PHOENIX, AZ -- (Marketwired) -- 04/26/13 -- Delivering positive real returns to bond fund shareholders now requires a more creative way of thinking about potential investments -- one that more actively assesses sector and issue-specific risks, advises Scott Kimball, Portfolio Manager for BMO TCH Corporate Income and Core Plus Bond Funds. Kimball delivered this important message to delegates at the International Foundation of Employee Benefit Plans' Investment Institute Conference, held recently at the Arizona Biltmore in Phoenix.
Kimball noted that few asset classes have evolved more than fixed income, enabling investors to create a highly customized allocation for a wide range of objectives. However, as the exposure to non-traditional fixed income increases, the impact on a plan's total risk profile may change materially.
"Like any asset class, there is no way to de-risk fixed income entirely," said Kimball. "We can only shift away from risks that appear undesirable to those deemed more manageable."
According to Kimball, a low-yield, negative real interest rate environment raises investor concerns about interest rates and inflation. To offset these concerns, investors are increasing their exposure to other risks such as credit and liquidity. As exposure to these risks increases, the correlation between fixed income and other asset classes (such as equity) may increase, thereby lowering the diversification benefits of a fixed income allocation. Referred to as contagion risk, the decrease in diversification often occurs during periods of stress throughout financial markets, which is the most inopportune time.
Kimball noted that, historically, timing interest rate cycles has been difficult and costly because lowering duration greatly reduces the diversification benefits of fixed income. As the majority of fixed income investors continue their quest for higher yields, it is unlikely these gains are free on a risk-adjusted basis. Specifically, increases in yield are accompanied by additional credit and/or liquidity risks. After adjusting for the change in risk, such as increased volatility, excess yield is usually low.
"The 30-year bull market in bonds -- which has been driven by ever-lower interest rates -- is coming to an end," he told delegates. "In today's low-yield, negative real interest rate environment, it's very difficult to deliver positive returns to our bond fund investors by traditional ways such as clipping coupons and making wholesale maturity and duration decisions. We have to look elsewhere -- to positioning along the yield curve, to lower-quality credits, to inflation-protected treasuries and beyond. It means looking outside of the ubiquitous benchmark and understanding the potential risks."
The International Foundation of Employee Benefit Plans' Investment Institute Conference brings together trustees, investment policy developers and key decision makers to discuss investment decisions and strategies, economic and legislative updates, fund news and investment approaches.
For more information, visit http://www.bmo.com/gamus.
About BMO Global Asset Management
BMO Global Asset Management is a global investment manager with more than $125 billion in assets under management as of January 31, 2013, including discretionary and non-discretionary assets under management.
Our two multi-disciplined teams are based in Toronto and Chicago/Milwaukee, and our network of world-class boutique managers is strategically located across the globe. They include Monegy, Inc., Pyrford International Ltd., Lloyd George Management and Taplin, Canida & Habacht, LLC. BMO Global Asset Management delivers service excellence from offices throughout North America, and in London, Abu Dhabi, Mumbai, Beijing, Shanghai and Hong Kong. Our approach has led us to be recognized by Pension & Investments as one of the world's largest 100 asset managers based on combined assets under management as of December 31, 2011.
We are a part of BMO Financial Group (NYSE: BMO), a fully diversified financial services organization with $542 billion total assets and more than 46,000 employees as of January 31, 2013.
BMO Global Asset Management is the brand name for various affiliated entities of BMO Financial Group that provide investment management, retirement plan services, and trust and custody. Certain of the products and services offered under the brand name BMO Global Asset Management are designed specifically for various categories of investors in a number of different countries and regions. Products and services are only offered to such investors in those countries and regions in accordance with applicable laws and regulations. BMO Financial Group is a service mark of Bank of Montreal (BMO).
Investors should carefully consider the investment objectives, risks, charges and expenses of the BMO Funds. This and other important information is contained in the prospectuses and/or summary prospectuses, which can be obtained by calling 1-800-580-3863 or by visiting our website at bmofundsus.com. Please read carefully before investing.
All investments involve risk, including the possible loss of principal.
BMO Asset Management Corp. is the investment adviser to the BMO Funds. M&I Distributors LLC is the distributor. BMO Funds are not marketed or sold outside the United States.
Investment products are: Not FDIC Insured | No Bank Guarantee | May Lose Value
©2013 BMO Financial Corp.
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