How to tweak your investment strategy during times of inflation

September 29, 2022

While inflation rates may have peaked, we have seen it hit levels not seen in four decades, impacting the price of food, fuel, and other staples.

While higher interest rates are great news for savers, it’s not as clear what (if anything) investors should be doing about it. Save with SPP had a look around to see what people are saying about investment strategies in inflationary times.

According to Forbes magazine, there are “moves an investor can make right now that might alleviate their stress over inflation.”  The first idea, the magazine notes, is “to stay invested in equities.” Why? Because “a company facing rising costs, can simply offset them by raising prices, which raises revenue and earnings,” the article explains.

Any fixed income in your portfolio should be in the form of “high credit quality bonds,” but adding to this sector as rates climb is risky, Forbes warns. Consider investing in commodities via an exchange traded fund, the article suggests. Commodities include things like sugar, oil and gas, corn, pork bellies and other key goods.

Investopedia agrees that inflation “is generally a punch in the jaw for bonds,” and suggests increasing your exposure to equities by 10 per cent in inflationary times.  Other ideas from Investopedia include investing in international securities, from countries like Italy, Australia and South Korea. These are “major economies… that do not rise and fall in tandem with (North American) indices,” the article explains.

Real estate, the article continues, “often acts as a good inflation hedge since there will always be a demand for homes, regardless of the economic climate.” If actually buying real estate as an investment is beyond your means, you can still take part in the market via real estate investment trusts (REITs), the article explains.

“REITs are companies that own and operate portfolios of commercial, residential, and industrial properties. Providing income through rents and leases, they often pay higher yields than bonds,” the article notes.

Another idea from the Daily Mail is to consider being a bit of a saver within your portfolio to take advantage of high interest payouts.

“Britons are moving more of their cash into fixed-rate savings deals, with interest rates across the market rising on a daily basis,” the newspaper reports.

“A net £2.8 billion flowed into fixed-term cash deposits in July 2022, according to the latest figures from the Bank of England – the strongest flow seen since November 2010,” the magazine adds.

A second Forbes article talks about avoiding volatility in your portfolio.

“You want to buy stocks in companies that are likely—and I use that word ‘likely’ very carefully—to perform better than other companies in a rising rate environment,” BMO Nesbitt Burns’ John Sacke tells Forbes.

The article reminds us to keep an eye on our household budget and living costs in periods of inflation. In addition to thinking about your investments, the article suggests you “track your spending closely” and look for bargains.

Pay off any debt quickly in an environment when rates are going up, the article advises.

“StatsCan estimates the average consumer owes $1.73 in consumer credit and mortgage liabilities for every dollar of their income. This high debt-to-income ratio isn’t new, but the Bank of Canada’s current overnight rate of 2.5 per cent (which is 10 times higher than it was at the end of 2021) is making interest rates on loans higher, meaning those debts are even more expensive to pay off,” the article warns.

Other inflation-fighting tips include the use of cash-back credit cards and coupon clipping, as well as shopping apps.

Summing up what we found, there seems to be a belief that stocks are more likely to grow in value than bonds in a high-interest rate environment, and that real estate and international investments may be alternatives worth considering.

Now may be a good time to pick up a fixed-income investment with a guaranteed payout, like a guaranteed investment certificate. And at the same time, you have to watch your spending, and budget, to get through the choppy inflationary waters.

Save with SPP does not specifically endorse any of these strategies, and we recommend that you consider getting professional advice before making changes to your portfolio.

If all this is a little daunting, consider letting the Saskatchewan Pension Plan navigate the choppy investment seas for you. SPP’s Balanced Fund has exposure to Canadian and global equities and fixed income, as well as real estate, infrastructure, mortgages and other quality investments. Be sure to check out SPP today.

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Written by Martin Biefer

Martin Biefer is Senior Pension Writer at Avery & Kerr Communications in Nepean, Ontario. A veteran reporter, editor and pension communicator, he’s now a freelancer. Interests include golf, line dancing and classic rock, and playing guitar. Got a story idea? Let Martin know via LinkedIn.

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