Bond Fund Vs GICs | Summary and Q&A

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March 2, 2019
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Ben Felix
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Bond Fund Vs GICs

TL;DR

GICs and bond funds both have their advantages, but whether GICs or bond funds are better for you ultimately comes down to personal preference.

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Key Insights

  • 🪄 Individual retail investors may find it challenging and expensive to invest in individual bonds, making bond funds and GICs more suitable options.
  • 🍉 GICs are suitable for known expenses with fixed timelines, while bond funds offer flexibility for longer-term goals.
  • ❓ Bond funds provide potential benefits such as reinvested interest payments, liquidity, and exposure to diversified bond portfolios.
  • 🏃 GICs may offer psychological comfort during price fluctuations, but their economic impact is similar to bond funds in the long run.
  • 👻 Bond funds allow for global diversification, although having some exposure to globally diversified currency-hedged fixed income is sufficient.
  • ☄️ The choice between GICs and bond funds ultimately comes down to individual preferences and risk tolerance.
  • 🧑‍🏭 Bond funds may offer advantages in terms of diversification, exposure to factors explaining fixed income returns, and liquidity.

Transcript

  • One of the oldest questions in investing is whether you should own individual bonds, GICs, or bond funds to get your fixed income exposure. Many people believe that bond funds are risky, especially in a rising rate environment, due to the potential for price fluctuations. On the other hand, as the story goes, individual bonds and GICs guarantee y... Read More

Questions & Answers

Q: What makes GICs attractive for meeting known expenses at specific future dates?

GICs allow investors to earn interest without any risk of the cash not being available when needed, making them suitable for goals with fixed timelines.

Q: How does investing in bond funds differ from GICs in terms of price fluctuations?

Bond funds can experience price fluctuations due to changing interest rates, while GICs remain unaffected. However, bond funds immediately reinvest coupons and maturities into new bonds, potentially negating the impact of interest rate changes.

Q: What factors affect bond returns?

Bond returns come from principal, interest payments, and reinvested interest payments. Additionally, factors such as term (longer-term bonds having higher expected returns) and credit (lower credit bonds having higher expected returns) play a role in diversified bond portfolios.

Q: How do GICs and bond funds differ in terms of global diversification?

GICs do not offer exposure to the global bond market, while bond funds can include globally diversified bonds. Global bond exposure, hedged to the investor's local currency, can provide diversification benefits due to varying interest rates across countries.

Q: What makes GICs attractive on an after-tax basis?

GICs do not suffer from the issue of holding tax-inefficient premium bonds. In a falling rate environment, GICs can offer attractive after-tax returns because they avoid the premium bond issue altogether.

Summary & Key Takeaways

  • Individual bonds require extensive research and can be expensive and tricky to trade, making them less ideal for individual retail investors. GICs, on the other hand, are easy to purchase and require no research due to CDIC backing.

  • GICs are suitable for known expenses at specific future dates, but for longer-term, uncertain goals like retirement, the attraction of principal guarantees diminishes.

  • Bond funds and GICs provide similar results in terms of returns, and while bond funds can experience price fluctuations, they also offer the benefits of reinvested interest payments and liquidity.

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