What Is Fixed Income? Answered For Canadians

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What is Fixed Income
Article Overview
Fixed income investing is a form of investment that focuses on capital and income preservation. This investment is represented in securities such as government bonds, large corporate bonds, certificates of deposit, and money market funds. In addition, it has the characteristic that it offers the investor a constant flow of income, with less risk than shares. You are purchasing a stake of a corporation when you buy or invest in stocks. When you acquire fixed income instruments, on the other hand, you are essentially lending money to the issuer. With the wide range of fixed income securities available, it is essential that as an investor you find the securities that meet your investment wants and needs. That means that if you want a high level of security for your investment, you should choose securities with a high credit rating. However, you receive a comparatively lower interest rate. On the other hand, for fixed income securities with a lower credit rating, there is the option of receiving a higher interest rate, with higher investment risk.

What is fixed income investing?

It is the one in which the investor acquires a fixed income title. It is, in other words, a debt instrument issued by a corporation, government agency, or other body to develop and finance its operations. The purchase of any product of this type is equivalent to a loan from the investor, to the issuer of the instrument. These securities provide investors with a set rate of return in the form of monthly payments. The capital can also be repaid at maturity.

Fixed income investments are increasingly becoming the focus of money investors. The objective is that the money is increased with various types of investments. Of course, security is a fundamental aspect. But those who want safe investments should be clear that they will usually only get low returns. These investments offer you the security and certainty of knowing from the first day what amount you will receive at the end of the contracted term.

In general, fixed-income investments deliver exactly what they promise. Fixed income securities may be a valuable component of a well-balanced portfolio. Fixed income investments are a secure, low-risk approach for many investors to receive consistent income. When held to maturity, the securities provide a guaranteed return on the invested principal in the form of predetermined payments. Fixed income investments offer greater stability than participation in shares.

Types of Fixed Income Investment

A government or corporate bond is by far the most typical example of a fixed-income investment. The most widely held government securities by Canadians are those offered by the Canadian government, which are known as Treasury securities. Many fixed-income instruments are also available from non-governments and enterprises.

The following are the most popular fixed income products:

1. Treasury bills

Treasury bills are short-term fixed-income instruments having a one-year maturity and no coupon payments. Investors purchase the bill for a lower price than its face value, and they profit from the difference when it matures.

2. Treasury notes

Treasury notes have maturities ranging from two to ten years, pay a set interest rate, and are offered in $100 increments. Investors are refunded the principal at the conclusion of the maturity period, but they continue to receive semi-annual interest payments until the maturity date.

3. Treasury bonds

Treasury bonds are identical to T-notes but have a 20 or 30-year maturity. Treasury bonds are available in $100 increments.

4. A municipal bond

Municipal Bonds are comparable to a Treasury bond in that it is offered by the government, but instead of the federal government, it is offered by a province, or municipality, which is used to raise funds to fund local expenditures. Investors in municipal bonds may be able to profit from tax-free returns.

5. Corporate bonds

There are many different forms of corporate bonds, and the price and interest rate issued are primarily determined by the company’s financial strength and credit reputation. Bonds with a better credit score have lower coupon rates.

6. High-Yield bonds

High-yield bonds are also known as junk bonds, represent corporate bonds with a higher coupon rate given the higher chance of default. When a firm fails to repay the capital and interest on a bond or debt security, it is said to be in default.

7. Guaranteed Income Certificates (GICs)

This is a fixed-income investment that has a maturity of fewer than 5 years and is sold by financial institutions. The interest rate is greater than a conventional savings account, and GICs are insured by the Credit Union Deposit Insurance Corporation (CUDIC) or the Canadian Deposit Insurance Corporation (CDIC).

8. Fixed income or asset allocation ETFs

Fixed income or asset allocations EFTs function similarly to mutual funds. These funds are designed to invest in certain credit ratings, durations, or any other characteristics. ETFs also include a fee for professional management.

9. Business Promissory Notes

It is a financial product that offers a high return but in exchange for high risk. They are debt financial assets that are “zero coupons” securities issued at a discount and short term. They indicate a commitment to pay people or companies on a specified date, the most frequent terms being 2,3,6,12 and 18 months.

Therefore, what we acquire when we buy a debt issue is an obligation on the part of the issuer (state or company) to return us an amount of capital plus interest valued at a certain moment in time, on the date of issue.

10. Subordinated obligations

Hybrid financial product between shares and debt, that is, it has an issue and closing date that is listed on a secondary market. When the due date arrives, the full amount plus interest must be returned. If the company issuing the securities could not meet its payments, the common creditors and the holders of simple obligations would have a preference in the collection.

11. Convertible bonds

Possibility of exchanging the title for shares of the issuing company. An obligation can be converted into a share or into another class of obligation.

12. Mortgage cells 

Fixed-income titles or securities issued by financial institutions with a mortgage guarantee from the issuing credit institution, that is, by the flows of a set of mortgages.

13. Is fixed income investment safe?

Although fixed income has traditionally been associated with a safe investment where profitability is practically guaranteed, in reality, this is not always the case. What’s more, in recent years, the guaranteed return of fixed income has been increasingly questioned. 

The monetary policy of the central banks has plunged interest rates to even negative levels, causing the price of government bonds and, in general, other similar fixed-income instruments to fall in the secondary market.

This anomalous circumstance has caused many fixed-income investment funds to see how their value has fallen, dragged down by the decline in the price of bonds.

But, in addition, no one guarantees that the creditor will be able to repay the principal together with the agreed interest in a timely manner. If you go bankrupt, it is possible that reductions or remissions will have to be imposed and, consequently, the creditor will lose part of the stipulated amount.

In this sense, there are a series of risks that all investors assume when investing in fixed income:

Market risk

It is the possibility that the securities trade below the price that is paid for them. This risk depends, fundamentally, on the risks of interest rates.

Liquidity risk

This is the risk that no counterparty can be found in the market and, therefore, the product cannot be sold on the secondary market.

Credit risk

‍This is the risk assumed due to the issuer’s failure to collect interest and/or principal on the investment.

How is fixed income acquired?

Fixed income can be purchased directly from the issuer, usually through your financial institution, or on the so-called secondary market, where you can buy and sell your fixed-income assets to other investors.

Should all your fund be invested in fixed income?

Deciding whether to invest all your capital in fixed income depends mainly on your profile as an investor. If you want to jump right into the stock market and have a great future as an investor, you’re more likely to do it through equity holdings, with a variable return. If, on the other hand, you want to maintain your capital and have a safe and reliable source of income, invest in fixed income instruments.

Fixed income securities are an important tool for stabilizing overall portfolio volatility, preserving capital, managing risk, and generating income. Investments of this type should be viewed as a portfolio within a portfolio, requiring the same careful construction as an overall investment plan. The different kinds of investments you make not only achieve different goals but are tailored to your different interests and market dynamics.

Why would you invest in fixed-income?

Here are some of the advantages of investing in fixed income we can mention:

It is a reliable investment system: ‍

Fixed-income securities are fixed-term investments that earn you interest on a regular basis. These can be bonds or debentures, among others. The issuer of the securities determines the amount of interest beforehand. You will get your capital back at face value at the conclusion of the period. In addition, you know the interest that you will receive within the established period of time. That way you always know what’s coming. You can plan your investments and the accumulation of your assets well.

It allows to personalize the investment and recover the money quickly if necessary:

With fixed income investment you can choose between securities with different maturities and different denominations. From a few months to years. You decide what best suits your estate planning. Also, if you need to access your capital before the term ends, you can do that too: you sell your securities back at the current market price. So, you will always count fluently if necessary.

They provide fixed and constant income:

Interest might be paid monthly, quarterly, semi-annually, or even yearly on fixed income investment assets. These payments ensure that you have a consistent and predictable income. This consistent flow of income can also assist to lessen the volatility of your portfolio’s returns and provide liquidity for non-investment costs. Also, if you choose a reliable and qualified bond issuer, your investment is quite safe.

FAQ

An example of fixed income would be government bonds. They are also known as fixed income investments. 

Fixed income means investments that generate a known rate of return when you invest. This way, they are lower risk and more predictable. 

Fixed income in Canada include government bonds, corporate bonds, and T-bills. 

Fixed income are investments that generate a predictable return every year. Equity is when you invest and have ownership in a company. Equity means higher risk because it will completely depend on how well the company does. 

Article Overview

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Written by:

Jim Pan, CFP, MFA-P

Jim is a dedicated, fee and advice only independent Certified Financial Planner with a focus on supporting healthcare business owners during their crucial growth phase. His expertise lies in offering comprehensive solutions to minimize taxes while embracing a holistic approach. With a career spanning back to 2010, Jim has established a strong presence in the financial industry. He proudly holds a range of designations, including Certified Financial Planner (CFP), and Master Financial Advisor - Philanthropy (MFA-P). He is currently pursuing additional designations and qualifications to better serve his clients and community. Beyond his qualifications, Jim is a member and an esteemed participant in the Million Dollar Round Table (MDRT), an exclusive global association comprising the top 1% of financial advisors. Jim's commitment extends to the community, where he spearheads numerous charitable fundraising events and plays an active role in enhancing the well-being of others. Additionally, he has contributed significantly by serving on the board of the Canadian Mental Health Association in Vancouver. Currently, he volunteers with Junior Achievement of British Columbia (JABC) to present personal finance topics to youths.

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