Breaking Canadian home country bias

Breaking Canadian home country bias

Breaking Canadian home country bias by Nicolas Heffernan

In a win for advisors, more Canadians investing for their retirement are increasingly looking to diversify their portfolios with global equities in an attempt to boost returns.

"While it's natural for investors to have a 'home bias' by overweighting your portfolio to domestic stocks, taking a Canada-only approach can hurt returns," says Luc de la Durantaye, Managing Director, Asset Allocation and Currency Management, CIBC Asset Management.

"Canada accounts for only about 3% of the world's market capitalization, so diversifying geographically can strengthen your portfolio for the long-term. It significantly broadens your investment options and helps to mitigate risk."

Despite the lower loonie, as many as 41% of investors say they are looking for opportunities outside of Canada, up sharply from 31% last year, according to a new CIBC poll.

Of the 41%, 15% plan to add exposure to the U.S., 15% intend to invest in emerging markets and 11% are looking to invest in developed markets.

The poll also showed that recent market volatility and the lower loonie are prompting nearly a quarter 22% of investors to look at so-called "alternative asset" classes, such as real estate or infrastructure, as a way to diversify and gain exposure to growth. Another 26% said they wanted to learn more about alternative asset classes.

"Adding carefully selected alternative investments to a portfolio of traditional stocks and bonds is another way to diversify and can help to reduce your portfolio's overall risk," says de la Durantaye. "With resources and financials the two biggest weights in Canada's equity markets, it's important that investors diversify their holdings both geographically and between asset classes to help them meet their long-term investment goals.”