The Universal Investment Strategy (UIS) is one of our core investment strategies. It is an evolved, intelligent version of the classic 60/40 equity/bond portfolio. Much like the classic portfolio, UIS holds both the S&P 500 index and bonds. However, UIS can intelligently adapt to current conditions by shifting weight away from stocks in difficult markets and adding weight in bullish markets.

Instead of using simple bond ETF, UIS uses a sub-strategy, called HEDGE, which can choose between different types of safe-heaven ETFs.

The equity/bond (or in our case equity/HEDGE) pair is interesting because most of the time these two asset classes profit from an inverse correlation. If there is a real stock market correction, usually ETFs included in the HEDGE strategy (Treasuries, Gold, etc) are the 'safe' assets where money flows to, providing crash protection.

'Total return is the amount of value an investor earns from a security over a specific period, typically one year, when all distributions are reinvested. Total return is expressed as a percentage of the amount invested. For example, a total return of 20% means the security increased by 20% of its original value due to a price increase, distribution of dividends (if a stock), coupons (if a bond) or capital gains (if a fund). Total return is a strong measure of an investment’s overall performance.'

Using this definition on our asset we see for example:- Looking at the total return of 65.3% in the last 5 years of Universal Investment Strategy, we see it is relatively lower, thus worse in comparison to the benchmark SPY (67.5%)
- During the last 3 years, the total return, or increase in value is 32.1%, which is lower, thus worse than the value of 39.8% from the benchmark.

'Compound annual growth rate (CAGR) is a business and investing specific term for the geometric progression ratio that provides a constant rate of return over the time period. CAGR is not an accounting term, but it is often used to describe some element of the business, for example revenue, units delivered, registered users, etc. CAGR dampens the effect of volatility of periodic returns that can render arithmetic means irrelevant. It is particularly useful to compare growth rates from various data sets of common domain such as revenue growth of companies in the same industry.'

Using this definition on our asset we see for example:- Compared with the benchmark SPY (10.9%) in the period of the last 5 years, the annual return (CAGR) of 10.6% of Universal Investment Strategy is lower, thus worse.
- Compared with SPY (11.8%) in the period of the last 3 years, the annual performance (CAGR) of 9.7% is smaller, thus worse.

'In finance, volatility (symbol σ) is the degree of variation of a trading price series over time as measured by the standard deviation of logarithmic returns. Historic volatility measures a time series of past market prices. Implied volatility looks forward in time, being derived from the market price of a market-traded derivative (in particular, an option). Commonly, the higher the volatility, the riskier the security.'

Applying this definition to our asset in some examples:- Compared with the benchmark SPY (21.4%) in the period of the last 5 years, the 30 days standard deviation of 9.2% of Universal Investment Strategy is lower, thus better.
- Compared with SPY (18.7%) in the period of the last 3 years, the volatility of 8.9% is smaller, thus better.

'Risk measures typically quantify the downside risk, whereas the standard deviation (an example of a deviation risk measure) measures both the upside and downside risk. Specifically, downside risk in our definition is the semi-deviation, that is the standard deviation of all negative returns.'

Which means for our asset as example:- Looking at the downside deviation of 6.6% in the last 5 years of Universal Investment Strategy, we see it is relatively smaller, thus better in comparison to the benchmark SPY (15.4%)
- Compared with SPY (13.3%) in the period of the last 3 years, the downside volatility of 6.4% is lower, thus better.

'The Sharpe ratio (also known as the Sharpe index, the Sharpe measure, and the reward-to-variability ratio) is a way to examine the performance of an investment by adjusting for its risk. The ratio measures the excess return (or risk premium) per unit of deviation in an investment asset or a trading strategy, typically referred to as risk, named after William F. Sharpe.'

Using this definition on our asset we see for example:- The risk / return profile (Sharpe) over 5 years of Universal Investment Strategy is 0.88, which is greater, thus better compared to the benchmark SPY (0.39) in the same period.
- During the last 3 years, the ratio of return and volatility (Sharpe) is 0.81, which is larger, thus better than the value of 0.5 from the benchmark.

'The Sortino ratio, a variation of the Sharpe ratio only factors in the downside, or negative volatility, rather than the total volatility used in calculating the Sharpe ratio. The theory behind the Sortino variation is that upside volatility is a plus for the investment, and it, therefore, should not be included in the risk calculation. Therefore, the Sortino ratio takes upside volatility out of the equation and uses only the downside standard deviation in its calculation instead of the total standard deviation that is used in calculating the Sharpe ratio.'

Using this definition on our asset we see for example:- The excess return divided by the downside deviation over 5 years of Universal Investment Strategy is 1.23, which is higher, thus better compared to the benchmark SPY (0.54) in the same period.
- Looking at downside risk / excess return profile in of 1.14 in the period of the last 3 years, we see it is relatively greater, thus better in comparison to SPY (0.7).

'The ulcer index is a stock market risk measure or technical analysis indicator devised by Peter Martin in 1987, and published by him and Byron McCann in their 1989 book The Investors Guide to Fidelity Funds. It's designed as a measure of volatility, but only volatility in the downward direction, i.e. the amount of drawdown or retracement occurring over a period. Other volatility measures like standard deviation treat up and down movement equally, but a trader doesn't mind upward movement, it's the downside that causes stress and stomach ulcers that the index's name suggests.'

Applying this definition to our asset in some examples:- The Downside risk index over 5 years of Universal Investment Strategy is 4.46 , which is lower, thus better compared to the benchmark SPY (9.48 ) in the same period.
- Looking at Ulcer Ratio in of 5.29 in the period of the last 3 years, we see it is relatively smaller, thus better in comparison to SPY (10 ).

'Maximum drawdown is defined as the peak-to-trough decline of an investment during a specific period. It is usually quoted as a percentage of the peak value. The maximum drawdown can be calculated based on absolute returns, in order to identify strategies that suffer less during market downturns, such as low-volatility strategies. However, the maximum drawdown can also be calculated based on returns relative to a benchmark index, for identifying strategies that show steady outperformance over time.'

Applying this definition to our asset in some examples:- Compared with the benchmark SPY (-33.7 days) in the period of the last 5 years, the maximum DrawDown of -15 days of Universal Investment Strategy is greater, thus better.
- Looking at maximum reduction from previous high in of -12.2 days in the period of the last 3 years, we see it is relatively greater, thus better in comparison to SPY (-24.5 days).

'The Drawdown Duration is the length of any peak to peak period, or the time between new equity highs. The Max Drawdown Duration is the worst (the maximum/longest) amount of time an investment has seen between peaks (equity highs) in days.'

Using this definition on our asset we see for example:- Compared with the benchmark SPY (358 days) in the period of the last 5 years, the maximum days under water of 358 days of Universal Investment Strategy is higher, thus worse.
- During the last 3 years, the maximum time in days below previous high water mark is 358 days, which is higher, thus worse than the value of 358 days from the benchmark.

'The Average Drawdown Duration is an extension of the Maximum Drawdown. However, this metric does not explain the drawdown in dollars or percentages, rather in days, weeks, or months. The Avg Drawdown Duration is the average amount of time an investment has seen between peaks (equity highs), or in other terms the average of time under water of all drawdowns. So in contrast to the Maximum duration it does not measure only one drawdown event but calculates the average of all.'

Applying this definition to our asset in some examples:- The average time in days below previous high water mark over 5 years of Universal Investment Strategy is 76 days, which is lower, thus better compared to the benchmark SPY (80 days) in the same period.
- During the last 3 years, the average time in days below previous high water mark is 105 days, which is greater, thus worse than the value of 104 days from the benchmark.

Historical returns have been extended using synthetic data.
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- Note that yearly returns do not equal the sum of monthly returns due to compounding.
- Performance results of Universal Investment Strategy are hypothetical, do not account for slippage, fees or taxes, and are based on backtesting, which has many inherent limitations, some of which are described in our Terms of Use.