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ETF expert prefers an all-weather portfolio

Yves Rebetez, 52


Managing director and editor at ETF Insight

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The portfolio

Stocks include Tim Hortons Inc., Starbucks Corp., Toronto-Dominion Bank, Canadian Pacific Railway Ltd., and General Electric Co.; exchange-traded funds (ETFs) include BMO Nasdaq 100 Equity, Horizons AlphaPro Balanced, Horizons AlphaPro Global Dividend, and iShares Dow Jones Canada Select Growth Index Funds.

The investor

Yves Rebetez, a chartered financial analyst, is editor of ETF Insight (, an online resource devoted to ETFs. Previously he was a vice-president at RBC Dominion Securities Inc., where he specialized in ETFs and structured products.

How he invests

When Mr. Rebetez selects his investments, he is mindful of how they affect his overall risk level. He doesn't want a collection of "good ideas" whose returns tend to all move together and create a lot of volatility at the portfolio level; he would like to have some positions carry the ball when others are lagging.

As part of this process, investments are selected from a variety of categories, including defensive, yield, growth and value. The end result is a portfolio driven by several different factors so that some holdings can be expected to perform well when others might not be.

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For example, Tim Hortons and Starbucks are in the defensive category, so they should hold up well during economic downturns. The stability they provide is further enhanced by the fact they are "iconic brands" that rivals cannot easily displace.

Adding income and balance is the Horizons AlphaPro Global Dividend and Horizons AlphaPro Balanced ETFs. Mr. Rebetez also appreciates the "thoughtfulness" of the portfolio managers guiding these two active ETFs.

For growth, the BMO Nasdaq 100 ETF provides exposure to big-capitalization technology companies. Also, the iShares Dow Jones Canada Select Growth Fund ETF delivers growth-tilted exposure to the broad market; its low exposure to financial stocks helps him avoid overweighting the financial sector in his portfolio.

Best move

"Buying Teck Cominco in 2001, before it embarked on a spectacular, multiyear bull run driven by China's apparent insatiable appetite for our resources."

Worst move

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"Failing to appreciate how badly GE was going to be mauled by the global financial crisis of 2007-08, given its GE Capital holding."


"Learn as much as you can about the companies and ETFs – or any financial products – you buy. Understand your risk tolerance boundaries and your psychology as an investor."

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