Wednesday, 17 January 2024 10:51

The Case for Active Fixed Income Management

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There’s a major drawback to today’s hyper-connected world where investors are constantly receiving financial advice that is mostly short-term and doesn’t necessarily have the investors’ best interests in mind. Contrast that approach to a long-term, fundamental based approach that is based on timeless principles rather than impulsive thinking.


Recently, there has been a narrative that individuals should be buying individual bonds. Adam Abbas, a portfolio manager at Oakmark Funds, pushed back against this notion and made the case for why most investors are better off with mutual funds and ETFs. 


He acknowledges that bonds look very appealing given where rates are relative to historic levels and that default rates for high-quality securities are likely to remain low. However, the risk climbs when investors start ‘reaching for yield’ which tends to happen with individual investors. Therefore, some sort of comprehensive credit analysis is required from a bottom-up perspective. 


Further, most individual investors will not be able to sufficiently diversify their portfolios. This means that their portfolios would be damaged by a corporate bond default. In addition to understanding companies, investors also need to have a grasp on the macro picture as factors like inflation or rate policy can also impact returns. 


Given these difficulties, most investors are better off choosing an astute active manager to invest in bonds as they will conduct proper due diligence and ensure that portfolios are sufficiently diversified. 

Finsum: There’s a trend of individual investors buying individual bonds. Oakmark’s Adam Abbas pushes back against this and makes the case for why most investors are better off with a mutual fund or ETF. 


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