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:- The total return, or increase in value over 5 years of Universal Investment Strategy is 77.2%, which is smaller, thus worse compared to the benchmark SPY (88.1%) in the same period.
- During the last 3 years, the total return, or increase in value is 18.3%, which is lower, thus worse than the value of 26.1% from the benchmark.

'The compound annual growth rate (CAGR) is a useful measure of growth over multiple time periods. It can be thought of as the growth rate that gets you from the initial investment value to the ending investment value if you assume that the investment has been compounding over the time period.'

Applying this definition to our asset in some examples:- The annual return (CAGR) over 5 years of Universal Investment Strategy is 12.1%, which is smaller, thus worse compared to the benchmark SPY (13.5%) in the same period.
- Compared with SPY (8.1%) in the period of the last 3 years, the annual return (CAGR) of 5.8% is lower, thus worse.

'Volatility is a statistical measure of the dispersion of returns for a given security or market index. Volatility can either be measured by using the standard deviation or variance between returns from that same security or market index. Commonly, the higher the volatility, the riskier the security. In the securities markets, volatility is often associated with big swings in either direction. For example, when the stock market rises and falls more than one percent over a sustained period of time, it is called a 'volatile' market.'

Applying this definition to our asset in some examples:- Looking at the historical 30 days volatility of 9.2% in the last 5 years of Universal Investment Strategy, we see it is relatively lower, thus better in comparison to the benchmark SPY (20.9%)
- Compared with SPY (17.3%) in the period of the last 3 years, the 30 days standard deviation of 8.2% 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.'

Applying this definition to our asset in some examples:- Looking at the downside volatility of 6.6% in the last 5 years of Universal Investment Strategy, we see it is relatively lower, thus better in comparison to the benchmark SPY (15%)
- Compared with SPY (12.1%) in the period of the last 3 years, the downside deviation of 5.8% is lower, thus better.

'The Sharpe ratio is the measure of risk-adjusted return of a financial portfolio. Sharpe ratio is a measure of excess portfolio return over the risk-free rate relative to its standard deviation. Normally, the 90-day Treasury bill rate is taken as the proxy for risk-free rate. A portfolio with a higher Sharpe ratio is considered superior relative to its peers. The measure was named after William F Sharpe, a Nobel laureate and professor of finance, emeritus at Stanford University.'

Applying this definition to our asset in some examples:- The risk / return profile (Sharpe) over 5 years of Universal Investment Strategy is 1.05, which is higher, thus better compared to the benchmark SPY (0.52) in the same period.
- During the last 3 years, the risk / return profile (Sharpe) is 0.4, which is larger, thus better than the value of 0.32 from the benchmark.

'The Sortino ratio improves upon the Sharpe ratio by isolating downside volatility from total volatility by dividing excess return by the downside deviation. The Sortino ratio is a variation of the Sharpe ratio that differentiates harmful volatility from total overall volatility by using the asset's standard deviation of negative asset returns, called downside deviation. The Sortino ratio takes the asset's return and subtracts the risk-free rate, and then divides that amount by the asset's downside deviation. The ratio was named after Frank A. Sortino.'

Which means for our asset as example:- Compared with the benchmark SPY (0.73) in the period of the last 5 years, the excess return divided by the downside deviation of 1.46 of Universal Investment Strategy is greater, thus better.
- Compared with SPY (0.46) in the period of the last 3 years, the excess return divided by the downside deviation of 0.57 is higher, thus better.

'Ulcer Index is a method for measuring investment risk that addresses the real concerns of investors, unlike the widely used standard deviation of return. UI is a measure of the depth and duration of drawdowns in prices from earlier highs. Using Ulcer Index instead of standard deviation can lead to very different conclusions about investment risk and risk-adjusted return, especially when evaluating strategies that seek to avoid major declines in portfolio value (market timing, dynamic asset allocation, hedge funds, etc.). The Ulcer Index was originally developed in 1987. Since then, it has been widely recognized and adopted by the investment community. According to Nelson Freeburg, editor of Formula Research, Ulcer Index is “perhaps the most fully realized statistical portrait of risk there is.'

Applying this definition to our asset in some examples:- The Downside risk index over 5 years of Universal Investment Strategy is 4.51 , which is smaller, thus better compared to the benchmark SPY (9.33 ) in the same period.
- Looking at Downside risk index in of 5.46 in the period of the last 3 years, we see it is relatively lower, thus better in comparison to SPY (10 ).

'Maximum drawdown measures the loss in any losing period during a fund’s investment record. It is defined as the percent retrenchment from a fund’s peak value to the fund’s valley value. The drawdown is in effect from the time the fund’s retrenchment begins until a new fund high is reached. The maximum drawdown encompasses both the period from the fund’s peak to the fund’s valley (length), and the time from the fund’s valley to a new fund high (recovery). It measures the largest percentage drawdown that has occurred in any fund’s data record.'

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

'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). Many assume Max DD Duration is the length of time between new highs during which the Max DD (magnitude) occurred. But that isn’t always the case. The Max DD duration is the longest time between peaks, period. So it could be the time when the program also had its biggest peak to valley loss (and usually is, because the program needs a long time to recover from the largest loss), but it doesn’t have to be'

Applying this definition to our asset in some examples:- The maximum time in days below previous high water mark over 5 years of Universal Investment Strategy is 489 days, which is larger, thus worse compared to the benchmark SPY (488 days) in the same period.
- Looking at maximum days below previous high in of 489 days in the period of the last 3 years, we see it is relatively greater, thus worse in comparison to SPY (488 days).

'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.'

Using this definition on our asset we see for example:- Looking at the average days under water of 122 days in the last 5 years of Universal Investment Strategy, we see it is relatively smaller, thus better in comparison to the benchmark SPY (123 days)
- Compared with SPY (179 days) in the period of the last 3 years, the average days below previous high of 181 days is larger, thus worse.

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.