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.'

Applying this definition to our asset in some examples:
  • Compared with the benchmark SPY (67.8%) in the period of the last 5 years, the total return of 65.5% of Universal Investment Strategy is lower, thus worse.
  • Looking at total return, or performance in of 27.6% in the period of the last 3 years, we see it is relatively lower, thus worse in comparison to SPY (47.2%).

CAGR:

'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.'

Which means for our asset as example:
  • Compared with the benchmark SPY (10.9%) in the period of the last 5 years, the annual performance (CAGR) of 10.6% of Universal Investment Strategy is smaller, thus worse.
  • During the last 3 years, the annual performance (CAGR) is 8.5%, which is lower, thus worse than the value of 13.8% from the benchmark.

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.'

Applying this definition to our asset in some examples:
  • Looking at the historical 30 days volatility of 6.7% in the last 5 years of Universal Investment Strategy, we see it is relatively smaller, thus better in comparison to the benchmark SPY (13.4%)
  • During the last 3 years, the 30 days standard deviation is 6.1%, which is smaller, thus better than the value of 12.3% from the benchmark.

DownVol:

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

Which means for our asset as example:
  • Looking at the downside risk of 7.3% in the last 5 years of Universal Investment Strategy, we see it is relatively lower, thus better in comparison to the benchmark SPY (14.7%)
  • During the last 3 years, the downside risk is 6.9%, which is lower, thus better than the value of 13.9% from the benchmark.

Sharpe:

'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.'

Using this definition on our asset we see for example:
  • Looking at the ratio of return and volatility (Sharpe) of 1.21 in the last 5 years of Universal Investment Strategy, we see it is relatively larger, thus better in comparison to the benchmark SPY (0.63)
  • Compared with SPY (0.92) in the period of the last 3 years, the Sharpe Ratio of 0.97 is larger, thus better.

Sortino:

'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.'

Using this definition on our asset we see for example:
  • Looking at the downside risk / excess return profile of 1.11 in the last 5 years of Universal Investment Strategy, we see it is relatively higher, thus better in comparison to the benchmark SPY (0.57)
  • During the last 3 years, the excess return divided by the downside deviation is 0.87, which is higher, thus better than the value of 0.81 from the benchmark.

Ulcer:

'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:
  • Compared with the benchmark SPY (3.99 ) in the period of the last 5 years, the Ulcer Index of 1.74 of Universal Investment Strategy is lower, thus better.
  • Compared with SPY (4.04 ) in the period of the last 3 years, the Downside risk index of 1.83 is lower, thus better.

MaxDD:

'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:
  • The maximum drop from peak to valley over 5 years of Universal Investment Strategy is -5.7 days, which is higher, thus better compared to the benchmark SPY (-19.3 days) in the same period.
  • Looking at maximum drop from peak to valley in of -5.2 days in the period of the last 3 years, we see it is relatively greater, thus better in comparison to SPY (-19.3 days).

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) in days.'

Applying this definition to our asset in some examples:
  • Compared with the benchmark SPY (187 days) in the period of the last 5 years, the maximum time in days below previous high water mark of 141 days of Universal Investment Strategy is smaller, thus better.
  • During the last 3 years, the maximum days under water is 141 days, which is greater, thus worse than the value of 139 days from the benchmark.

AveDuration:

'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:
  • Compared with the benchmark SPY (41 days) in the period of the last 5 years, the average time in days below previous high water mark of 33 days of Universal Investment Strategy is smaller, thus better.
  • Looking at average time in days below previous high water mark in of 37 days in the period of the last 3 years, we see it is relatively greater, thus worse in comparison to SPY (36 days).

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 (%)

  • "Year" returns in the table above are not equal to 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.