Alternative Investment

‘TINA is gone’: Money manager says GICs giving investors an alternative to stocks

As return rates of guaranteed investment certificates (GICs) rise, they’re providing an alternative for investors who have for years been forced to put their money into the stock market to find any sort of meaningful yield, according to the head of one Bay Street investment firm.

“TINA is gone,” Lyle Stein, president of Forvest Global Wealth Management, said in a broadcast interview Thursday.

TINA is an acronym in the finance world that stands for “there is no alternative,” and the premise behind it is that the only place to find significant investment returns was stocks when interest rates were ultra low.

“GICs are now affording that alternative,” Stein said.

He gave the example of comparing Royal Bank of Canada’s four per cent dividend yield to the return of a GIC, while acknowledging that the different tax treatment of dividends and interest income could come into play.

“The question is will Royal’s growth over the next five years — if you’re buying a five-year GIC or four-year or whatever — be better so that the stock price goes up relative to a comparable yield,” he said.

Many GIC products with terms of at least one year now have return rates that exceed four per cent. They also offer more security than volatile stocks since money invested in GICs is guaranteed.

This week, executives from Royal Bank of Canada said on a conference call that investors have been moving money out of the bank’s mutual funds and into GICs. The executives said $10 billion has flowed into GIC products in recent months.

Stein said, as an asset allocator, it’s his job to put money into vehicles where it will earn the most secure return to meet client needs.

“Investing is about basically saying, ‘Where do I want to allocate my money today, to meet my needs at some point in the future,’” he said.

“And if you can do that with a high degree of certainty — there is in effect no risk. If you need $25 five years from now — are you better off putting $100 into a five-year GIC or playing the market, knowing that you may not have that $25 that you need? You can decrease your risk by matching the investment you make to when you need the money.”

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