15.4.4 Fixed-income Manager Styles

Explore the various styles of fixed-income managers and how their strategies differ based on term-to-maturity, credit quality, and interest rate anticipation. Learn about the terms, frequently asked questions, and key concepts in fixed-income management.

Fixed-Income Manager Styles

Fixed-income managers invest in products such as bonds, mortgage-backed securities, fixed-income mutual funds, exchange-traded funds (ETFs), and preferred shares. Their choices vary based on the product’s term to maturity, credit quality, or expectations regarding interest rates.

Term to Maturity

Short-term managers hold T-bills and short-term bonds with maturities of less than five years. Portfolios with these products are less volatile when interest rates rise because they have investments maturing soon that can be reinvested at the higher rates.

Medium-term managers focus on terms to maturity ranging from five to 10 years. Mortgage funds, which generally invest in high-quality residential mortgages (usually NHA insured) with terms of five years, are typical examples.

Long-term managers hold bonds with maturities greater than 10 years.

Credit Quality

Investment-grade bond quality ranges from Aaa to Baa3 as per Moody’s Long-Term Rating Scale (refer to Table 6.5 in Chapter 6). High-quality issuers include federal and provincial governments and well-capitalized corporations. Typically, lower quality bonds offer higher yields.

Managers balance return potential against the risk of default. Many bond portfolios have pre-set credit quality limits to manage this balance.

High-yield bonds, also called junk bonds, are non-investment grade products. These bonds typically offer higher yields but come with greater credit risks. Managers often favor high-yield bonds that mature in less than three years to mitigate risk.

Corporate issues generally have higher yields than comparable Government of Canada issues due to elevated credit risk. By selecting higher-quality corporate issues, managers can improve yield with minimal additional risk.

Another crucial factor is liquidity. Corporate bonds with lower ratings are less liquid than government bonds, making them difficult to sell in declining markets.

Interest Rate Anticipators

Some managers add value by anticipating interest rate direction and structuring portfolios accordingly. Interest rate anticipators extend the average term on bond investments when they foresee a decrease in interest rates and shorten it when they anticipate an increase.

Duration switching is a form of this strategy. It works best with a normal yield curve, where there’s a wide gap between short-term and long-term rates. In a flat yield curve, it is less beneficial to extend the term maturity.

Did You Know?

Duration is an approximate measure of a bond’s price sensitivity to changes in interest rates. If you anticipate falling rates, you could sell lower duration bonds and replace them with higher duration bonds to lengthen the portfolio’s average duration, increasing its price sensitivity. As rates fall, the heightened price sensitivity should lead to greater capital gains.

Portfolio Manager Styles

Different fund managers employ varying management styles. Understanding a manager’s style is crucial for anticipating how a portfolio will behave under different market conditions. Engage in online learning activities to assess your knowledge of portfolio manager styles.

Case Scenario

Help Sal with his questions about risk through various online learning activities. Test your understanding.

Key Terms & Definitions

Engage in identifying and understanding the key terms from this chapter through participatory online activities.

Key Takeaways

  1. Fixed-income managers’ strategies vary by term to maturity, ranging from short-term to long-term.
  2. Credit quality significantly affects the risk and return of bond investments.
  3. Interest rate anticipation and duration switching are strategies used based on forecasts of interest rates.
  4. Understanding different management styles is crucial for predicting portfolio behavior in varied market conditions.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are the types of bonds fixed-income managers might invest in?

Fixed-income managers might invest in government bonds, corporate bonds, mortgage-backed securities, and high-yield bonds.

How does term to maturity affect a portfolio?

Term to maturity affects how sensitive a bond’s price is to changes in interest rates—short-term bonds are less sensitive and hence less volatile compared to long-term bonds.

What is the relevance of credit quality in fixed-income investments?

Credit quality determines the risk of default; investment-grade bonds (higher credit quality) generally have lower risk and yield, while high-yield bonds offer higher returns but come with increased risk.

How do managers anticipate interest rates moving?

Managers analyze economic indicators, inflation rates, and central bank policies to predict interest rate movements, adjusting portfolio durations accordingly.


  • Bond: A fixed-income instrument that represents a loan made by an investor to a borrower.
  • Credit Quality: A measurement of a bond issuer’s ability to repay its debt obligations.
  • Duration: A measure of a bond’s sensitivity to interest rate changes.
  • Yield Curve: A line that plots the interest rates, at a set point in time, of bonds having equal credit quality but differing maturity dates.
  • High-Yield Bonds: Also known as junk bonds, these are bonds with a lower credit rating and consequently higher return but greater risk.

Charts and Diagrams

    graph TD;
	  A[Fixed-Income Manager Styles] --> B[Term to Maturity]
	  A --> C[Credit Quality]
	  A --> D[Interest Rate Anticipation]
	  B --> E[Short-term <5 years]
	  B --> F[Medium-term 5-10 years]
	  B --> G[Long-term >10 years]
	  C --> H[Investment-Grade]
	  C --> I[High-Yield/Junk Bonds]
	  D --> J[Duration Analysis]
	  D --> K[Yield Curve Analysis]

Figure: Hierarchical structure of Fixed-Income Manager Styles

Further Reading

  1. Introduction to the Portfolio Approach
  2. Moody’s Long-Term Rating Scale

📚✨ Quiz Time! ✨📚

🧐 Assess and Solidify Your Understanding

Welcome to the Knowledge Checkpoint! You’ll find 10 carefully curated quizzes designed to reinforce the key concepts covered. These questions will help you gauge your grasp of the material, identify areas that need further review, and ensure you’re on the right track towards mastering the content for the Canadian Securities certification exams. Take your time, think critically, and use these quizzes as a tool to enhance your learning journey. 📘✨

Good luck! 🍀💪

markdown ## What type of fixed-income products do fixed-income managers typically invest in? - [x] Bonds, mortgage-backed securities, fixed-income mutual funds, exchange-traded funds, and preferred shares - [ ] Stocks, options, hedge funds, and real estate - [ ] Cryptocurrencies, commodities, and forex - [ ] Precious metals, arts, and collectibles > **Explanation:** Fixed-income managers focus on bonds, mortgage-backed securities, fixed-income mutual funds, exchange-traded funds, and preferred shares, as these products provide regular income and are less volatile compared to equity and other investments. ## Which category of fixed-income managers holds T-bills and short-term bonds with maturities less than five years? - [x] Short-term managers - [ ] Medium-term managers - [ ] Long-term managers - [ ] Credit managers > **Explanation:** Short-term managers focus on managing securities like T-bills and short-term bonds with maturities less than five years to reduce volatility due to interest rate changes. ## Medium-term managers generally focus on investments with maturities in which range? - [ ] Less than five years - [x] Five to 10 years - [ ] Greater than 10 years - [ ] Two to four years > **Explanation:** Medium-term managers specialize in investments with maturities ranging from five to 10 years, like high-quality residential mortgages. ## Long-term managers typically hold bonds with maturities of greater than how many years? - [ ] Five years - [ ] Seven years - [ ] Nine years - [x] 10 years > **Explanation:** Long-term managers focus on bonds with maturities of greater than 10 years, which are sensitive to interest rate changes. ## What is the range of investment-grade bond ratings? - [ ] Aaa to Caa1 - [ ] Ba1 to Baa3 - [ ] Aaa to Ba1 - [x] Aaa to Baa3 > **Explanation:** Investment-grade bonds range in credit ratings from Aaa (highest) to Baa3 (lowest) according to Moody's rating scale. ## Which type of bonds is referred to as non-investment grade or junk bonds? - [ ] Government of Canada bonds - [ ] Provincial bonds - [ ] High-quality corporate bonds - [x] High-yield bonds > **Explanation:** Non-investment grade bonds, often called junk bonds, are classified as high-yield bonds due to their higher risk and yield. ## Managers who anticipate a decrease in interest rates typically take what action? - [x] Extend the average term on their bond investments - [ ] Shorten the average term on their bond investments - [ ] Maintain the current term on their bond investments - [ ] Switch to investing in stocks > **Explanation:** Managers expecting a decrease in interest rates extend the average term on their bond investments to benefit from rising bond prices. ## What is a strategy used when managers anticipate changes in interest rates? - [ ] Duration hacking - [x] Duration switching - [ ] Credit quality switching - [ ] Term-to-maturity adjustment > **Explanation:** Duration switching is a strategy used by managers to anticipate the direction of interest rates and adjust the portfolio's average duration accordingly. ## Which aspect of bond ratings directly affects the yield of the bond? - [ ] Bond maturity - [ ] Bond issuer's location - [ ] Bond features - [x] Bond credit quality > **Explanation:** The credit quality of bonds significantly affects their yield; lower quality bonds require higher yields to compensate investors for the additional risk. ## Managers investing in high-quality corporate issues benefit from which two factors compared to government issues? - [ ] Higher liquidity and lower yield - [x] Higher yield with minimal additional risk - [ ] Lower yield and lower risk - [ ] Higher liquidity and higher default risk > **Explanation:** High-quality corporate issues usually offer higher yields than government issues with only a marginal increase in risk, improving the portfolio's yield without significant risk.

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