfolio Manager and Wealth Advisor, TriDelta Investment Counsel, was the guest co-host on BNN’s The Street on Friday January 12th discussing the following:

TriDelta Financial’s 2018 Market Outlook.

While Equity valuations are quite high (particularly in the United States), we still feel there is more room for the Bull market to run in the short-term, but that the best opportunities may be in Emerging Markets, Europe and Japan. Lorne Zeiler, Portfolio Manager, discusses our views this morning on BNN.
Click here to view

Lorne Zeiler
Written By:
Lorne Zeiler, MBA, CFA
VP, Wealth Advisor
lorne@tridelta.ca
416-733-3292 x225
↓