Description of Universal Investment Strategy

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. 

Statistics of Universal Investment Strategy (YTD)

What do these metrics mean? [Read More] [Hide]

TotalReturn:

'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 67% in the last 5 years of Universal Investment Strategy, we see it is relatively lower, thus worse in comparison to the benchmark SPY (67.6%)
  • During the last 3 years, the total return is 34.2%, which is lower, thus worse than the value of 51.3% from the benchmark.

CAGR:

'The compound annual growth rate isn't a true return rate, but rather a representational figure. It is essentially a number that describes the rate at which an investment would have grown if it had grown the same rate every year and the profits were reinvested at the end of each year. In reality, this sort of performance is unlikely. However, CAGR can be used to smooth returns so that they may be more easily understood when compared to alternative investments.'

Which means for our asset as example:
  • The annual performance (CAGR) over 5 years of Universal Investment Strategy is 10.8%, which is smaller, thus worse compared to the benchmark SPY (10.9%) in the same period.
  • Looking at compounded annual growth rate (CAGR) in of 10.3% in the period of the last 3 years, we see it is relatively smaller, thus worse in comparison to SPY (14.8%).

Volatility:

'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.'

Using this definition on our asset we see for example:
  • Compared with the benchmark SPY (13.5%) in the period of the last 5 years, the historical 30 days volatility of 6.8% of Universal Investment Strategy is smaller, thus better.
  • During the last 3 years, the historical 30 days volatility is 6.3%, which is lower, thus better than the value of 12.8% from the benchmark.

DownVol:

'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.'

Using this definition on our asset we see for example:
  • Looking at the downside volatility of 7.4% in the last 5 years of Universal Investment Strategy, we see it is relatively lower, thus better in comparison to the benchmark SPY (14.8%)
  • During the last 3 years, the downside deviation is 7.4%, which is lower, thus better than the value of 14.7% from the benchmark.

Sharpe:

'The Sharpe ratio was developed by Nobel laureate William F. Sharpe, and is used to help investors understand the return of an investment compared to its risk. The ratio is the average return earned in excess of the risk-free rate per unit of volatility or total risk. Subtracting the risk-free rate from the mean return allows an investor to better isolate the profits associated with risk-taking activities. One intuition of this calculation is that a portfolio engaging in 'zero risk' investments, such as the purchase of U.S. Treasury bills (for which the expected return is the risk-free rate), has a Sharpe ratio of exactly zero. Generally, the greater the value of the Sharpe ratio, the more attractive the risk-adjusted return.'

Using this definition on our asset we see for example:
  • Compared with the benchmark SPY (0.62) in the period of the last 5 years, the ratio of return and volatility (Sharpe) of 1.23 of Universal Investment Strategy is larger, thus better.
  • Compared with SPY (0.96) in the period of the last 3 years, the risk / return profile (Sharpe) of 1.25 is larger, thus better.

Sortino:

'The Sortino ratio measures the risk-adjusted return of an investment asset, portfolio, or strategy. It is a modification of the Sharpe ratio but penalizes only those returns falling below a user-specified target or required rate of return, while the Sharpe ratio penalizes both upside and downside volatility equally. Though both ratios measure an investment's risk-adjusted return, they do so in significantly different ways that will frequently lead to differing conclusions as to the true nature of the investment's return-generating efficiency. The Sortino ratio is used as a way to compare the risk-adjusted performance of programs with differing risk and return profiles. In general, risk-adjusted returns seek to normalize the risk across programs and then see which has the higher return unit per risk.'

Which means for our asset as example:
  • The ratio of annual return and downside deviation over 5 years of Universal Investment Strategy is 1.12, which is larger, thus better compared to the benchmark SPY (0.57) in the same period.
  • Looking at excess return divided by the downside deviation in of 1.06 in the period of the last 3 years, we see it is relatively larger, thus better in comparison to SPY (0.84).

Ulcer:

'The Ulcer Index is a technical indicator that measures downside risk, in terms of both the depth and duration of price declines. The index increases in value as the price moves farther away from a recent high and falls as the price rises to new highs. The indicator is usually calculated over a 14-day period, with the Ulcer Index showing the percentage drawdown a trader can expect from the high over that period. The greater the value of the Ulcer Index, the longer it takes for a stock to get back to the former high.'

Which means for our asset as example:
  • Compared with the benchmark SPY (3.99 ) in the period of the last 5 years, the Ulcer Ratio of 1.74 of Universal Investment Strategy is smaller, thus better.
  • Looking at Ulcer Index in of 1.76 in the period of the last 3 years, we see it is relatively smaller, thus better in comparison to SPY (4.1 ).

MaxDD:

'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.'

Which means for our asset as example:
  • Looking at the maximum drop from peak to valley of -5.7 days in the last 5 years of Universal Investment Strategy, we see it is relatively greater, thus better in comparison to the benchmark SPY (-19.3 days)
  • During the last 3 years, the maximum DrawDown is -5.2 days, which is higher, thus better than the value of -19.3 days from the benchmark.

MaxDuration:

'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'

Which means for our asset as example:
  • Compared with the benchmark SPY (187 days) in the period of the last 5 years, the maximum days under water of 141 days of Universal Investment Strategy is lower, thus better.
  • During the last 3 years, the maximum days under water is 141 days, which is higher, thus worse than the value of 139 days from the benchmark.

AveDuration:

'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:
  • Compared with the benchmark SPY (42 days) in the period of the last 5 years, the average days below previous high of 34 days of Universal Investment Strategy is lower, thus better.
  • During the last 3 years, the average time in days below previous high water mark is 34 days, which is lower, thus better than the value of 36 days from the benchmark.

Performance of Universal Investment Strategy (YTD)

Historical returns have been extended using synthetic data.

Allocations of Universal Investment Strategy
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Allocations

Returns of Universal Investment Strategy (%)

  • 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.