Investing the Reserve Fund: How to Maximize Return and Minimize Risk
From the Volume 12, Summer 2022 issue of the CCI GHC Condo News Magazine
This time last year many boards were decrying investing in GICs and citing low returns. With the rise in recent volatility and pullbacks in everything from stocks, bonds, gold, and even potentially real estate, boards can feel confident that the reserve funds are protected.
Eligible investments as defined by the Condominium Act, 1998, S.O. 1998, c. 19.:
The Board may invest operating and reserve funds only in “eligible securities”, defined in Section 115(5), as bonds, debentures, guaranteed investment certificates, deposit receipts, certificates of deposit, term deposits or similar instruments that:
•Are issued or guaranteed by the Government of Canada or the government of any province of Canada; or
•Are issued by an institution located in Ontario insured by the Canada Deposit Insurance Corporation or the Deposit Insurance Corporation of Ontario; or
•Are securities of a prescribed class (currently there are no securities of a prescribed class).
When we are assisting our boards in developing an investment strategy, we have them focus on what we consider to be the three most important areas for boards to consider :
i.Principal protection of investments and adherence to the Condominium Act.
ii.Liquidity of funds and how to meet expenditure requirements with effective planning.
iii.Maximizing investment returns.
I always say there are only three ways to get money into the reserve fund. Special assessments, raise fees, or invest better. I know where I like to start.
Having an investment plan is required prior to engaging in investing the reserve fund, as defined by the Condominium Act, 1998, S.O. 1998, c. 19.
An example would be that a board has $1,000,000 in the reserve fund and is doing a roof replacement next year for $250,000. What do they do with the remaining funds? The board could keep the funds in the bank account, create a simple laddering strategy of 1-3 years or 1-5 years, or they can develop a detailed plan that takes into consideration requirements of the reserve fund study and the cash flow needs of the corporation over multiple periods. An effective plan would have components of all strategies.
First, you could invest the funds earmarked for specific capital projects; in this case, a new roof. To satisfy this objective you could buy GICs timed to mature when the required payments are due to the roofing contractors. An alternative is a high-interest savings account. Next, you could allocate the balance of the $1,000,000 into GICs in equal amounts and build a ladder of GICs. (i.e. a staggered portfolio of GICs going forward five years, with $150,000 in GICs maturing in one year, another $150,000 maturing in two years, a third $150,000 maturing in three years, a fourth $150,000 maturing in four years and the last $150,000 in the fifth year).
At the end of one year, assuming there's no need for the funds at the time of maturity and that there are no planned capital projects, you could simply reinvest those funds out another five years, thus maintaining the five year ladder. As a result, your portfolio would always have 20% of your reserve funds due one year in the future, thereby dealing with the issue of liquidity.
Boards would be well served by creating an Investment plan that is reflective of the current finances and budget, forecasted expenditures from the reserve fund study and the available investments. This will assist them in creating a plan that has the most amount of flexibility with the best possible return.
When selecting GICs, board members should keep in mind that there is a limit of $100,000 of Canadian Deposit Insurance Corporation (CDIC) coverage per member institution and $250,000 per Deposit Insurance Corporation of Ontario (DICO) that insures most deposits in credit unions or caisses populaires in Ontario. CIBC Wood Gundy can provide one investor with GICs from several different member institutions, therefore keeping your funds fully insured. In addition, GICs made available by brokerage firms often carry higher interest rates than those purchased directly at the bank. In effect, by purchasing GICs through a brokerage firm, a board may be able to obtain higher rates and maximum CDIC insurance protection, thereby providing a better alternative to the traditional bank branch offerings.
While interest rates have risen as expected, the Central Banks are trying to walk a fine line of increases without slowing down the economy. Much of the rate increases are already reflected in the current investment rates offered.
Many of our boards have asked about rising rates and if they should wait to invest. We have spoken about the cost of waiting to invest, and how much interest rates would have to rise to make up for waiting for those higher rates while getting a lower return. Typically, it is in the boards interest to implement a plan that is tailored to their cash flow needs rather than timing interest rate changes. Working with an investment partner that can review this for the board is valuable.
You do not have to lock in for 5 years to get a great rate as the difference between 3, 4, and 5-year GICs are minimal. If you feel that rates have peaked and may come back down in the future to support growth again, a 5-year makes sense. If not, 3-year would be an effective duration.
Regardless of whether you use a 3- or 5-year ladder, there will be of opportunity to benefit from higher rates in the next 1 to 2 years. With laddering, you take the proceeds of a maturing GIC and invest it in a new GIC of 3 or 5 years - whichever you’re using as the maximum term in your ladder.
If rates are higher in a year, you benefit reinvesting at a higher rate. If rates are lower, you are protected with only a portion of your funds rolling over at the lower rate. The rest stays invested at higher rates.
In either scenario it would be in the best interest to engage with a qualified professional to support the board with the investment process.
Will MacKay, CFP, CIM
Investment Advisor, Portfolio Manager
The MacKay Financial Group
CIBC Wood Gundy
CIBC Private Wealth consists of services provided by CIBC and certain of its subsidiaries, including CIBC Wood Gundy, a division of CIBC World Markets Inc. The CIBC logo and “CIBC Private Wealth” are trademarks of CIBC, used under license. “Wood Gundy” is a registered trademark of CIBC World Markets Inc. This information, including any opinion, is based on various sources believed to be reliable, but its accuracy cannot be guaranteed and is subject to change. CIBC and CIBC World Markets Inc., their affiliates, directors, officers and employees may buy, sell, or hold a position in securities of a company mentioned herein, its affiliates or subsidiaries, and may also perform financial advisory services, investment banking or other services for, or have lending or other credit relationships with the same. CIBC World Markets Inc. and its representatives will receive sales commissions and/or a spread between bid and ask prices if you purchase, sell or hold the securities referred to above. © CIBC World Markets Inc. 2022. For GIC terms of one year or less, simple interest is paid at maturity. For GIC terms of greater than one year simple interest is paid annually or compound interest is calculated annually and paid at maturity. For more information about this product, please contact your Investment Advisor. Will MacKay is an Investment Advisor with CIBC Wood Gundy in Mississauga. The views of Will MacKay do not necessarily reflect those of CIBC World Markets Inc. Yields/rates are as of May 17, 2022 and are subject to availability and change without notification. Minimum investment amounts may apply.
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