Beyond a potential value play, precious metals also help diversify a traditional investment portfolio since these hard assets show low correlations to traditional stock and bonds, which is especially important in times of uncertainty.
“Commodity exposure in a multi-asset portfolio can add value,” Brian Novak, Senior Managing Director at Astor Investment Management, said.
Novak suggests advisors may adopt a kind of 50/30/20 portfolio instead of the traditional 60% stocks and 40% bond weights. Specifically, investors can still take a heavy 50% stock and 30% bond position but diversify with something like 5% gold, silver, platinum and palladium.
Over the past 15 year period, a portfolio of 60% S&P 500 stocks and 40% in Barclays Aggregate Bonds Index has generated a return of 3.95% with a Sharpe ratio of 0.04. Meanwhile, a 50% stock, 30% bond and 20% precious metals portfolio generated a 4.92% return with a 0.13 Sharpe ratio, or an improved risk-adjusted return over the same period.
Investors can gain exposure to these precious metals through a number of physically backed ETF options, including ETFS Physical Swiss Gold Shares (NYSEArca: SGOL), ETFS Physical Silver Shares (NYSEArca: SIVR), ETFS Physical Platinum Shares (NYSEArca: PPLT) and ETFS Physical Palladium Shares (NYSEArca: PALL). ETF investors can also use the ETFS Physical Precious Metals Basket Shares (NYSEArca: GLTR) as a catch-all of all four precious metals.
Mike Cameron, Head of Institutional Sales at ETF Securities, also pointed out that since it is difficult to time a rally for a particular precious metal, a broad precious metals basket exposure could potentially provide more consistent returns over the long run and increase diversification.
While many advisors have adopted ETFs, a large group have not diversified with alternative assets like commodities. In a survey of advisors on the webcasts, about 20% of respondents allocate over half of their portfolios to ETFs. However, 44% of those surveyed do not employ some form of commodity ETF in their portfolios.
Financial advisors who are interested in learning more about investment themes for the rest of the year can watch the webcast here on demand.