Since many of today’s advisors got into the business during the 1980s and 90s, in what was the best stock market in U.S. history, most have become stock market specialists. Frankly, if they do fixed income, it’s usually an afterthought, and most will simply take the easy way out and invest their clients’ money in bond mutual funds. What many people don’t realize is that bond mutual funds carry risks, costs, and tax implications that can be reduced, or even eliminated, by investing in a diversified portfolio of individual bonds, or other fixed-income securities.
That’s because when an investor buys an individual bond, they have two important guarantees. First, they’re guaranteed a fixed rate of interest for the life of the bond. Secondly, when the bond matures, they’re guaranteed their principal back – assuming there have been no defaults. With that assumption, an investor knows exactly what they’re going to earn on the bond that they hold to maturity, they know at what date it will mature, and they know the name of the company they are invested in.