In one corner of the investment world: the traditionalists; in the other, the alternatives.
A survey of 191 investment professionals from February 14, 2023 to April 7of this year showed a mounting interest in alternative investments among professionals, at 28%, predating the pandemic, according to thestreet.com.
"As traditional stock and bond asset classes suffered from losses and volatility in 2022, it's not surprising that interest in alternative investments increased among financial professionals. However, overall use of alternatives remains relatively low,” 2023 FPA President James Lee, CFP, CRPC, AIF, said in a press release.
While alternative investments are catching the attention of some financial advisers, the survey highlighted that over 90 percent of investment professionals currently use or recommend exchange-traded funds (ETFs).
Unlike traditional assets, of course, alternative investments aren’t subject to US Securities and Exchange Commission regulatory requirements, according to coresignal.com. That’s significant since it translates in further room for speculative investment practices.
There’s a scant link between alternative assets and the stock market – not to mention other conventional investments, according to coresignal.com. Consequently, they’re not required to react to market conditions as they shift. For conventional securities, it’s a different story.
Alternative investments, fueled by high fees and minimums, typically are accessible to institutional investors exclusively.
Volatility’s not your game? You’re sure now?
Well then, to tamp down volatility in a portfolio – or generate steady income -- fixed income assets are popular alternatives to dividend stocks, according to money-usnews.com. And the assets pay out a defined stream of income.
It typically assumes the form of bonds, which, essentially, are IOUs investors can reach into their wallet for from a number of sources, like, for example, governments and corporations.
That said, bond investing isn’t as easy as one-two-….you get the ides. Instead, since individual bonds are traded over the counter and mucho calculation is required to price correctly, it can be complex.
"Given the higher risks and costs associated with portfolios of individual bonds, and the time they take to manage, most investors are better served by low-cost mutual funds and exchange-traded funds, or ETFs," said Chris Tidmore, senior manager at Vanguard's Investment Advisory Research Center in Wayne, Pennsylvania. "This is particularly true in the case of municipal and corporate bonds, which are less liquid and harder to purchase than Treasury bonds."
Meantime, this for U.S. investors in exchange traded funds: you might want to mull over taking the splash into medium-term fixed income ETFs. according to marketwatch.com. Why, you might ask? They could not only dispense “attractive carry,” they also could translate into a “buffer” against the volatile returns in the U.S. equity market. That’s in light of the fact that the Fed’s path toward interest rate hiking’s immersed in a lack of clarity, Gargi Chaudhuri, BlackRock’s head of iShares investment strategy for the Americas, said.
Investors are piling into the investment-grade market at a record rate due to higher yields and concerns over riskier debt. A total of $19 billion has been poured into funds that buy investment-grade corporate debt since the start of 2023. That marks the most ever at this point in the year, according to data from fund flow tracker EPFR. The money pouring into the asset class underscores an eagerness among investors to buy historically high yields provided by safer corporate debt after years of investing in riskier debt in search of returns. According to Matt Mish, head of credit strategy at UBS, “People basically think that fixed income, in general, looks a lot more attractive than it has in prior years. The euphoria around investment grade is basically more broadly this euphoria around yields. At least relative to last year and really relative to most of the last decade, [high-grade corporate debt] is offering yields that are considerably higher.” For instance, average US investment grade yields have jumped to 5.45% from 3.1% a year ago. The soaring yields come as a result of the broad sell-off in fixed income over the past year as the Federal Reserve rapidly lifted interest rates to help tame sky-high inflation.
Finsum: Investors are piling into investment-grade bond funds due to historically high yields on safer debt after years of investing in riskier debt in search of returns.
If you’re looking to hedge your client’s portfolio from inflation, consider investment-grade ETFs. That is according to American Century Investments client portfolio manager Balaji Venkataraman. He spoke at the recent ETF Exchange conference in Miami Beach and noted how the Fed’s moves played a role in the dismal performance of bonds last year. However, he also added that investors may see increased value in fixed-income vehicles this year. He stated, “The rate risk has subsided meaningfully because the fixed income market tends to price in where the Fed is going well before the Fed gets there. And that’s why we’ve seen a decline in yields here today.” Venkataraman also noted that investment-grade bonds, which are a debt of higher-grade securities, could be critical investments during periods of heightened inflation, as yields begin to fall in response to the Fed easing rates. He stated, “The beauty of fixed income in this environment, if the Fed eventually does [come to] its peak in terms of the terminal rate, bond yields should probably continue to come down.” While bonds saw their worst year on record last year, fixed-income ETFs continued to see inflows. That trend continued into this year, as bond funds saw $20.8 billion in inflows in January, the most of any asset class last month, according to ETF.com data.
Finsum:According to American Century Investments client portfolio manager Balaji Venkataraman, investors should consider investment grade bond ETFs during periods of heightened inflation, as yields begin to fall in response to the Fed easing rates.
Morgan Stanley recently announced the launch of an exchange-traded fund platform with the listing of six Calvert ETFs on NYSE Arca, including an actively managed fixed-income ETF. The Calvert Ultra-Short Investment Grade ETF (CVSB) will focus on investment-grade debt issuers. Managers Eric Jesionowski and Brian S. Ellis seek to maximize income, to the extent consistent with the preservation of capital, through investment in short-term bonds and income-producing securities. Investors will gain diversified short-term fixed-income exposure to an actively managed portfolio of high-quality bonds of issuers that Calvert believes are demonstrating effective management of key ESG risks and opportunities. The other five ETFs include four indexed ESG equity strategies and an active ESG strategy. The funds include the Calvert US Large-Cap Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Index ETF (CDEI), the Calvert US Large-Cap Core Responsible Index ETF (CVLC), the Calvert International Responsible Index ETF (CVIE), the Calvert US-Mid Cap Core Responsible Index ETF (CVMC), and the Calvert US Select Equity ETF (CVSE). As part of the announcement, Dan Simkowitz, head of Morgan Stanley Investment Management, said the following in a statement. “This launch is the first step in MSIM’s development of a robust ETF platform that supports products across our businesses, asset classes, jurisdictions, and brands.”
Finsum:Morgan Stanley announced the launch of an ETF platform and the listing of six Calvert ETFs, including an actively managed ultra-short investment grade ETF.
After a tough year for fixed income, many bond strategists are expecting 2023 to be a great year for bonds. But where should advisors and investors look to invest? In an interview with Yahoo Finance Live, PIMCO Managing Director and Portfolio Manager Sonali Pier offered her perspective on where the sweet spot will be for bonds this year. She believes that despite potential volatility, “there’s a lot of room now for income-producing assets.” She stated, that “a sweet spot may be those Triple Bs within investment grade, for example, where dollar prices have come down a lot as a result of the interest rates rising as well as credit spreads having widened.” In the interview, she also talked about what areas of the corporate bond market to avoid. Her firm is most concerned with areas where there are “low multiples on businesses, low margins, high cyclicality, where it's very difficult to weather a storm like a recession when you have those types of things against you as well as still inflation as an impact.” She mentioned industries such as retail, autos, and wire lines to avoid that are seeing declines due to a “shift in investor demand as well as disruption from the supply chain.”
Finsum:PIMCO portfolio manager Sonali Pier believes that a sweet spot for bonds this year may be triple Bs within investment grade while avoiding industries such as retail, autos, and wire lines.