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Insurance & Investments

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Henry So

Senior Investment Product Manager
Empire Life Investments Inc.
Gestionnaire principal, Produits de placement
Placements Empire Vie

Recent Posts

Returning from vacation

Investment Views, Investments

It’s the time of the year when many Canadians have escaped the great white north’s winter misery and travelled to some far-off tropical destination for some needed rest and relaxation. It’s an escape not only from the harsh Canadian winter but also the real world of work and responsibilities. How we wish that state of paradise could last forever. Perhaps that’s why a return to reality is so difficult to deal with. 

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Performance Capture Ratios

Investments, Investment Views

There are many statistical measures available to help evaluate an investment’s performance. Arguably, investors are less sensitive to performance when markets are rising and more sensitive when the markets are falling. Therefore, a measure that separately analyses performance into these two buckets may be a useful component of an investor’s due diligence process.

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The Quality Factor

Investments, Investment Views

2016 was a breakout year for Canadian equities. After trailing the US stock market in the preceding five calendar years, the S&P/TSX Composite bounced back in 2016 with a gain of 21.1%, compared to a gain of 8.6% for the S&P 500 (including currency effects) - great news for your Canadian equity investments.

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Downside Protection Applications

Investments, Investment Views

Asset Allocation

The conventional method to reduce risk in a balanced portfolio involves decreasing the portfolio’s riskier asset class, which for most investors is likely the equity allocation. For example, shifting from 55% equities and 45% bonds to 30% equities and 70% bonds. The following graphic illustrates this as the move to the “lower risk benchmark portfolio”.

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Yield Verboten

Investments, Investment Views

Global bond yields have been on a multi-decade decline; therefore, it should be no surprise that today’s yields are at or close to historically low levels. Chart #1 shows the extent of this decline for the 10 year Government of Canada (“GoC”) and U.S. Treasury (“UST”) bonds. From December 1990 to June 2016, the GoC yield started the period at 10.3%, averaged 5.1%, and closed at a mere 1.06%. Over the same period, the UST yield started at 8.4%, averaged 4.8%, and closed at a mere 1.5%.

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Evaluating Downside Protection

Investments, Investment Views

Semi-deviation (also called downside deviation) is a variation of the more commonly used metric, standard deviation. Both measures track the historic variability of returns around an investment’s average return, however, semi-deviation only considers those returns that fall below the investment’s average. A lower semi-deviation indicates an investment with lower downside risk.

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Downside Protection Strategies

Investments, Investment Views

My last blog discussed the importance of downside protection, specifically looking at the asymmetry of gains and losses, and poor historical investor behaviour. This blog will investigate some strategies investors can implement to potentially protect their portfolio from significant losses in down markets, while still allowing them to participate in rising markets.

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Importance of Downside Protection

Investments, Investment Views

Markets go up and markets go down. That’s the nature of investing in stocks and bonds, whether directly or indirectly through investment funds. Investors generally like upside volatility (when markets go up), but are much less tolerable towards downside volatility (when markets go down). Implementing downside protection strategies regardless of current market conditions can help reduce volatility when markets do go down, thereby helping to preserve and build wealth over the long-term.

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Market Volatility Perspective

Investments, Investment Views

Global stock market volatility accelerated in recent days on renewed global economic weakness concerns. Continued economic and stock market weakness in China has received much of the blame for the recent volatility. Last week’s devaluation of the Chinese renminbi against the U.S. dollar was an attempt by the Chinese government to boost exports, but may also signal an economy that is weaker than official reports indicate.

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The Upside of Downside Protection

Investments, Investment Views

Some of my fellow blog writers have previously commented on the benefits of downside protection through the teams’ value oriented approach to investing. For example, Nessim Mansoor wrote about Rule #1 and Gaelen Morphet wrote about The Asymmetrical Nature of Risk and Return. Today, I’d like to look at it from an asset allocation point of view.

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