Archive for December, 2008

Product Allocation—Coming to a Portfolio Near You?

The sky is not falling  but some of our retirement portfolios are. While the majority of Canadians have plenty  of time ’til retirement  to recover from this market correction (and they will), it does well to remind us of just how those portfolios are positioned, and what we may need to do to ensure we have access to steady income in retirement—no matter what the market is doing.

Most portfolios are based on what we call asset allocation. Asset allocation combines different investments from various classes such as the technology, resources, and financial sectors to build a portfolio suited to the individuals risk tolerance and time frame.

The diversification of investments between sectors, geography and type (equities, fixed income) acts as a buffer to reduce risk  but still allow for good returns over time.

For many of us facing retirement asset allocation may not be enough to enusre your savings will last a lifetime. Many planners now speak of product allocation as well. Product allocation divides assets amongst different investment products to create a secure guaranteed life time income.

The methodology behind it stresses that no one product should exclude another. Based on personal finances, time frame, risk tolerance, personal longevity risk and goals, product allocation will determine which investments are most suitable for you to achieve your optimum retirement income, and how much of your savings you should put into each investment product.

The range of products available to investors is wide and varied from stocks, bonds, mutual funds, GICs, segregated funds and annuities. In response to consumer demand and demographics, investment companies continue to develop and refine new products such as principal-protected notes and GMWB  Guaranteed Minimum Withdrawal Benefit  programs.

One cannot forget however an old tried-and-true investment strategy bricks and mortar. Considered by some a non-traditional investment, real estate is increasingly finding its way into many more traditional investment areas like REIT trusts and mutual funds.

Why include real estate? Benefits like inflation-hedging and added diversification are great additions to any portfolio and can effectively dial up a portfolio’s return for a given level of risk, or visa versa, dial down risk for a given return.

Like with any investment, seek the advice of a professional and do your homework before you dive in. Good luck and good investing.