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Expanding the Liquid Fixed Income Toolkit

Using credit in asset allocation

Key Insights

  • As an asset class, fixed income is a mainstay of institutional portfolios. It offers investors a natural hedge against future liabilities, as well as generating returns and acting as a diversifier for other asset classes held in the portfolio.
  • A multi-decade decline in interest rates has brought some of these objectives into conflict and falling yields have put pension fund and insurance company funding models under pressure.
  • In present value terms, in 1999, a payment of £100 to be made 30 years in the future had a present value of just £26. By mid-2020 that had risen to £83.
  • Many investors are turning to the private debt markets, such as real estate, infrastructure and corporate loans, to generate the required cash flow.
  • Private debt markets are less transparent and less liquid than public markets, and they can create an increased governance burden for trustees.
  • We believe investors building cashflow-matching focused portfolios should consider more liquid, less widely used fixed income sectors such as Asia credit, emerging market (EM) corporate debt and globally diversified high yield debt.
  • We’ll discuss how these sectors can offer relatively attractive and predictable cash flows in the medium term, enabling investors to generate extra income without compromising on liquidity and transparency.


Fixed income and the funding conundrum

Fixed income plays multiple roles in the portfolios of institutional investors such as pension funds and insurance companies. The returns and cash flows from fixed income have the benefit of being relatively predictable, especially if bonds are held to maturity. Investors measure their future

liabilities using the yields available on high- quality fixed income instruments, making bonds and other fixed income assets a natural hedge against changes in the current value of those liabilities.

But the two-decade structural decline in high- quality bond yields, compounded by lower central bank policy rates and quantitative easing, has reduced yields at all maturities, both in nominal and in real terms.

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The material does not constitute a distribution, an offer, an invitation, a personal or general recommendation or solicitation to sell or buy any securities in any jurisdiction or to conduct any particular investment activity. The material has not been reviewed by any regulatory authority in any jurisdiction.

Information and opinions presented have been obtained or derived from sources believed to be reliable and current; however, we cannot guarantee the sources’ accuracy or completeness. There is no guarantee that any forecasts made will come to pass. The views contained herein are as of the date written and are subject to change without notice; these views may differ from those of other T. Rowe Price group companies and/or associates. Under no circumstances should the material, in whole or in part, be copied or redistributed without consent from T. Rowe Price.

The material is not intended for use by persons in jurisdictions which prohibit or restrict the distribution of the material and in certain countries the material is provided upon specific request. It is not intended for distribution to retail investors in any jurisdiction.

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