Articles & Insights
Investment Executive: Focus on Products  |  01 August 2017

Active managers

As financial advisors pour billions of dollars into index-based ETFs, the use of active managers in portfolio construction increasingly comes under question. Read more >

Investment Executive: Focus on Products  |  15 June 2017

Forecasting market returns

There is an adage from Wall Street’s early days: “Valuation helps define risk, but it doesn’t help with timing.” Brokers learned eons ago that simply because a stock is cheap or expensive says nothing about its short-term price direction. Read more >

Investment Executive: Focus on Products  |  15 February 2017

Curb your enthusiasm

Several academic studies have determined that investors’ future return expectations are heavily influenced by recent performance. With the Canadian stock market delivering an exceptional 21.2% in 2016 and the U.S. market up 17.4% annually over the past three years, many investors are likely ratcheting up their return expectations. Read more >

Investment Executive: Focus on Products  |  15 January 2017

Not dead yet

In the U.S., actively managed domestic equity mutual funds have suffered nine years of consecutive outflows as investors have poured money into index domestic equity mutual funds and ETFs. The contrast is glaring – from 2007-15, US$835 billion exited actively managed domestic equity mutual funds while $1.2 trillion flooded into index domestic equity mutual funds and ETFs. Read more >

Investment Executive: Focus on Products  |  01 November 2016

Benefits of concentration

Proponents of actively managed, concentrated portfolios will be heartened by the results of a study published recently in the Financial Analyst’s Journal.

The authors, Eitan Goldman, Zhenzhen Sun and Xiyu (Thomas) Zhou, analyzed the returns and portfolio concentration of 3,895 actively managed U.S. equity mutual funds from 1990-2012. They found that funds with a higher level of portfolio concentration within sectors display better performance. Read more >

Investment Executive: Focus on Products  |  15 May 2016

Sell in May and go away

Calendar anomalies have been studied by financial academics and practitioners for decades. These irregular stock return patterns include the January Effect, the Holiday Effect, the Turn of the Month Effect and the weekend Effect. Every spring, one such anomaly – Sell in May and Go Away, also known as the Halloween Effect – is a recurring topic in the financial press.  Read more >

Investment Executive: Focus on Products  |  01 April 2016

Impact of negative rates

A tour of eurozone government bond exchange-traded funds (ETFs) provides a glimpse of the negative interest rate challenge that may confront Canadian investors within the next few years. As of March 9, iShares Euro Government Bond Zero- to One- Year UCITS ETF, managed by BlackRock Advisors (U.K.) Ltd., sported a negative yield to maturity (YTM) of minus 0.25%, while the one- to three-year and the three- to five-year versions had YTMs of minus 0.8% and minus 0.5%, respectively. Read more >

Investment Executive: Focus on Products  |  15 February 2016

Risk and reward

The current yield to maturity (YTM) of a default-free government bond is a reasonable estimate of its future expected return. Studies have found that the correlation between the beginning YTM and the subsequent realized return on 10-year US treasuries is in the 0.9 range. As interest rates change, the gain or loss on reinvestment income is offset by roughly the loss or gain on the principal value. Unfortunately, Canadian federal government bonds hit record lows in mid-January.  Read more >

Investment Executive: Focus on Products  |  15 January 2016

Beating the market

Since the 1960’s, financial theorists have been building models that explain stock returns as a function of their risk exposure. Originally, the capital-asset pricing model focused on a single factor – market exposure – as the driver of returns. By the 1970s, however, financial theorists were proposing an array of factors – fundamental, macroeconomic and statistical – as the determinants of expected returns. Read more >

Investment Executive: Focus on Products  |  01 December 2015

Active management: Three key criteria for stellar performance

The double-digit growth of index-based exchange-traded fund (ETF) assets under management (AUM) globally has outpaced that of actively managed portfolios. In 2014, Canadian ETF AUM increased by 21%, a growth rate that is almost 50% higher than that of traditional mutual fund AUM. Read more >

Investment Executive: Focus on Products  |  01 December 2014

Small-cap premium?

Academic research in the U.S. has shown that in addition to market risk, certain dimensions of the stock market or “factors,” including company size, explain stock returns. Over long periods of time, small-capitalization stocks, on average, have higher returns than the stocks of large companies and, hence, exhibit a size premium. Read more >

Investment Executive: Focus on Products  |  01 November 2014

The equal-weighting option

Financial advisors in search of lower-cost equity funds with higher long-term return potential might consider exchange-traded funds (ETFs) that strive to replicate equal-weight indices. Read more >

Investment Executive: Focus on Products  |  01 October 2014

A hedge fund alternative

Savvy financial advisors know that a buoyant stock market doesn’t last forever and, consequently, maintain suitable risk profiles in their clients’ portfolios. The challenge today is that the traditional anchors of stability for portfolios – investment-grade bonds – offer paltry yields and have heightened interest rate risk. Hedge funds, although no panacea, are an option because of their lower volatility and drawdown relative to stocks. Hedge funds, however, have drawbacks. Read more >

Investment Executive: Focus on Products  |  01 August 2014

Searching for ERP

One of the tenets of modern finance is that risk and return are inextricably related as investors demand a premium (or excess return) for risking their capital. In respect to stocks, this excess return is referred to as the “equity risk premium” (ERP) and is measured as the difference in return between that of a broad stock market index and of high-quality government debt, such as treasury bills. Read more >

Investment Executive: Focus on Products  |  01 April 2014

Portfolio rebalancing

With expected returns compressed by low interest rates and above-average stock market valuations, financial advisors are challenged in helping their clients achieve their retirement goals. Even before management costs, the numbers seem daunting. Read more >

Investment Executive: Focus on Products  |  15 January 2014

Measuring hedge funds

Hedge funds often are treated as an asset class, but in actuality they’re a heterogeneous assortment of distinct investment strategies that invest in various underlying asset classes ranging from bonds to stocks to commodities. Read more >

Investment Executive: Focus on Products  |  01 December 2013

Better yield, higher risk

It’s easy to understand the appeal of emerging-markets bonds. With the DEX universe bond index in Canada yielding 2.7% as of Oct. 31, the 5.6% yield of emerging-markets bonds – as measured by the J.P. Morgan EMBI global diversified index C$-hedged (JPMEMBI) – is attractive. However, financial advisors need to look beyond yield to assess the risk characteristics of this asset class before including it in clients’ portfolios. Read more >

Investment Executive Interview  |  15 November 2013

Should you ignore market forecasts?

Michael Nairne discusses the efficacy of forecasting for financial markets. He explains which measures do and do not work, and how to address client requests for predictable income. Nairne spoke with Dan Richards of clientinsights.ca at the TMX Broadcast Centre in Toronto.  Link to video on Investment Executive >

Investment Executive: Focus on Products  |  01 November 2013

Time to ditch bonds?

With investment-grade bonds in the red this year and yields at dismal levels, many financial advisors are considering reducing their clients’ allocations to this asset class. But before acting, you should consider the important role that bonds play in risk mitigation within a balanced portfolio. Read more >

Investment Executive: Focus on Products  |  01 October 2013

Emerging markets’ value

Emerging markets are an increasingly important component of global markets. Consisting in 1988 of 10 countries that comprised only 1% of the world’s stock market capitalization, emerging markets have expanded to include 21 countries comprising approximately 12% of the total market cap of the MSCI all-country world index.   Read more >

Investment Executive: Focus on Products  |  01 August 2013

Measures of quality

Ongoing research into the fundamental drivers of stock returns continues to identify opportunities for outperformance. Robert Novy-Marx recently published an article in the Journal of Financial Economics, entitled “The Other Side of Value: The Gross Profitability Premium,” which has created a stir in both academia and the passive investing world. Read more >

Investment Executive: Focus on Products  |  15 June 2013

The next wave of ETFs

There is an evolution underway in the exchange-traded funds (ETFs) space that allows financial advisors to construct better portfolios for their clients.

ETFs originally were designed to replicate the returns of well-known, market capitalization-weighted indices such as the S&P 500 composite index. Today, the index methodologies that underlie certain ETF portfolios have advanced in three significant ways to create the potential for superior risk-adjusted returns or even market-beating performance. Read more >

Investment Executive Interview  |  29 April 2013

The perils of fragmentation for HNW clients

Joanne Swystun and Michael Nairne explain how HNW investors often have multiple managers and therefore no central CIO to manage tax efficiencies, overall portfolio strategy and asset management. They spoke with Dan Richards, President, Client Insights, at the TMX Broadcast Centre in Toronto and gave pragmatic tips on how to ensure HNW clients steer clear of fragmentation and build a cohesive management strategy. Link to video on Investment Executive >

Investment Executive: Focus on Products  |  15 April 2013

Gaining momentum

Selecting equity investments that have the potential to outpace the overall market is challenging for financial advisors. Based on an analysis by my firm, Tacita Capital Inc. of Toronto, one strategy with the potential to do that is using momentum securities. Read more >

Investment Executive: Focus on Products  |  15 February 2013

Hedge funds lag stocks

Canadian hedge funds lost 4.7% in 2012, as measured by the asset-weighted Scotiabank Canadian hedge fund index (SCHFI), which tracks the 70 domestic hedge funds that constitute the bulk of the sector in Canada. In comparison, the S&P/TSX composite index returned 7.2%. Read more >

Investment Executive: Focus on Products  |  15 January 2013

Low-cost portfolios

Just when most financial advisors have become familiar with exchanged-trade funds (ETFs), they will have to master a new nomenclature. ETFs are now part of a category of what is known as “exchange-traded products” (ETPs). Read more >

Investment Executive  |  15 December 2012

Assessing bond risks

Quality bonds are the investment of choice today. In Canada, equity mutual funds are in net redemption almost every month while bond funds enjoy capital inflows. Investment-grade bonds have clobbered almost every major asset class over the past five years. Read more >

Investment Executive  |  15 November 2012

Fee competition heats up

There is a clash of the titans underway that is benefiting both financial advisors and their clients.  The new Canadian division of Vanguard Group Inc., with more than US$2 trillion in assets under management (AUM), is challenging the Canadian subsidiary of BlackRock Inc., which handles more than US$3.5 trillion in AUM, in the fast-growing exchange-traded fund (ETF) sector. Read more > 

Investment Executive  |  15 October 2012

The convertible option

As the search for yield intensifies, convertible bonds are receiving attention as an asset class that offers a unique blend of income, downside protection and opportunity.

To assess this asset class’s long-term performance, the research team at Tacita Capital Inc. spliced the BofA Merrill Lynch U.S. convertible bonds all qualities index (ML index), available since January 1988, with the Ibbotson Associates (IA) monthly convertible bond index, available since January 1973. Canada lacks a similarly comprehensive index. Read more >

Investment Executive  |  15 July 2012

Options for income?

TODAY’S PALTRY INTEREST rates have financial advisors searching for investments that offer enhanced income. One strategy is covered call writing – selling call option contracts on a stock or basket of stocks for premium income while owning an equivalent amount of the underlying stock(s). Read more > 

Investment Executive  |  15 February 2012

Tactics for boosting yield

Today’s abysmally low interest rates and incredible market volatility have sent many financial advisors on the hunt for yield in a variety of fixed-income and equities investment vehicles. The pursuit of higher yield, however, can easily introduce new risks into a portfolio that are masked until changing economic or monetary conditions trigger their appearance. Read more > 

Investment Executive  |  15 January 2012

Fixed-income arbitrage

In today’s environment, some financial advisors have undoubtedly been attracted to the high yields being offered by some fixed-income hedge funds. As fixed-income arbitrage strategies can possess unforeseen risks, the portfolio research team at my firm, Tacita Capital Inc. of Toronto, has delved into their performance. Read more >

Investment Executive  |  15 December 2011

Corporates’ rich returns

With interest rates on government bonds at levels not seen since the Second World War, many financial advisors are assessing investment-grade and high-yield corporate bonds for their clients’ portfolios. In turn, the research team at Tacita Capital Inc. has reviewed research on corporate-bond performance and analyzed several bond indices.
Read more > 

Investment Executive  |  15 November 2011

Income with low volatility

Today’s turbulent markets and dismally low interest rates have triggered a search for ways to moderate portfolio volatility without sacrificing return. One candidate is equity long/short funds. To obtain a picture of this strategy’s performance, the portfolio research team at Tacita Capital Inc. has reviewed recent research on both U.S. and Canadian hedge fund performance and analyzed several U.S. hedge fund indices. Read more >

Investment Executive  |  15 October 2011

Looking for income

With interest rates at levels not seen since the Second World War and stock prices in the red, many financial advisors are assessing ways to improve the income and risk-adjusted return potential of their clients’ portfolios. Read more >

Investment Executive  |  15 September 2011

Gold shares vs bullion

With gold share prices badly lagging gold bullion prices, many financial advisors are wondering about their relative merits. To address this issue, my firm, Tacita Capital Inc., analyzed the Canadian-dollar returns of gold shares and bullion. To get a long-term picture of share performance, we spliced the S&P/TSX global gold index, available since October 2000, with the S&P/TSX gold index and the now discontinued TSX gold/silver index. Read more >

Investment Executive  |  15 June 2011

Managed futures strategies

Financial advisors in search of ways to improve their clients’ portfolio diversification should consider managed futures. These strategies provide direct exposure to futures contracts on financial assets such as stocks, government bonds and currencies, as well as on physical commodities such as energy, agricultural, industrial and precious metals, and soft commodities. Read more > 

Investment Executive  |  15 April 2011

Small-cap caution

Financial advisors who invested clients’ funds in Canadian small-cap energy and resources stocks over the past decade have to be smiling. The BMO Nesbitt Burns small-cap energy and resources indices had annualized returns of 18.1% and 27.5%, respectively, from Jan. 1, 2001, through Feb. 28, 2011. Read more >

Investment Executive  |  15 February 2011

Boosting client income

With low interest rates dampening returns from bonds, many financial advisors are using stocks and mutual funds with high dividend yields to bolster income returns for their clients. Based on an analysis of high-dividend-yield stock returns conducted by my firm, Tacita Capital Inc., this can be a wise move for the right clients. Read more >

Investment Executive  |  15 December 2010

Model role for gold

The plummeting U.S. dollar and rising inflation concerns as a result of more quantitative easing in the U.S. have highlighted gold shares as a portfolio option. Read more >

Investment Executive  |  15 November 2010

The explosion of ETFs

Exchange-traded funds represent the greatest advance in managed money for individual investors since the launch of the modern mutual fund in 1928. ETFs allow the construction of highly diversified, cost- and tax-effective portfolios composed of diverse asset classes. Read more > 

Investment Executive  |  15 October 2010

Emerging markets bonds an option

With interest rates having plummeted to new lows, it’s challenging for financial advisors to find investments that offer higher yields. Read more > 

Investment Executive  |  15 September 2010

Good performance not an anomaly

As the global financial crisis continued to take its toll last year, world economic output declined by 2%. Yet gross domestic product grew by 4.5% in the Asia-Pacific region, excluding Japan, bolstered by strong GDP growth in China and India. Read more >

Investment Executive  |  15 July 2010

Is Europe the place to be?

The threat of a bond default by Greece sent tremors through stock markets in May as investors reacted to the prospect of a renewed credit crisis centred on sovereign debt, diminished global growth and even the possible breakup of the European Union. Read more >

Investment Executive  |  15 July 2010

Talking to your clients about risk

Among the most important types of guidance good financial advisors offer is in helping their clients make the trade-off between risk and return that is right for them. Read more > 

Investment Executive  |  15 June 2010

The investment cachet of cash

Improving employment, reduced capacity overhang and a bubbly residential real estate market have dramatically increased the odds that the Bank of Canada will initiate a new rising interest rate cycle. Read more >

Investment Executive  |  15 March 2010

Going global reduces volatility

The superior performance of the Canadian stock market relative to its global counterparts over the past decade has left some financial advisors doubting the wisdom of global equities diversification. Read more >

Investment Executive  |  15 February 2010

Need diversification? Look to REITS

Financial advisors looking to enhance the diversification of their clients’ portfolios need to consider real estate investment trusts. Read more >

Investment Executive  |  15 January 2010

The skinny on gold

As fears of inflation and escalating government debt mount, gold is being highlighted as an asset that can hedge these risks. To assess the portfolio role of gold, my firm, Tacita Capital Inc. of Toronto, analyzed its long-term returns and volatility (in Canadian dollars), its correlation to inflation and surveyed the current product environment. Read more >

Investment Executive  |  15 November 2009

A winning portfolio

Building a portfolio that beats the broad market indices over the long run is a daunting task for advisors. One asset class that forms the foundation of any such portfolio is Canadian value stocks, according to analysis by Toronto-based Tacita Capital Inc. Read more > 

Investment Executive  |  15 October 2009

U.S. small caps can boost returns

With returns in the past decade so dismal, advisors need to examine options to enhance long-term portfolio performance. Read more >

Investment Executive  |  14 October 2009

Great reasons for going global

Two decades ago, international investing was in vogue. The stunning growth of Japan and the ongoing expansion of the European Union had created a compelling investment thesis. Read more > 

Investment Executive  |  15 August 2009

Diversifying client portfolios

With the painful losses of the recent bear market still fresh, many advisors are examining their investment strategies to improve the diversification in their clients’ portfolios. Read more >

Investment Executive  |  15 July 2009

High-yield bonds raise yellow flags

With long-term capital appreciation numbers in the red and stocks facing uncertain growth prospects, many advisors are exploring income-oriented options in the hope of bolstering future performance. Read more > 

Investment Executive  |  15 March 2009

Does hedging mean better returns

The stunning appreciation of the Canadian dollar from a low of US62¢ in January 2002 to a 13-decade high of US$1.09 in November 2007 dramatically undercut U.S. equity returns. Read more >