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.

'The total return on a portfolio of investments takes into account not only the capital appreciation on the portfolio, but also the income received on the portfolio. The income typically consists of interest, dividends, and securities lending fees. This contrasts with the price return, which takes into account only the capital gain on an investment.'

Using this definition on our asset we see for example:- The total return, or performance over 5 years of Universal Investment Strategy is 71.1%, which is lower, thus worse compared to the benchmark SPY (121.2%) in the same period.
- Compared with SPY (67.5%) in the period of the last 3 years, the total return, or increase in value of 36.6% 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.'

Using this definition on our asset we see for example:- Looking at the annual return (CAGR) of 11.3% in the last 5 years of Universal Investment Strategy, we see it is relatively lower, thus worse in comparison to the benchmark SPY (17.2%)
- During the last 3 years, the annual return (CAGR) is 10.9%, which is lower, thus worse than the value of 18.7% 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.'

Using this definition on our asset we see for example:- The historical 30 days volatility over 5 years of Universal Investment Strategy is 8.5%, which is lower, thus better compared to the benchmark SPY (18.7%) in the same period.
- Compared with SPY (22.5%) in the period of the last 3 years, the historical 30 days volatility of 10.1% is lower, thus better.

'Downside risk is the financial risk associated with losses. That is, it is the risk of the actual return being below the expected return, or the uncertainty about the magnitude of that difference. 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:- Compared with the benchmark SPY (13.6%) in the period of the last 5 years, the downside volatility of 6.1% of Universal Investment Strategy is lower, thus better.
- Compared with SPY (16.3%) in the period of the last 3 years, the downside risk of 7.3% is lower, thus better.

'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:- Looking at the risk / return profile (Sharpe) of 1.04 in the last 5 years of Universal Investment Strategy, we see it is relatively larger, thus better in comparison to the benchmark SPY (0.79)
- Compared with SPY (0.72) in the period of the last 3 years, the Sharpe Ratio of 0.84 is higher, thus better.

'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:- Looking at the excess return divided by the downside deviation of 1.44 in the last 5 years of Universal Investment Strategy, we see it is relatively larger, thus better in comparison to the benchmark SPY (1.08)
- Compared with SPY (1) in the period of the last 3 years, the ratio of annual return and downside deviation of 1.15 is larger, thus better.

'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.'

Applying this definition to our asset in some examples:- Looking at the Downside risk index of 2.29 in the last 5 years of Universal Investment Strategy, we see it is relatively smaller, thus better in comparison to the benchmark SPY (5.59 )
- Looking at Ulcer Ratio in of 2.69 in the period of the last 3 years, we see it is relatively lower, thus better in comparison to SPY (6.83 ).

'A maximum drawdown is the maximum loss from a peak to a trough of a portfolio, before a new peak is attained. Maximum Drawdown is an indicator of downside risk over a specified time period. It can be used both as a stand-alone measure or as an input into other metrics such as 'Return over Maximum Drawdown' and the Calmar Ratio. Maximum Drawdown is expressed in percentage terms.'

Applying this definition to our asset in some examples:- Looking at the maximum DrawDown of -16.9 days in the last 5 years of Universal Investment Strategy, we see it is relatively greater, thus better in comparison to the benchmark SPY (-33.7 days)
- During the last 3 years, the maximum DrawDown is -16.9 days, which is greater, thus better than the value of -33.7 days from the benchmark.

'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 139 days, which is higher, thus worse compared to the benchmark SPY (139 days) in the same period.
- Compared with SPY (139 days) in the period of the last 3 years, the maximum days under water of 104 days is smaller, thus better.

'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:- Compared with the benchmark SPY (33 days) in the period of the last 5 years, the average days under water of 29 days of Universal Investment Strategy is lower, thus better.
- Looking at average days below previous high in of 25 days in the period of the last 3 years, we see it is relatively lower, thus better in comparison to SPY (35 days).

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.