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, when measuring performance, is the actual rate of return of an investment or a pool of investments over a given evaluation period. Total return includes interest, capital gains, dividends and distributions realized over a given period of time. Total return accounts for two categories of return: income including interest paid by fixed-income investments, distributions or dividends and capital appreciation, representing the change in the market price of an asset.'

Applying this definition to our asset in some examples:- Compared with the benchmark SPY (122.1%) in the period of the last 5 years, the total return of 66% of Universal Investment Strategy is lower, thus worse.
- Compared with SPY (64.6%) in the period of the last 3 years, the total return, or performance of 39.6% is smaller, thus worse.

'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.'

Applying this definition to our asset in some examples:- Compared with the benchmark SPY (17.3%) in the period of the last 5 years, the compounded annual growth rate (CAGR) of 10.7% of Universal Investment Strategy is smaller, thus worse.
- During the last 3 years, the annual return (CAGR) is 11.8%, which is lower, thus worse than the value of 18.1% from the benchmark.

'Volatility is a rate at which the price of a security increases or decreases for a given set of returns. Volatility is measured by calculating the standard deviation of the annualized returns over a given period of time. It shows the range to which the price of a security may increase or decrease. Volatility measures the risk of a security. It is used in option pricing formula to gauge the fluctuations in the returns of the underlying assets. Volatility indicates the pricing behavior of the security and helps estimate the fluctuations that may happen in a short period of time.'

Applying this definition to our asset in some examples:- The historical 30 days volatility over 5 years of Universal Investment Strategy is 8.6%, which is lower, thus better compared to the benchmark SPY (18.7%) in the same period.
- Looking at historical 30 days volatility in of 10.2% in the period of the last 3 years, we see it is relatively lower, thus better in comparison to SPY (22.5%).

'The downside volatility is similar to the volatility, or standard deviation, but only takes losing/negative periods into account.'

Using this definition on our asset we see for example:- The downside risk over 5 years of Universal Investment Strategy is 6.2%, which is smaller, thus better compared to the benchmark SPY (13.6%) in the same period.
- Looking at downside deviation in of 7.4% in the period of the last 3 years, we see it is relatively lower, thus better in comparison to SPY (16.4%).

'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.'

Which means for our asset as example:- Compared with the benchmark SPY (0.79) in the period of the last 5 years, the ratio of return and volatility (Sharpe) of 0.95 of Universal Investment Strategy is greater, thus better.
- During the last 3 years, the ratio of return and volatility (Sharpe) is 0.91, which is greater, thus better than the value of 0.69 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.'

Applying this definition to our asset in some examples:- The downside risk / excess return profile over 5 years of Universal Investment Strategy is 1.32, which is larger, thus better compared to the benchmark SPY (1.09) in the same period.
- During the last 3 years, the downside risk / excess return profile is 1.25, which is greater, thus better than the value of 0.95 from the benchmark.

'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.'

Using this definition on our asset we see for example:- The Ulcer Ratio over 5 years of Universal Investment Strategy is 2.3 , which is lower, thus better compared to the benchmark SPY (5.58 ) in the same period.
- During the last 3 years, the Ulcer Index is 2.7 , which is smaller, thus better than the value of 6.83 from the benchmark.

'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.'

Which means for our asset as example:- Looking at the maximum drop from peak to valley of -16.9 days in the last 5 years of Universal Investment Strategy, we see it is relatively higher, thus better in comparison to the benchmark SPY (-33.7 days)
- Looking at maximum drop from peak to valley in of -16.9 days in the period of the last 3 years, we see it is relatively higher, thus better in comparison to SPY (-33.7 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:- Looking at the maximum days under water of 139 days in the last 5 years of Universal Investment Strategy, we see it is relatively higher, thus worse in comparison to the benchmark SPY (139 days)
- Looking at maximum days below previous high in of 104 days in the period of the last 3 years, we see it is relatively smaller, thus better in comparison to SPY (139 days).

'The Drawdown Duration is the length of any peak to peak period, or the time between new equity highs. 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.'

Which means for our asset as example:- The average days under water over 5 years of Universal Investment Strategy is 29 days, which is lower, thus better compared to the benchmark SPY (33 days) in the same period.
- Compared with SPY (35 days) in the period of the last 3 years, the average time in days below previous high water mark of 25 days is smaller, thus better.

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.