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Buyers beware of silent risks in bond markets

  • March 09 2020
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Invest

Buyers beware of silent risks in bond markets

By Cameron Micallef
March 09 2020

Investors are being urged not to fall into the trap of buying inferior-quality bonds in a low-yielding environment, despite the promises of higher returns, an industry expert has warned.

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Buyers beware of silent risks in bond markets

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  • March 09 2020
  • Share

Investors are being urged not to fall into the trap of buying inferior-quality bonds in a low-yielding environment, despite the promises of higher returns, an industry expert has warned.

bond markets

During a recent Pitcher Partners function, advisory board chairman of Jamieson Coote Bonds Mark Burgess sounded a timely warning for Australian investors as the level of national debt continues to rise. 

Mr Burgess said silent risks in debt markets were rising given the growth in poorer-quality assets, which he referred to as “covenant lite”, implying weakness in some of the lenders’ protections.

“The ideal time to get your asset allocation right is right now,” he said. “There are unknown risks inside some assets that some investors often don’t fully understand,” Mr Burgess said.

To mitigate against downside risk, Jamieson Coote Bonds specialist bond manager and co-founder Angus Coote told investors to purchase quality AAA-rated government bonds.

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This is because exposure to high-grade sovereign bonds can outperform riskier assets such as equities and high-yield credit during periods of market stress given their negative correlation, he explained.

Mr Burgess agreed that adding high-grade bonds alongside other risky assets in diversified portfolios was a crucial measure to get the balance right between risk and return.

He said that “asset managers had benefited from positive tailwinds such as low volatility, central bank support, high corporate growth and the rise of China which had bolstered profits since the 1980s”, but he warned these days were done.

“We have got asset classes that have simply had tailwinds behind them — in private equity, infrastructure and real estate,” he said.

“Every infrastructure manager thinks they’re a genius. I stand here and tell you they’re not.”

Buyers beware of silent risks in bond markets
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About the author

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Cameron is a journalist for Momentum Media's nestegg and Smart Property Investment. He enjoys giving Aussies practical financial tips and tricks to help grow their wealth and achieve financial independence. As a self-confessed finance nerd, Cameron enjoys chatting with industry experts and commentators to leverage their insights to grow your portfolio.

About the author

Cameron is a journalist for Momentum Media's nestegg and Smart Property Investment. He enjoys giving Aussies practical financial tips and tricks to help grow their wealth and achieve financial independence. As a self-confessed finance nerd, Cameron enjoys chatting with industry experts and commentators to leverage their insights to grow your portfolio.

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