Fixed income investment refers to an investment strategy in which an investor lends money to an entity, typically a government or a corporation, in exchange for regular interest payments and the return of the principal amount at the end of a specified period. It is considered a more conservative investment option compared to equities (stocks) as it offers a predictable stream of income and generally carries lower risk.
Key characteristics of fixed income investments include:
1. Regular Interest Payments
When an investor purchases a fixed income investment, they are essentially lending money to the issuer. In return, the issuer promises to make regular interest payments to the investor over the life of the investment. These payments are often made semi-annually or annually.
2. Principal Repayment
At the end of the investment term, the issuer is obligated to return the original principal amount to the investor. This makes fixed income investments relatively more secure compared to stocks, where the value can be more volatile.
3. Lower Risk Profile
Fixed income investments are generally considered to have lower risk compared to equities. However, the level of risk can vary depending on the creditworthiness of the issuer. Government bonds are typically considered lower risk due to the backing of the government, while corporate bonds carry more risk depending on the financial health of the issuing corporation.
4. Diverse Options
Fixed income investments come in various forms, including government bonds, municipal bonds, corporate bonds, certificates of deposit (CDs), and more. Each type has its own risk and return profile.
5. Interest Rate Sensitivity
The value of fixed income investments can be sensitive to changes in interest rates. When interest rates rise, the value of existing fixed income securities may decrease, and vice versa.
6. Investment Horizon
Fixed income investments have specified maturities, ranging from short-term (a few months) to long-term (decades). Investors can choose investments that align with their investment horizon and financial goals.
Examples of fixed income investments include:
Issued by national governments to fund public projects. Considered relatively low risk due to the backing of the government.
Issued by corporations to raise capital for business operations or projects. Riskier than government bonds due to the credit risk of the issuing company.
Issued by state and local governments to fund public infrastructure projects. Interest income may be exempt from federal taxes.
Certificates of Deposit (CDs)
Time deposits offered by banks with a fixed term and interest rate. Generally considered very low risk.
Treasury Bills (T-bills)
Short-term government securities with maturities ranging from a few days to one year.
Fixed income investments are popular among investors seeking a steady income stream and more stable returns. They are often included in investment portfolios as a way to balance the potential volatility of equities. However, it's important for investors to carefully assess their risk tolerance, investment goals, and the specific characteristics of fixed income securities before making investment decisions.
Learn more about the difference between earned, passive and investment income