Yoga: love the idea, but not sure it’s for me.

Yoga:   love the idea, but not sure it’s for me.

Tonight, is the night.  I’ve decided to break the seal and attend my first yoga class.

I don’t have to tell you that every bit of my acquired masculine identity is screaming “no, no, no.”  As much as I want to suck it up and get on with it, the gulf between the first step and where I am now has been as wide as the Grand Canyon.  Failing sprouting wings and being able to soar across, that divide has been far too wide.

So, what’s changed my attitude?  Well, I’ve decided that since I’ve survived putting flax seed in everything (what I jokingly call Chia Pet to Linda; there’s a story in that) I can risk alfalfa sprouts and Thai pants.

On the road to where I want to be

I’m fitter than I was but I still sport a rather robust girth.  The image I have of myself does not match the reflection in the mirror and quite frankly I am ashamed.  On the other hand, if I can wear compression wear doing aerobics in the gym, I can suck it up and roll around with all the grace of a python than has swallowed a pig.  That, like the pig, shall pass.

I’m ready to swallow my shame and get on with it.

Go big or go home

I go for the gusto.

Everything that I do, if I cater to both my competitive nature and need to succeed, I do to the extreme.  I find it hard to break down an entirely new activity into manageable, progressively more challenging parts.  Instead I go overboard.

When it comes to fitness, I’ve been there, done that.  I have paid exorbitant sums in the past for a personal trainer, struggling with the limitations he placed on me rather than letting me beat the machines, or hit yet again another personal best.  And the same PT was determined to follow his own agenda and despite my concerns and objections I found myself in a situation where I got hurt.

I’m going to work overtime to take a measured approach.

Attitude

I grew up straddling more than one socioeconomic class and the great generational divide between Hippy and Disco.  Yoga practitioners were the alfalfa-sprout-eating long-hairs that I was too young to be but wished I was.

Too, generationally as a late-boomer, I’m not as open to alternative lifestyles, as much as it is acceptable to those younger than me.  I struggle with my sons’ embracing not only chest thumping, grunting weight training and exercise but their determination to live a healthier lifestyle through diet and, yes, yoga.

James, the youngest, taught me something about personal care.  It isn’t that he is flamboyant, but that he is willing to embrace metrosexual.  He taught me it was okay to feel comfortable wearing flip flops.

Rob, the oldest, is more direct in his approach, and unapologetically pursues a healthier alternative way of life.  He taught me that it was okay to be in your face about what works for him.  For Rob, more than any else, I owe him to give yoga a shot.

And I owe it to myself to be open.

Need

I am starting to push up against limits both in physiotherapy and in aerobics.  I need an answer to the surprising tightness and soreness of muscles increasingly liberated.  I want to continue to step up my efforts because frankly I enjoy my twice-daily 40-minute workouts.  And I’m ready to begin challenging myself with cable and free weights.

To do that though, I must start to address a decades-long aversion to disciplined stretching coupled with a pathology of over and under-developed muscle groupings after 39 years coping with a leg injury.

I find it interesting that that one thing, need, overcomes the weight of inertia, closing that chasm and making the step across manageable.  Not easy mind you.  But manageable.

Investing

Managing your finances is little different than any other endeavor in life.  It is only when need overcomes the baggage you carry that you can actively deal with it.  And the older you are, the tighter your attitudes.

I’m not suggesting that Linda or I have the answers you need to be more successful as an investor; that comes from within.  But we’re both good at being a coach to help you sort out what barriers have stood in your way to past financial success.  And we both can help you break things down into manageable bites.

To find out more, give me (437 266 1125) or Linda a call (437 266 1126).

David Chellew and Linda Odnokon have been life partners and in business together for almost 19 years.  During that time, they have mellowed into their respective roles and enjoy working with individual investment clients. Dave is a Portfolio Manager and Linda is an Investment Advisor with iAS and work out of the co-work space Brightlane on King West in downtown Toronto.

Industrial Alliance Securities Inc. (IAS) is a member of the Canadian Investor Protection Fund (CIPF) and the Investment Industry Regulatory Organization of Canada (IIROC). iA Securities is a trademark and business name under which Industrial Alliance Securities Inc. operates.

This information has been prepared by David Chellew, Portfolio Manager for Industrial Alliance Securities Inc. (IAS) and does not necessarily reflect the opinion of IAS. The opinions expressed are based on an analysis and interpretation dating from the type of publication and are subject to change. Furthermore, they do not constitute an offer or solicitation to buy or sell any the securities mentioned. For more information about IAS, please consult the official website at www.iasecurities.ca. David Chellew can open accounts only in the provinces where he is registered.

Shame and gut-wrenching fear: 20 years without the dentist.

Sitting in my dental hygienist’s chair gripping the arm rests to the point that I was ready to rip the leatherette and stuffing away from the steel frame, I had to keep willing myself to be calm and breathe.  Laying supine with my mouth gaping open while some dude was poking, and scraping, isn’t the scene where I can wax poetic or opine on some weighty issue.  I was focused on how many teeth he had left to do so I had some sense of when I could leave all that stress behind for another three months.

Don’t get me wrong, my hygienist is both gentle and patient.  Like my dentist, he is non-judgmental and encouraging.  But the journey to the hygienist chair was 20 years long.

I was at one point a custodial single parent.  That meant I had to make many decisions that parents must make, but some of them were weightier.  Cara and Shannon always came first and since money was almost always tight I neglected many things in my life, including my dental care.

As time went on the condition of my mouth got worse and worse.  It got to the point that I stopped smiling, I was so self-conscious.  But it took a decade for Linda, patient life-partner extraordinaire, to cajole me into walking into the dentist.

I was deeply ashamed and in absolute terror.  Childhood experiences coupled with a military dentist left me with a phobia that to this day I’m not sure I can adequately define.

Intellectually, abstractly, I was amazed at the warmth and kindness shown to me by both my dental clinic and equally my dental surgeon.  Without being pejorative, they were direct and honest without accusation.  After the initial assessment I agreed upon an eight-week course of freezing, drilling, sculpting and cleaning.

And I discovered the absolute delight of nitrous oxide.  A stressful time of my life professionally two years ago the gas itself was a great escape.  Every Friday afternoon at 4 I got to leave the world behind and float into the weekend.

How they approached me addressed the shame.  I wasn’t made to feel less-than, inadequate or somehow a failure.  And I could conquer my fear of dentists, or at least chain that beast, with a little help of some gas and a routine that I met without fail for that eight-week period.  And today I can smile, or at least learn to, with confidence.

Linda and I don’t have access to laughing gas although we can use a little humor to help put you at ease.  Our starting point is right now and what may come.  It’s our job to help you identify clearly what it is that you want to accomplish and help create a map for your journey to get there.

November is Financial Literacy Month in Canada.  Why don’t you give me (437 266 1125) or Linda (426 266 1126) a call and help you begin the process of making more informed choices.

David Chellew and Linda Odnokon have been life partners and in business together for almost 19 years.  During that time, they have mellowed into their respective roles and enjoy working with individual investment clients.  Dave is a Portfolio Manager and Linda is an Investment Advisor with iAS and work out of the co-work space Brightlane on King West in downtown Toronto.

Industrial Alliance Securities Inc. (IAS) is a member of the Canadian Investor Protection Fund (CIPF) and the Investment Industry Regulatory Organization of Canada (IIROC). iA Securities is a trademark and business name under which Industrial Alliance Securities Inc. operates.

This information has been prepared by David Chellew, Portfolio Manager for Industrial Alliance Securities Inc. (IAS) and does not necessarily reflect the opinion of IAS. The opinions expressed are based on an analysis and interpretation dating from the type of publication and are subject to change. Furthermore, they do not constitute an offer or solicitation to buy or sell any the securities mentioned. For more information about IAS, please consult the official website at www.iasecurities.ca. David Chellew can open accounts only in the provinces where he is registered.

“Hi. My name is David. I’m a type 2 diabetic.”: My struggle to accept my reality.

I’d rather be anything else in fact.  I associate type 2 with overweight individuals, and on King West in Toronto it’s just not acceptable to be overweight.

I have been avoiding getting my blood tested for six months now; while I do aerobics for 30 minutes twice a day and have drastically altered my diet, I have a lingering suspicion that that isn’t enough.  I’m still overweight.  I’m just 37 pounds less overweight.

My diabetes is much like my hypertension.  While both undoubtedly are the partial result of genetic predisposition, the larger issue has been my yo-yoing weight coupled with an often-sedentary lifestyle highlighted with too much alcohol.  While 10,000 steps may cut it for some people, as a downtowner I navigate that daily just going about my business.  I had to make a conscious decision to lose weight.

I can also tell you that I was tempted to find a one-pill solution and stay angry at my incompetent genes.

Living in denial did nothing for me but allow my weight to balloon.  I didn’t have some epiphany, some religious moment when I saw with sudden clarity what I needed to do.  I had a slow dawning realization that I had a fair amount of control over the progression of both diseases and that the responsibility lay with me first.

I have also not recruited people to my efforts.  After all, publishing what I’m attempting to do is just short of becoming a dogmatic preacher of health.  I don’t know that giving up alcohol coupled with a regime of regular exercise and radically changed diet is for everyone.  It just works for me.

But the greatest power in changing my circumstances starts with one admission.  “Hi, I’m David and I’m a type 2 diabetic.”

David Chellew and Linda Odnokon have been life partners and in business together for almost 19 years.  During that time, they have mellowed into their respective roles and enjoy working with individual investment clients.  Dave is a Portfolio Manager and Linda is an Investment Advisor with iAS and work out of the co-work space Brightlane on King West in downtown Toronto.

Industrial Alliance Securities Inc. (IAS) is a member of the Canadian Investor Protection Fund (CIPF) and the Investment Industry Regulatory Organization of Canada (IIROC). iA Securities is a trademark and business name under which Industrial Alliance Securities Inc. operates.

This information has been prepared by David Chellew, Portfolio Manager for Industrial Alliance Securities Inc. (IAS) and does not necessarily reflect the opinion of IAS. The opinions expressed are based on an analysis and interpretation dating from the type of publication and are subject to change. Furthermore, they do not constitute an offer or solicitation to buy or sell any the securities mentioned. For more information about IAS, please consult the official website at www.iasecurities.ca. David Chellew can open accounts only in the provinces where he is registered.

 

On Blowing Up Eggs and Campfires:  Finding a Way Out of Complacency

I can remember Shannon (my youngest daughter) when she was 9 or 10, asking me why I didn’t just make her omelet by putting a raw egg in the microwave.  I was grousing about having to clean out the mug I had just made her egg in and I answered her that I suspected that the egg would blow up.

She was no sooner out the door to go to school than I grabbed a raw egg and put it in the microwave.  There is a YouTube video that doesn’t do exploding eggs justice.  Delighted, I put another in and “boom”.  And another.  And another.  I kept at it until I had exploded a dozen eggs with childish delight.

I couldn’t clean the microwave and rather than going to work that morning I had to troop out and buy a replacement.  There are times that it just makes sense to give into the mischievous 8-year-old in yourself.

This past summer Linda and I had the opportunity to go visit a friend at her cottage in North Bay.  She was a little addled by her recent termination from a major financial institution but plans ultimately fell through.  Linda suggested we go camping instead and on a leap of faith we rented an SUV and dropped $2000 on the gear to make it happen.

We camped five times this past year, and from bone chilling cold in late August (we have toque stories) to mid-30 weather in late September, our central activity was the campfire.

Linda is a trooper and we discovered we camp exceedingly well together.  By the last trip we could set up our site in the dark with an economy of motion and absolutely no frayed tempers or impatience (well almost no frayed tempers).

And we mastered the art of the campfire.

From early boy scout skill, we evolved into two true 8-year-old experts in fire.  A dollar store pillar candle anchoring the first flame, we’d build either a log cabin or teepee (log cabin in our considered opinion is better) out of dry kindling from Canadian Tire around it.  In turn we’d place a circle of firewood with a piece at the top upon which Linda would stack pyramid-fashion 50 votive candles stripped of their tin.  Lastly, a liberal dosing of BBQ starter or lamp oil and we were ready.

In all we built ten or twelve this way, and once the satisfaction of seeing a blaze, we would settle into the night quiet around the fire.  We did have some detours like Jiffy Pop that sort of act like eggs in a microwave, marshmallows that set the Bailey’s on fire when quenched and hilarious racoon stories about how they would hold themselves just outside the circle of light thrown by the fire to try to raid our food.  The “who us” look on their faces when I turned a flashlight on them was hilarious.

A willingness to start down a new path almost always calls upon us to set aside our preconceptions and inertia.  It is often easier to risk losing out on future opportunities and stay in our complacency than it is to take that first step.

Linda and I firmly believe that the process of taking control of your financial future means taking that first step out of your comfort zone.  We can help you find a comfortable way to do that.

We are committed to helping people be better informed and better investors.  And there is every chance that you don’t need to change a thing.

November is Financial Literacy Month in Canada.  Why don’t you give me (437 266 1125) or Linda (437 266 1126) a call and arrange to sit down with us.

Who knows, maybe we’ll find some smiles along the way.

David Chellew and Linda Odnokon have been life partners and in business together for almost 19 years.  During that time, they have mellowed into their respective roles and enjoy working with individual investment clients.  Dave is a Portfolio Manager and Linda is an Investment Advisor with iAS and work out of the co-work space Brightlane on King West in downtown Toronto.

Industrial Alliance Securities Inc. (IAS) is a member of the Canadian Investor Protection Fund (CIPF) and the Investment Industry Regulatory Organization of Canada (IIROC). iA Securities is a trademark and business name under which Industrial Alliance Securities Inc. operates.

This information has been prepared by David Chellew, Portfolio Manager for Industrial Alliance Securities Inc. (IAS) and does not necessarily reflect the opinion of IAS. The opinions expressed are based on an analysis and interpretation dating from the type of publication and are subject to change. Furthermore, they do not constitute an offer or solicitation to buy or sell any the securities mentioned. For more information about IAS, please consult the official website at www.iasecurities.ca. David Chellew can open accounts only in the provinces where he is registered.

On Constellations, Checkerboard Floors and Fallin’ One Cloud at a Time.

I can remember the first time I heard “Bobcaygeon”.

It was one of those colder than normal days with sheets of windblown snow hammering the windows.  I was wrapped in a blanket on the couch happy to have the time to myself.

I’m not sure the song was where I was at the time or that it called forth something I longed for, but to this day I hear the song and I am transported back to those feelings.

Outwardly the beginning of ‘99 was the worst of times:  money, work, girlfriend, parenthood, the looming 4-0.  But I was feeling inner calmness and confidence divorced from the everyday that Downie seemed to tap into.

The decisions I made that day have altered the fabric of my life.  And sometimes I think my life couldn’t be better but for the warmth of a blanket on a cold stormy day.

And Constellations, Checkerboard Floors and Fallin’ One Cloud at a Time[I].

David Chellew and Linda Odnokon have been life partners and in business together for almost 19 years.  During that time, they have mellowed into their respective roles and enjoy working with individual investment clients.  Dave is a Portfolio Manager and Linda is an Investment Advisor with iAS and work out of the co-work space Brightlane on King West in downtown Toronto.

Industrial Alliance Securities Inc. (IAS) is a member of the Canadian Investor Protection Fund (CIPF) and the Investment Industry Regulatory Organization of Canada (IIROC). iA Securities is a trademark and business name under which Industrial Alliance Securities Inc. operates.

This information has been prepared by David Chellew, Portfolio Manager for Industrial Alliance Securities Inc. (IAS) and does not necessarily reflect the opinion of IAS. The opinions expressed are based on an analysis and interpretation dating from the type of publication and are subject to change. Furthermore, they do not constitute an offer or solicitation to buy or sell any the securities mentioned. For more information about IAS, please consult the official website at www.iasecurities.ca. David Chellew can open accounts only in the provinces where he is registered.

[I] Songwriters: Gordon Downie / Johnny Fay / Joseph Paul Langlois / Robert Baker / Robert Gordon Sinclair
Bobcaygeon lyrics © Peermusic Publishing
[II] Ibid.

Three Habits You Need to Successfully Save for Retirement: Beware of “Money for Nothing and Chicks for Free*”

 

I’ve always been a gifted academic, fortunate that I see complexity as a puzzle that can be quickly solved.  And long ago I learned to stop suffering from paralysis of analysis to make recommendations and follow through on them.  But having an academic bent or good ‘gut’ instincts for the market means nothing when you’re saving for retirement.

Since I first got into the brokerage business I’ve always struggled with our collective need to “beat” the market, although there is merit in managing risk and opportunity.  In my opinion, building a strategy based on a lottery ticket mentality turns the stock market into an elaborate casino.  I personally don’t like spending time in casinos and I don’t want to work in one.

Don’t get me wrong; I have clients who have made enormous amounts of money speculating.  And they have in the main retained most of it.  They deal with me because I am a source of information and analysis, a set of second eyeballs for their deals, an arbiter of technical trends and a latent conscience.

In my opinion, this doesn’t represent most investors.  As much as we all like to sally forth from the walls of our complacency, taking a risk with a little bit of money, close contact with the time demands, angst and uncertainty of investing in a single speculative stock quickly defeats us.

Frankly, if you think about the last “big thing” in Canadian markets, many investors would have been better off spending a smaller portion of their money on bud and smoking it.  At least they would have been chill.

In my many years in the industry I see three highly effective investment habits over and over that lead to a healthy retirement:

1.    Save Systematically

Either you’re committed or not.

I have seen people with below average incomes saving disproportionally larger shares of their income and amassing huge sums of money.  And I have seen others with large incomes facing the horror and panic of having five years to save enough money to last them for 40.

Saving systematically is a habituation.  If you have the discipline to commit to and keep to a saving program then it is merely a matter of defining what that amount will be for the year and reviewing it to increase it on an annual basis.

If you need a little external discipline, then borrow it to invest, provided you pay it off during the year.

I have seen both approaches work very well over the last 25 years.

2.   Have a Sound, Consistent and Easy Strategy to Follow

There are far too many get-rich-quick schemes out there and they inevitably line the pockets of the purveyors and producers of this garbage.

Some years ago, a friend and colleague reminded me that the market was driven by fear, greed and envy.  Yet successful savers that I have known and come to respect fall for none of these.  That doesn’t mean they don’t suffer from anxiety from time to time, or that they are not tempted to jump on board the “latest thing”.  It means regardless of the temptation or fear, they don’t depart from their strategy.

A sound strategy is one that is replicable, timeless and concise.  We will be talking about building a retirement portfolio using rate reset preferred shares, or new issues, real estate investment trusts (REITs), strip bonds or only bank and insurance stocks in later posts.  They can all form part of a sound strategy singularly or in combination.

Regardless of your short-term risk profile, a strategy like this is built around doing the same thing over and over.  They are not “Dire Straits” opportunities.  You know the ones:

“That ain’t workin’ that’s the way you do it
Money for nothin’ and chicks for free”[1]

3.    Be Clear on Your Goal

Goals can be clear, concise and easy to monitor.  Too many moving parts and the chances that you will keep to a routine that will allow you to meet the goal is lost.

Many years ago, I started working out at a gym.  I had one of the PTs put together an exercise routine for me that focused on upper and lower body on alternate days.  I spent the first month or so trying to learn the “slow, slow, quick, quick” of the dance of the machines.  I became about proficient as I was with waltz classes.  Don’t ask me to dance.

I only became successful when I hired a full time PT that I was committed to 3 days a week.  The goal was to make the work out; I allowed him to guide me through the routine, vary it for maximum effectiveness and he held me accountable for both cardio that I did on my own and my off-day routines.  The point?  I had a goal:  to make every workout I had scheduled and in doing so keeping the PT off my back.

 

Getting Started

The time to start is now.  If you’re like most people, you’re carrying a lot of garbage.

It’s time we sat down and explored your attitudes toward saving and set a measurable and achievable goal to help you start down the road to financial fitness.

I’m not going to promise you that it’s easy.  I can promise you that after meeting you will feel lighter because we’ve helped you take out the trash.  I can also promise that we can set a goal that is both timely and achievable.

Partner Linda Odnokon (437-266-1126) and I (437-266-1125) are both available to explore your financial anxiety.  Give us a call.


[1] Easy, easy money for nothin’, chicks for free) (I want my, I want my MTV)
(Money for nothin’ chicks for free)

Written by Mark Knopfler, Gordon Sumner • Copyright © Universal Music Publishing Group

[11] Ibid

 

David Chellew and Linda Odnokon have been life partners and in business together for almost 19 years.  During that time, they have mellowed into their respective roles and enjoy working with individual investment clients.  Dave is a Portfolio Manager and Linda is an Investment Advisor with iAS and work out of the co-work space Brightlane on King West in downtown Toronto.

Industrial Alliance Securities Inc. (IAS) is a member of the Canadian Investor Protection Fund (CIPF) and the Investment Industry Regulatory Organization of Canada (IIROC). iA Securities is a trademark and business name under which Industrial Alliance Securities Inc. operates.

This information has been prepared by David Chellew, Portfolio Manager for Industrial Alliance Securities Inc. (IAS) and does not necessarily reflect the opinion of IAS. The opinions expressed are based on an analysis and interpretation dating from the type of publication and are subject to change. Furthermore, they do not constitute an offer or solicitation to buy or sell any the securities mentioned. For more information about IAS, please consult the official website at www.iasecurities.ca. David Chellew can open accounts only in the provinces where he is registered.

 

Income Investing: 5 Ways to Raccoon Proof Your Income Portfolio

Linda (@lindaodnokon) and I went camping last weekend, something we’ve never done before together. $1000 later for equipment and a rental SUV to pack it all in, off we went for two days at Rondeau Provincial Park. Although we had never set up the new sleep tent and kitchen shelter, a couple of false starts later we managed to get everything set up within an hour.

There’s something about being a life-long experienced camper that allows you to slip into an easy routine and literally let the cares of everyday life slip away. A few bottles of barley pop later we set about making dinner. Of course, the steak in the cooler was frozen; luckily there was a fish and chip stand just outside of the park gate.

Picking up firewood at the same time as dinner, back at the site we had a great greasy meal and as darkness descended, lit a fire. Sitting around drinking vodka sodas and watching the flames, I thought about putting the dry goods and coolers into the truck. But in the fullness of the night as the flames died down we went to bed.

The next morning, I woke at dawn and went into the kitchen tent to make drip coffee with a new gadget that fit over the stove. Looking down, I realized that we had been visited by raccoons. Little evidence remained of the dry good feast the family had enjoyed. Croissants, eaten. Hot dog buns, mostly eaten but I’m guessing didn’t have the same appeal as the giant loaf of pumpernickel bread, which like the croissants, eaten. Oatmeal raisin cookies? The raccoons left them behind. The double fudge chocolate cookies, eaten. And for a little salt after the sweets, they ripped open a bag of dill pickle chips although I think they would have preferred the plain ripples instead.

By the time I had cleaned up the mess and policed the campsite, stooping and scooping racoon poop, I got to sit down and enjoy that first cup of coffee which was extraordinarily good.

You can only smile at yourself when you make a mistake the way I did. Shame on me for knowing better and not doing anything about it. The second night the family returned hoping to find a feast and instead rifled through the pots and pans; everything was safely put away in the back of the vehicle.

What do racoons have to do with your income portfolio?

After an incredibly long period of ultra-low interest rates (coming up on nine years) central banks the world over has started signaling the end to accommodative monetary policy. At home BOC has raised rates with the promise of more to come.

Many investors I know are relieved that the impact on the market hasn’t been larger. If you read the many commentaries on the subject in the press, non-financial and financial both, I’m not surprised if you’re not seeing the Armageddon scenario hinted at. As a peer of mine oft repeated, “it all depends on the time frame”.

We’ve now seen a fundamental shift in expectations, a tsunami of change, that takes time to manifest itself. We can speak of the Ontario government’s role and the OFSI actions to cool down the housing market in the GTHA, but in my opinion the biggest factor has been a shift in interest rates in the face of an increasingly overextended buying public. While the availability of credit becoming more constrained and more expensive, the first signs of cooling and reversing are evident.

I’m not about to argue the nuances of the whys and wherefores of any issue. I don’t possess the expertise nor the time to develop it. Instead of figuring out how the racoons got into the kitchen tent and went about dining, it was enough that I knew it was going to happen and what I needed to do wasn’t done.

The danger of income investing without paying attention to rising rates is not much different than my racoon experience. You know that something is going to happen but through your own complacency, inertia or competing demands you ignore the steps you need to take.

I suggest to you we are entering a period of rising interest rates. I further suggest that the behaviors that drove many investors to taking on increasing levels of risk in search of yield are going to lead to some erosion of capital.  If you know that the racoons are going to come, it’s time to racoon proof yourself.

5 things you can do to position yourself for higher rates

1.      Bond Yields

The yield curve for all forms of bonds are going to change. As the yields on government guaranteed investments rise, sovereigns, yields on corporate bonds of all types will also go up but so too will the risk spread.

There is a tradeoff between safety in shorter term time horizons but there is a way to play the curve to your advantage. There is, for example, a steep drop in yield at the inflection point which is generally around 7 years. By cherry picking issues sitting on the high side, as rates go up over time, the decline in duration mitigates or eliminates the risk.

Similarly, trading higher duration high beta bonds (BBB) for lower duration higher grade bonds allows you to preserve much of the yield. Rate reset bonds are particularly attractive in this case – think NVCC Canadian Bank bonds.

Be opportunistic – I can’t tell you with confidence what the shocks in the system will be, but if you look back to the first quarter of 2016 you’ll see the spike in the spread between corporate and government bonds provided an incredibly profitable short-term opportunity. Buying then left you with great quality issuers with much higher yields than you could find in the following quarters.

2.      Preferred Shares

Rate reset preferred shares have been a great way to add yield to your portfolio. If you were like many people who bought them coming out of the great recession, you probably got burned because the interest rate expectations five years out never materialized.

I’ve been buying a portfolio of rate reset preferred shares in the form of a ladder. Knowing which ones to buy is an art and you must be patient because preferred shares by their very nature are illiquid. The yield you will receive is comparable to current yields on recent new issues.

I’ve also been selling recent rate reset preferred share issues knowing full well that the longer duration to reset makes them more vulnerable to price declines.

I’ve also been pulling apart both mutual fund and ETFs invested in preferred shares. Some are better positioned to take advantage of shifts in interest rate expectations than others.

3.      Fixed Income ETFs

Many fixed income ETFs are indexed-based.

I am always surprised to find people already investing in these ETFs because of the high distributions without realizing most of the bonds in the index trade at a premium. That means there is grind – a phenomena where the ETF must pay out more that the yield of the underlying portfolio building in a capital loss. Think of it this way: the ETF pays and declares income at say 3% that you’re taxed on even though you only earned 1.5%.

More importantly, while bonds have been in many cases the superior investment to be in for the last 35 years, the long-term reversal in this bullish trend will ultimately work against you. Fixed income investments based on an index are problematic in that the bond index was never meant to be invested in, but rather a reading on the overall health and condition of that market. Many people are going to experience a decline that is permanent.

4.      Blue Chip Stocks

A great deal of the run up on high dividend paying stocks has been a matter of increasing dividends in a desert of decent yield.

Canadian banks trade at a lower PE than US banks for any number of reasons, but some of it is the much higher dividend payout ratio. While I don’t expect to see the dividends cut, I similarly don’t see there being much likelihood of the recent history of dividend increases. After all banks aren’t immune to consumers in distress.

There’s any number of things you can do such as aggressively writing calls as premiums rise or selling the stock, buying a leap and investing the rest for yield in say the same company’s bonds of the same duration.

5.      REITs

Of all the yield investments that you can hold, REITs have the greatest Yin and Yang in any environment.

When you own a REIT, generally you hold a fractional interest in all its properties. They are fundamentally a flow-through entity and you are subject to all the factors that affect their operation.

Think of it as having not one major risk, but a multitude of balance sheet (refinancing risk, cap rate on asset purchases) and income statement (top line, operating cost) factors that you need to assess.

On the top of that a REIT isn’t just one entity: it describes the business structure that it operates in and describes everything from office, retail, industrial, retirement homes, hotels, apartments, etc. Each of these sub categories are industries of their own.

Generally, I have been avoiding REITs that are sensitive to reductions in consumer spending and have been examining Industrial REITs that are primarily logistics based.

One last thing: there is a natural spread between the yield on REITs and large blue-chip stocks. If for any reason the yields on the blue’s go up from a stock value decline, it will also pressure the yields on the REITs up. It is an inverse relationship just like bonds; yields go up, prices fall.

Conclusion

There is always a risk in making a major call on changing fundamentals. After all there isn’t a person I know that didn’t think that the world of low interest rates was going to last almost a decade. On the other hand, there is sufficient change already showing up to start to move your assets in the right direction.

I’m going camping again with Linda in a little less than two weeks. This time the food goes into the vehicle.

Industrial Alliance Securities Inc. (IAS) is a member of the Canadian Investor Protection Fund (CIPF) and the Investment Industry Regulatory Organization of Canada (IIROC). iA Securities is a trademark and business name under which Industrial Alliance Securities Inc. operates.

This information has been prepared by David Chellew, Portfolio Manager for Industrial Alliance Securities Inc. (IAS) and does not necessarily reflect the opinion of IAS. The opinions expressed are based on an analysis and interpretation dating from the type of publication and are subject to change. Furthermore, they do not constitute an offer or solicitation to buy or sell any the securities mentioned. For more information about IAS, please consult the official website at www.iasecurities.ca. David Chellew can open accounts only in the provinces where he is registered.