The Universal Investment Strategy (UIS) is one of our core investment strategies. It is an evolved, intelligent version of the classic 60/40 equity/bond portfolio. Much like the classic portfolio, UIS holds both the S&P 500 index and bonds. However, UIS can intelligently adapt to current conditions by shifting weight away from stocks in difficult markets and adding weight in bullish markets.

Instead of using simple bond ETF, UIS uses a sub-strategy, called HEDGE, which can choose between different types of safe-heaven ETFs.

The equity/bond (or in our case equity/HEDGE) pair is interesting because most of the time these two asset classes profit from an inverse correlation. If there is a real stock market correction, usually ETFs included in the HEDGE strategy (Treasuries, Gold, etc) are the 'safe' assets where money flows to, providing crash protection.

'Total return is the amount of value an investor earns from a security over a specific period, typically one year, when all distributions are reinvested. Total return is expressed as a percentage of the amount invested. For example, a total return of 20% means the security increased by 20% of its original value due to a price increase, distribution of dividends (if a stock), coupons (if a bond) or capital gains (if a fund). Total return is a strong measure of an investment’s overall performance.'

Applying this definition to our asset in some examples:- Looking at the total return of 70.9% in the last 5 years of Universal Investment Strategy, we see it is relatively smaller, thus worse in comparison to the benchmark SPY (128%)
- During the last 3 years, the total return, or performance is 45.2%, which is lower, thus worse than the value of 74.9% from the benchmark.

'Compound annual growth rate (CAGR) is a business and investing specific term for the geometric progression ratio that provides a constant rate of return over the time period. CAGR is not an accounting term, but it is often used to describe some element of the business, for example revenue, units delivered, registered users, etc. CAGR dampens the effect of volatility of periodic returns that can render arithmetic means irrelevant. It is particularly useful to compare growth rates from various data sets of common domain such as revenue growth of companies in the same industry.'

Which means for our asset as example:- Compared with the benchmark SPY (18%) in the period of the last 5 years, the annual performance (CAGR) of 11.3% of Universal Investment Strategy is lower, thus worse.
- Looking at annual performance (CAGR) in of 13.2% in the period of the last 3 years, we see it is relatively smaller, thus worse in comparison to SPY (20.5%).

'Volatility is a statistical measure of the dispersion of returns for a given security or market index. Volatility can either be measured by using the standard deviation or variance between returns from that same security or market index. Commonly, the higher the volatility, the riskier the security. In the securities markets, volatility is often associated with big swings in either direction. For example, when the stock market rises and falls more than one percent over a sustained period of time, it is called a 'volatile' market.'

Which means for our asset as example:- Compared with the benchmark SPY (18.8%) in the period of the last 5 years, the historical 30 days volatility of 8.6% of Universal Investment Strategy is smaller, thus better.
- During the last 3 years, the volatility is 10.3%, which is lower, thus better than the value of 22.3% from the benchmark.

'The downside volatility is similar to the volatility, or standard deviation, but only takes losing/negative periods into account.'

Applying this definition to our asset in some examples:- Compared with the benchmark SPY (13.6%) in the period of the last 5 years, the downside deviation of 6.2% of Universal Investment Strategy is lower, thus better.
- During the last 3 years, the downside volatility is 7.4%, which is smaller, thus better than the value of 16.1% from the benchmark.

'The Sharpe ratio is the measure of risk-adjusted return of a financial portfolio. Sharpe ratio is a measure of excess portfolio return over the risk-free rate relative to its standard deviation. Normally, the 90-day Treasury bill rate is taken as the proxy for risk-free rate. A portfolio with a higher Sharpe ratio is considered superior relative to its peers. The measure was named after William F Sharpe, a Nobel laureate and professor of finance, emeritus at Stanford University.'

Applying this definition to our asset in some examples:- Looking at the risk / return profile (Sharpe) of 1.02 in the last 5 years of Universal Investment Strategy, we see it is relatively larger, thus better in comparison to the benchmark SPY (0.82)
- During the last 3 years, the ratio of return and volatility (Sharpe) is 1.04, which is higher, thus better than the value of 0.81 from the benchmark.

'The Sortino ratio improves upon the Sharpe ratio by isolating downside volatility from total volatility by dividing excess return by the downside deviation. The Sortino ratio is a variation of the Sharpe ratio that differentiates harmful volatility from total overall volatility by using the asset's standard deviation of negative asset returns, called downside deviation. The Sortino ratio takes the asset's return and subtracts the risk-free rate, and then divides that amount by the asset's downside deviation. The ratio was named after Frank A. Sortino.'

Using this definition on our asset we see for example:- The excess return divided by the downside deviation over 5 years of Universal Investment Strategy is 1.42, which is greater, thus better compared to the benchmark SPY (1.13) in the same period.
- Looking at downside risk / excess return profile in of 1.45 in the period of the last 3 years, we see it is relatively greater, thus better in comparison to SPY (1.11).

'The Ulcer Index is a technical indicator that measures downside risk, in terms of both the depth and duration of price declines. The index increases in value as the price moves farther away from a recent high and falls as the price rises to new highs. The indicator is usually calculated over a 14-day period, with the Ulcer Index showing the percentage drawdown a trader can expect from the high over that period. The greater the value of the Ulcer Index, the longer it takes for a stock to get back to the former high.'

Using this definition on our asset we see for example:- Compared with the benchmark SPY (5.59 ) in the period of the last 5 years, the Ulcer Index of 2.28 of Universal Investment Strategy is lower, thus better.
- Compared with SPY (6.3 ) in the period of the last 3 years, the Ulcer Index of 2.55 is smaller, thus better.

'Maximum drawdown is defined as the peak-to-trough decline of an investment during a specific period. It is usually quoted as a percentage of the peak value. The maximum drawdown can be calculated based on absolute returns, in order to identify strategies that suffer less during market downturns, such as low-volatility strategies. However, the maximum drawdown can also be calculated based on returns relative to a benchmark index, for identifying strategies that show steady outperformance over time.'

Using this definition on our asset we see for example:- Compared with the benchmark SPY (-33.7 days) in the period of the last 5 years, the maximum drop from peak to valley of -16.9 days of Universal Investment Strategy is greater, thus better.
- Compared with SPY (-33.7 days) in the period of the last 3 years, the maximum drop from peak to valley of -16.9 days is higher, thus better.

'The Maximum Drawdown Duration is an extension of the Maximum Drawdown. However, this metric does not explain the drawdown in dollars or percentages, rather in days, weeks, or months. It is the length of time the account was in the Max Drawdown. A Max Drawdown measures a retrenchment from when an equity curve reaches a new high. It’s the maximum an account lost during that retrenchment. This method is applied because a valley can’t be measured until a new high occurs. Once the new high is reached, the percentage change from the old high to the bottom of the largest trough is recorded.'

Using this definition on our asset we see for example:- Looking at the maximum days under water of 139 days in the last 5 years of Universal Investment Strategy, we see it is relatively larger, thus worse in comparison to the benchmark SPY (139 days)
- During the last 3 years, the maximum days below previous high is 86 days, which is lower, thus better than the value of 119 days from the benchmark.

'The Average Drawdown Duration is an extension of the Maximum Drawdown. However, this metric does not explain the drawdown in dollars or percentages, rather in days, weeks, or months. The Avg Drawdown Duration is the average amount of time an investment has seen between peaks (equity highs), or in other terms the average of time under water of all drawdowns. So in contrast to the Maximum duration it does not measure only one drawdown event but calculates the average of all.'

Which means for our asset as example:- Compared with the benchmark SPY (32 days) in the period of the last 5 years, the average time in days below previous high water mark of 27 days of Universal Investment Strategy is smaller, thus better.
- During the last 3 years, the average days below previous high is 18 days, which is lower, thus better than the value of 23 days from the benchmark.

Historical returns have been extended using synthetic data.
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- Note that yearly returns do not equal the sum of monthly returns due to compounding.
- Performance results of Universal Investment Strategy are hypothetical, do not account for slippage, fees or taxes, and are based on backtesting, which has many inherent limitations, some of which are described in our Terms of Use.