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Six ways to keep your investment portfolio safe – Mint

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As 2021 offers hopes of getting back to normal life after the pandemic, this can be a great time to revisit your investment portfolio. Here is a simple six-point checklist:

Do you have an emergency fund to tide through emergency situations? Last year was a good reminder of the need for an emergency fund. Make sure you maintain around 6-12 months of your expense money in a safe debt fund or a fixed deposit.

Is your current asset allocation mix in line with your original plan? Given the recent equity rally, there is a good chance that your equity allocation is much higher than your original planned asset allocation. If your equity allocation exceeds the original asset allocation by more than 5%, it’s a good time to book some profits and realign them back to the original allocation.

Are you adequately diversified across different investment styles in your equity portfolio? The past few years have favoured the quality style and global equities. There is a good chance that you are over-allocated to equity products from these investment styles if you only went by past returns. Diversify equally across five investment styles—quality, value/contrarian, growth at reasonable price, mid & small cap and global equity—to create a well-diversified portfolio with low portfolio overlap.

Does your debt portion carry interest rate risk and credit risk? Duration risk and credit risk are legitimate ways for debt funds to increase their returns. However, they also come with risks. Credit funds have two major risks…

1. Credit risk: The risk of a net asset value (NAV) decline if underlying bonds default or get downgraded.

2. Liquidity risk: Given that lower credit quality papers cannot be sold easily in Indian bond markets, unexpected redemption pressures from investors can lead to closure (remember the Franklin saga?) or sharp NAV falls due to distress sale.

Similarly, funds with a higher duration run interest rate risk—the risk of a higher NAV decline if interest rates move up. Given that most of us view debt funds as an alternative to fixed deposits, the majority of your debt exposure should be in funds with low duration (less than three years to reduce interest rate risk) and high credit quality (>95% AAA and equivalent exposure to avoid credit risk). Even if you want to take interest rate risk or credit risk to improve returns, it is better to limit these risks to less than 30% of your overall debt exposure.

Do you have the right return expectations? Going forward, as interest rates have come down, your return expectations from both debt funds and fixed deposits should be much lower compared to what you enjoyed over the past three-five years. For debt funds, the return expectation should be centered around the current yield to maturity adjusted for expense ratio.

For equity markets, given the high valuations at the current juncture, the next three-five-year returns will be predominantly driven by the underlying earnings growth. While the past five years have had paltry earnings growth, it is reasonable to expect above-average earnings growth over the next five years.

This view is driven by early signs of economic recovery, no visible second wave of the virus, low base, cost-control measures from corporates, low-interest rates, government reforms, etc.

On the volatility side, while it is impossible to forecast, based on past history, a 10-20% intra-year correction is almost a given and should be considered to be normal equity market behaviour if at all it happens. If markets fall more than this, then this can be a good opportunity for increasing your equity allocation.

If markets fall, do you have a ‘what-if-things-go-wrong’ plan? Instead of making investment decisions in the middle of a market fall, a pre-loaded decision plan is a good way to approach the situation. Pre-decide on a portion of your debt allocation to be deployed into equities if in case the market corrects.

The above six checks can ensure that your portfolio is well-prepared for handling whatever 2021 has in store for all of us.

Arun Kumar is head of research, FundsIndia.

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Enforcement Notice – Hearing – IIROC Holds Hearing for Former Toronto Investment Advisor Neil DiCostanzo – Canada NewsWire

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TORONTO, Feb. 24, 2021 /CNW/ – A hearing has been scheduled before a Hearing Panel of the Investment Industry Regulatory Organization of Canada (IIROC) in the matter of Neil DiCostanzo.

The hearing concerns allegations that:

(a)  Between December 2016 and March 2018, Mr. DiCostanzo engaged in outside business activities without the approval of his Dealer Member by arranging investments in two companies for various clients, off the books and records of his Dealer Member – contrary to Dealer Member Rule 18.14.

IIROC formally initiated the investigation into Mr. DiCostanzo’s conduct in May 2018. The alleged violation occurred while he was a Registered Representative with the Toronto branch of Foster & Associates Financial Services Inc., an IIROC-regulated firm. Mr. DiCostanzo is no longer a registrant with an IIROC-regulated firm.

The hearing is open to the public, unless the Panel orders otherwise. Members of the public who would like to attend the hearing should contact IIROC’s National Hearing Coordinator at [email protected] to obtain the details. The decision of the Hearing Panel will be made available at www.iiroc.ca

Hearing Date: The hearing will be held by way of videoconference commencing April 26, 2021 at 10:00 a.m.

The Notice of Hearing and Statement of Allegations which sets out the allegations is available at:

DiCostanzo, Neil – Notice of Hearing and Statement of Allegations

Documents related to ongoing IIROC enforcement proceedings – including Reasons and Decisions of Hearing Panels – are posted on the IIROC website as they become available. Click here to search and access all IIROC enforcement documents.

*  *  *

IIROC is the pan-Canadian self-regulatory organization that oversees all investment dealers and their trading activity in Canada’s debt and equity markets. IIROC sets high quality regulatory and investment industry standards, protects investors and strengthens market integrity while supporting healthy Canadian capital markets. IIROC carries out its regulatory responsibilities through setting and enforcing rules regarding the proficiency, business and financial conduct of 175 Canadian investment dealer firms of varying sizes and business models, and their more than 30,000 registered employees. IIROC also sets and enforces market integrity rules regarding trading activity on Canadian debt and equity marketplaces.

IIROC investigates possible misconduct by its member firms and/or individual registrants. It can bring disciplinary proceedings which may result in penalties including fines, suspensions, permanent bars, expulsion from membership, or termination of rights and privileges for individuals and firms.

All information about disciplinary proceedings relating to current and former member firms is available in the Enforcement section of the IIROC website. Background information regarding the qualifications and disciplinary history, if any, of advisors currently employed by IIROC-regulated firms is available free of charge through the IIROC AdvisorReport service. Information on how to make investment dealer, advisor or marketplace-related complaints is available by calling 1 877 442-4322.

SOURCE Investment Industry Regulatory Organization of Canada (IIROC) – General News

For further information: Enforcement Contact: Charles Corlett, Vice President, Enforcement – Acting, 416 646-7253, [email protected]; Media Contact: Evelyn Tchakarov, Public Affairs Specialist, [email protected]

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Provincial investment in Nova Scotia's Sandpiper Ventures prompts public debate on supporting women in the workforce – BetaKit

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A $5 million investment made by the Nova Scotia government in women-focused venture firm Sandpiper Ventures has created a stir in the province, with proponents on both sides arguing over the best way to invest in women.

Earlier this month, outgoing premier Stephen McNeil announced the Government of Nova Scotia would contribute $5 million to the $20 million fund Sandpiper is currently raising, which is focused on investing in women-led startups.

“Women’s issues deserve drastically higher investment across all parts of society.”
– Jevon MacDonald, founder of Manifold

McNeil cited the disproportionate effect of the COVID-19 pandemic on women as motivation for the investment, creating a need to invest in women-led entrepreneurship. Some child care advocates have taken issue with that reasoning.

The public discussion has included not only child care advocates and organizations, but Nova Scotia NDP House Leader Claudia Chender, who has argued that the money is better spent elsewhere.

A number of child care advocates that recently spoke with the CBC pointed to a need for investment in child care in Nova Scotia, arguing its lack as one of the main reasons women have exited the workforce amid the pandemic, and that it remains a big obstacle to them returning. Some called for the $5 million contributed to Sandpiper to be spent on child care instead.

“To put it into a venture capital fund is not only out of touch with what parents need, it’s actually pretty insulting to all of the women in this province who run home daycare businesses,” said one such advocate, Hannah Munday, a former private daycare operator.

Chender has also spoken out publicly, both social media and with other media outlets, echoing those calls.

While the NDP House Leader said the acknowledgment of a gender divide emphasized by COVID-19 is positive, she questioned whether investment in the private sector and startups actually benefit Nova Scotians.

One organization, Solidarity Kjipuktuk / Halifax, an anti-capitalist group in Nova Scotia, put out a press release demanding that newly-appointed premier Iain Rankin rescind the $5 million, calling it a “corporate giveaway.”

Members of the country’s tech community have spoken out against such arguments, however, calling out the idea of pitting the two issues against each other. Members of Canada’s tech ecosystem have stepped in to argue that it should not be a question about investing in child care or venture capital, but both.

This isn’t an either / or,” wrote Jevon MacDonald, founder of Manifold and co-founder of tech community group StartupNorth, via Twitter. “Women’s issues deserve drastically higher investment across all parts of society.”

Michelle McBane, managing partner of women-focused VC fund StandUp Ventures, questioned whether the investment would have been a topic of discussion if Sandpiper did not have a women-focused investment thesis.

Speaking with BetaKit, Sandpiper co-founder and managing partner Rhiannon Davies lamented some of the criticism. She acknowledged the need to invest in child care and the barrier it still creates for women in the workforce, but noted the importance of investing in women-led innovation and entrepreneurship as another important way to empower women in the workforce. Davies went further, expressing frustration that child care was being pitted against investing in a women-focused VC fund as two women issues, calling child care a societal issue.

The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the child care issue across Canada, disproportionately pushing women out of the labour force.

A successful recovery from this labour diaspora is dependent on many factors coming together. The Ontario Chamber of Commerce noted last fall the need for flexible work arrangements, affordable child-care offerings and training for new jobs, calling them all key to helping women return to the workforce.

Investing in women-led businesses is another way to further economic freedom and empowerment for women. In recent years, a number of women-focused venture funds have popped up to do just that. In Western Canada, women-led group The51 is raising a fund to invest in female-led companies and McBane’s StandUp Ventures has been doing so since 2017. BDC’s Women in Technology Venture Fund is another such fund.

The Government of Canada’s Women Entrepreneurship Strategy also highlights the power of such investments on the economy, noting the potential to add $150 billion in incremental GDP in Canada by 2026.

Davies told BetaKit Sandpiper’s position is that there is a need for both investment in child care and venture capital in order to create overall structural improvements for women in the workforce.

Photo by Standsome Worklifestyle on Unsplash

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Big Rock Reporters Big Results on Investment in NeuroRx – Baystreet.ca

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Big Rock Partners Acquisition Corp. (NASDAQ:BRPA) shares rose Wednesday trading.

NeuroRx, which has signed an agreement to complete a business combination with Big Rock Partners Acquisition, said Tuesday ZYESAMI has successfully demonstrated 10-day accelerated recovery from respiratory failure in critically ill patients with COVID-19 treated with high flow nasal oxygen at 28-day interim endpoint.

The clinical trial was originally approved as a 28-day study at Food and Drug Administration’s direction. In December, NeuroRx added a 60-day endpoint based on the recognition that the traditional 28-day endpoint adopted in the 1990s for trials in Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome is not appropriate for critically ill patients with COVID-19, who are frequently maintained in the ICU with advanced technologies well beyond this time point. NeuroRx and other clinical trial sponsors alerted FDA to this trend.

Yesterday, the FDA published formal guidance changing the required time for measuring the pre-specified endpoint of “alive and free of respiratory failure” in critically ill patients to 60 days.

At 28 days, patients treated with ZYESAMI™ demonstrate 35% higher likelihood of recovery from respiratory failure with continued survival compared to patients treated with placebo. In tertiary care hospitals, ZYESAMI-treated patients were 46% more likely to recover and return home before day 28.

BRPA shares galloped $6.29, or 14.4%, to $49.90.

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