What Are Segregated Funds? We Make Sense of Segregated Funds, an Emerging Market And High Yield Investment

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Many investors think of emerging markets only as stock market investing opportunities. But did you know that in recent years emerging bond markets have produced consistently strong returns? Currently, a growing selection of Canadian segregated funds can help you benefit from these returns and at the same time increase the diversification of your fund portfolio.

More to choose from and contrary to what many believe, emerging market bonds aren’t as risky as they once were and have proven to be a high yield investment.

Segregated funds don’t have to be confusing. A large percentage of emerging market bonds are higher-quality “investment grade,” unlike a decade or so ago. According to a major U.S. financial institution survey, 56% of emerging markets bonds is now investment grade, up from 17% in 1998. Plus, the difference in yields between emerging and developed markets can be considerable — often double or more for similar government bonds. For example, according to Bloomberg data, as of January 31, 2011, 10 year U.S. treasuries yielded 3.4%; meanwhile, 10 year government of Brazil bonds yielded 13%. That can make a significant difference in your portfolio’s fixed-income returns.

Certainly, part of that yield difference stems from the fact that emerging market bonds must pay higher interest to compensate investors for the risk of investing in emerging countries. Many emerging countries have environments of chronically higher interest rates, in which bonds must compete for investors’ cash. Latin American economic powerhouse Brazil, where central bank rates are among the world’s highest, is an excellent example.

Foreign-exchange risk must also be factored into your decision. Yet Brazil, like several other emerging economies, has had its sovereign credit ratings upgraded in recent years. The reason is emerging market governments and central banks have become much better at managing economies and tempering boom-and-bust cycles.

In fact, some emerging economies fared better than their developed counterparts during the recent recession and have since returned to much higher growth rates. Finding opportunity in segregated funds emerging debt markets can be difficult to navigate. We recommend the professional money management of segregated funds that invest in emerging market bonds.

The selection of segregated funds available to Canadians is growing in recognition of the fact that emerging market securities are in demand and that they offer Canadians an alternative to traditional developed country bonds or corporate bonds.

Emerging market bond funds usually focus on bonds issued by governments, although some may hold debt issued by corporations. They typically aim for a combination of income and capital growth through potential appreciation in bond prices. We should look for funds that diversify holdings among geographic markets and bond types to help maximize returns and manage risk. You can also get exposure through international funds that hold debt securities of both developed and emerging markets.

We’ll be pleased to show you how emerging market bond funds can help boost your fixed-income returns, improve the diversification of your overall portfolio and help you reach your financial goals.


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