Retirement Resource Centre - Outpacing Inflation - RBC Global Asset Management

Outpacing Inflation

Tips on managing the impact of inflation on your investments.


Whether you’re saving for or living in retirement, it’s important to be aware of inflation risk – that is, the risk that inflation will erode the value of your investments over the long term.

What is inflation?

Put simply, inflation is the general rise of the price of goods and services over time, which reduces your purchasing power.

How much would $100 buy?

Source: Bank of Canada, Average annual rate of inflation

Inflation can eat away at your investment returns, so it’s important for your wealth to grow at a faster rate. Fortunately, there are ways to mitigate the impact of inflation on your investments.

The importance of diversification

By building a diversified portfolio with the appropriate amount of equities and fixed income, your portfolio can potentially grow at a faster rate than inflation and help build wealth. Historically speaking, equities have delivered higher rates of return than other asset classes over time. Over the past 20 years both the S&P/TSX Composite Total Return Index and the S&P 500 Total Return Index posted average returns that outpaced inflation.

By investing in equity funds, you can benefit from the capital growth of the underlying companies, as well as any dividend income. It’s important to remember though that investing in equities involves higher risk than fixed income or cash, so take care to add only as much equity risk as you can handle.

20 Year Annualized Compound Returns

Although less dramatic, fixed income can also help preserve capital. Over the last 20 years, fixed income investments have also outpaced inflation and provided worthwhile capital appreciation. Fixed income investments are not all created equal, and therefore it is important to hold a diversified mix of fixed income investments in your portfolio. Each segment, however, reacts differently to changes in interest rates, the economic outlook and other market factors. There are specific risks involved in fixed-income investing, so ensure you work with your advisor to choose investments suitable to your risk tolerance and investment time horizon.

Keeping it real

When investing in bonds, a good way to outpace inflation is to choose fixed-income products that are specifically designed to address inflation risk. Real Return Bonds, for example, provide interest payments that rise with the rate of inflation, and floating-rate notes rise along with a benchmark interest rate. These products can help protect your purchasing power.

Laddering bonds for protection

Another approach is to ladder your fixed-income investments. A laddered bond portfolio consists of fixed-income securities that have staggered maturity dates (usually every year over a period of 5 or 10 years). The bonds will constantly be maturing, with the proceeds reinvested at regular intervals. Spreading out maturities in this way reduces exposure to any single bond or long-term interest rate.

In this era of low interest rates, it is important to incorporate strategies that are designed to help the growth of your investments outpace inflation.

For illustrative purposes only. Equity returns consist of capital gains and dividends; bond returns consist of capital gains and interest payments; T-bill returns consist of interest income based on the S&P/TSX Composite Total Return Index, FTSE TMX Canada Universe Bond Total Return Index, FTSE TMX Canada 91 DAY T-Bill Total Return Index respectively. Capital gains are deemed to be realized on December 31, 2016. The indicated rates of return are the historical annual compounded total returns for the periods indicated including changes in unit value and reinvestment of all distributions. Index returns do not reflect deduction of expenses associated with investments. If such expenses were reflected, returns would be lower. An investment cannot be made directly in an index. Inflation is approximated by the change in Consumer Price Index (CPI) each month. CPI source: Bank of Canada.

For more information on investment strategies to minimize inflation risk, talk to your financial advisor.

This information has been provided by RBC Global Asset Management Inc. (RBC GAM) and is for informational purposes only. It is not intended to provide legal, accounting, tax, investment, financial or other advice and such information should not be relied upon for providing such advice. The information contained herein is from sources believed to be reliable, but accuracy cannot be guaranteed. Please consult your advisor and read the prospectus or Fund Facts document before investing. There may be commissions, trailing commissions, management fees and expenses associated with mutual fund investments. Mutual funds are not guaranteed, their values change frequently and past performance may not be repeated. RBC Funds, BlueBay Funds and PH&N Funds are offered by RBC Global Asset Management Inc. and distributed through authorized dealers.

® / ™ Trademark(s) of Royal Bank of Canada. Used under licence. © RBC Global Asset Management Inc. 2017

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