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Could a Tax-Loss Selling Strategy Help with Preferred Share Pain?

Horizons ETFs

Preferred shares – a hybrid security that offers both stock and bond-like features – have historically been a popular investment choice for Canadians seeking tax-advantaged dividend income and diversification away from traditional equities and fixed income investments.

In particular, ETFs have been a popular way for advisors and investors looking to access the preferred shares marketplace. Today, there are approximately $6.5 billion in assets under management across 29 preferred share ETFs listed in Canada*.

In 2022, the sell-off in Canadian-listed Preferred Shares has been severe. Year-to-date, as at September 30, 2022, the S&P/TSX Preferred Share Index is down nearly more than -15% on a total return basis.

According to Fiera Capital, one of Canada’s largest asset managers of preferred share securities, the outlook for the preferred share market could remain challenging into 2023 as widened credit spreads persist and broader equity market disruption continues.

But in the mid-term, long-term and into 2024, Fiera Capital sees an opportunity in the preferred share and hybrid security space. For new investors, recent valuations could offer an attractive entry point into the marketplace.

S&P/TSX Preferred Share Index (TR) -6.08 -15.34 19.35 26.70
Solactive Canadian Laddered Preferred Share Index (TR) -6.52 -14.94 23.85 32.07
FTSE Canada All Corporate Universe (spread change/bps) 6.00 58.00 -6.00 13.00
Canada 5-year rate (yield change/bps) 22.00 207.00 87.00 -42.00

The majority of preferred shares listed in Canada are referred to as fixed for floating rate-reset preferred shares and they make up more than 70% of the market capitalization of the S&P/TSX Preferred Share Index. These preferred share issuances pay a coupon that is a set spread above the five-year government of Canada bond yield. With interest rates rising, it means the yield on these issuances can technically move to a higher yield when they reset – typically every five years. This means there is ample built-in structural protection against rising interest rates with these preferred shares.


For current preferred share holders who want to take advantage of their tax-loss position while maintaining a position within the preferred share universe – especially if there’s an opportunity to get exposure to a preferred share market rebound – there’s a strategy that could help offer a potential solution.

For example, if the Canadian five-year were to exceed 4%, many of these issuances would have rate reset yields in excess of 7%.

Fiera believes that liquidity and credit concerns amidst the worst returns in fixed income in 20 years, has driven valuations of preferred shares too low relative to their potential future value, particularly if rates were to pause, but many of the issuances reset to yields that are significantly higher than other forms of debt.

One way for investors to remain in a position on this universe of stocks, while still creating a potential net benefit for their overall portfolio performance is to consider tax-loss selling as a strategy to help with ‘Preferred Share pain’.

Tax-Loss Selling 101

One actionable investment option during a severe market correction is known as tax-loss selling or tax-loss harvesting. Canadian ETFs provide ample selection to allow investors to exit a position in one security, it could be a single preferred share issue, ETF, or even mutual fund, and buy a corresponding ETF with similar exposure. By doing so, investors can potentially harvest capital losses while also maintaining exposure to key long-term sectors.

Simply put, tax-loss selling is a strategy that can help mitigate capital gains taxation. The practice of tax-loss selling involves deliberately selling a security or fund at a capital loss, where the price at which it is sold is below the adjusted cost base or original purchase price.

The aim is to use the loss realized from such a sale to offset any capital gains realized on other investments during the year.

While losing money on an investment is never ideal, a realized capital loss can be useful for those who invest outside of a registered account and are looking for a trading strategy that will help them reduce taxes to be paid on capital gains. Generally, a realized capital loss can be used to offset realized capital gains in the current year, or it can be carried back as far as three years. It can also be carried forward indefinitely.

There is a caveat, however: Canadian tax law requires that a seller (or an affiliated person, such as a spouse) may not purchase the same security (or identical security) as the one on which they are claiming a loss within the 30 calendar days before or after the sale of the security in order to be able to claim the full amount of the capital loss on the position.

This is where ETFs may come in handy. You could sell a preferred share or fund to realize a capital loss and then, during the 30-day waiting period, invest the proceeds in an ETF that tracks that stock or fund’s industry, sector, or asset class. After the 30-day waiting period, you could keep the ETF, or sell it and switch back to the security you originally sold to realize the capital loss.

An identical security is one that is so similar to another in substance and structure that the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) does not recognize a difference between the two, including, but not limited to, new and old securities issued by a corporation that has undergone reorganization.

Investors are rightfully hesitant to sell securities at a loss because many typically expect the valuations of a security or fund to turn around following a decline. However, investors don’t have to meaningfully exit their exposure when using the tax-loss selling technique.

Consider that, at the time of this writing, the S&P/TSX Preferred Share Index is down more than -15% on a year-to-date basis. Many investors are likely sitting on some losses, either in a position on a Preferred Shares ETF or in some of the highly correlated underlying constituents. Some investors may be hesitant to exit long-term positions in the index or its underlying stocks.

An investor, depending on when they originally bought a position – and at what cost – may be able to sell that security to crystalize a capital loss and still maintain exposure to the preferred shares market.

Important Considerations for Tax-Loss Selling

  1. Tax-loss selling can only be applied to investments sold within non-registered accounts
  2. “Identical” securities are not eligible; however, ETFs that offer similar exposure but with different management strategies could be eligible
  3. Consider the “Inclusion Rate”, your allowable capital loss for the reported year. Since 2001, the inclusion rate has been ½ (50%)
  4. To accumulate a loss position, tax-loss selling must be exercised within the same calendar year that the loss occurred


Horizons Will Cover Trading Costs of Certain In-Kind Switches into HPR, HYBR and HLPR

Investors who want to sell units of a Canadian-listed preferred share ETF and move into one of the Horizons preferred share ETFs can take advantage of our in-kind subscription process. If they switch to one of the three preferred share ETFs offered by Horizons ETFs, Horizons Active Preferred Share ETF (HPR), the Horizons Active
Hybrid Bond And Preferred Share ETF (HYBR)
or the Horizons Laddered Canadian Preferred Share Index ETF (HLPR), Horizons ETFs will pay for certain transaction costs associated with that in-kind switch (typically ½ a penny a share).

We will also apply this offer to any investors who wish to sell their units of a Horizons ETFs’ managed preferred share ETF and switch to another Horizons ETFs’ managed preferred share ETF. For example, investors could transfer units of HPR in-kind into HYBR or HLPR.

This means that ETF investors in certain eligible index ETFs will have a way to successfully harvest losses on the 2022 tax year, with virtually no additional trading costs associated with the transaction.

Horizons ETFs has developed a formal process to help our clients achieve pricing efficiencies in subscriptions and redemptions of our ETFs by working with market makers to facilitate ’End-of-Day’ ETF trades, which would be executed at the ETF’s end-of-day’s net-asset-value (NAV), plus a small trading commission (Horizons ETFs will be paying this cost).

In this case, any investor who uses this ‘End-of-Day’ process to sell (switch) the preferred share ETFs they currently hold between now and December 16, 2022, as part of an in-kind purchase of either HPR, HYBR or HLPR, would receive NAV vs NAV on the switch and not have to pay transaction costs (typically the banks charge ½ penny per share). Horizons ETF will cover those costs directly with the market-maker that executes the trade.

This process would only apply to in-kind switches of Canadian ETFs, for HPR, HYBR or HLPR, and would not extend to in-kind switches of individual preferred shares into these ETFs.

Which Preferred Share ETFs are Eligible?

In the tables below, we have highlighted the Canadian-listed Preferred Share ETFs that would be eligible for tax-loss selling and cost-covered in-kind transfers into Horizons ETFs’ three preferred shares ETFs.

In all cases, these ETFs are at a loss on both a year-to-date basis and a one-year basis, making them attractive targets as a tax-loss harvesting opportunity, where an investor can sell the position at a loss, harvest losses, and then buy HPR, HYBR or HLPR for highly correlated exposure.

Name Ticker 1mo (%) 3mo (%) 6mo (%) YTD (%) 1yr (%) 3yr (%) 5yr (%) 10yr (%) Since Inception (%) Inception date
CI Preferred Share ETF FPR -0.09 -4.52 -5.29 -12.99 -13.24 5.31 2.29 4.76 2016-05-11
TD Active Preferred Share ETF TPRF -0.20 -5.28 -6.71 -13.56 -14.20 8.20 3.70 2018-11-08
Evolve Active Canadian Preferred Share Fund DIVS -0.53 -6.27 -5.57 -13.82 -14.27 2.45 -1.65 -1.00 2017-09-27
Desjardins Canadian Preferred Share ETF DCP -0.73 -6.25 -6.90 -14.67 -15.24 4.83 0.61 1.45 2017-04-03
Dynamic Active Preferred Shares ETF DXP -0.59 -5.39 -6.36 -14.95 -15.51 6.39 1.64 3.70 2017-01-20
BMO Laddered Preferred Share Index ETF ZPR -0.82 -6.47 -7.11 -15.12 -15.67 5.07 0.63 0.17 0.17 2012-11-14
Horizons Laddered Canadian Preferred Share Index HLPR -0.51 -6.26 -7.17 -15.58 -16.00 4.96 3.16 2019-02-26
RBC Canadian Preferred Share ETF RPF -0.61 -6.42 -7.25 -15.92 -16.45 4.95 0.16 4.11 2016-09-14
Horizons Active Hybrid Bond and Preferred Share ETF HYBR -1.54 -6.85 -7.84 -16.19 -16.74 5.82 0.51 1.78 2013-10-01
Purpose Canadian Preferred Share Fund RPS -1.23 -7.18 -7.94 -16.38 -17.93 7.13 0.33 0.96 2017-03-15
NBI Active Canadian Preferred Shares ETF NPRF -1.07 -6.98 -8.08 -17.12 -17.73 5.51 4.23 2019-01-15
Horizons Active Preferred Share ETF HPR -1.35 -7.14 -8.30 -17.50 -17.93 4.54 0.28 1.65 2.38 2010-11-22
Lysander-Slater Preferred Share ActivETF PR -4.52 -9.60 -10.38 -18.66 -19.19 3.31 -0.80 1.79 2015-08-10
iShares S&P/TSX Canadian Preferred Share Index ETF CPD 0.15 -12.41 -13.17 -22.45 -24.21 1.53 -1.27 -2.58 -0.01 2007-04-10

Source: Morningstar, as at October 31, 2022.

While the limited-time offer of trading cost coverage is not extended to individual preferred share securities, they may still be eligible for tax-loss harvesting and in-kind transfers into Horizons suite of preferred share ETFs.

Fiera Capital, the sub-advisor to Horizons ETFs’ Preferred Share ETFs, will consider the eligibility of individual Preferred Share securities for in-kind transfers on a case-by-case basis.

Below is a list of individual Preferred Share securities that would be considered by Fiera Capital for in-kind transfer eligibility. Please note that the list is not exhaustive: we have included the top 20 largest Preferred Shares securities within the S&P/TSX Preferred Share Index.

Security Name Description 1mo (%) 3mo (%) 6mo (%) YTD (%) 1yr (%) 3yr (%) 5yr (%) 10yr (%) Since Inception (%) Inception date Correlation*
Great-West Lifeco Inc GWOCN 4.85 PERP -1.33 -8.38 -8.65 -23.11 -21.51 -1.46 0.61 2.24 0.25 08-12-2005 0.89
Enbridge Inc ENBCN 4.449 PERP -0.66 -7.01 -7.48 -15.53 -19.74 7.86 0.42 0.80 1.19 12-12-2013 0.86
Great-West Lifeco Inc GWOCN 5.2 PERP -0.20 -6.40 -9.29 -18.88 -16.76 -1.11 0.93 37.68 2.51 09-14-2004 0.86
Toronto-Dominion Bank TD 3.681 PERP -3.89 -11.54 -7.08 -19.84 -20.62 8.55 -0.02 0.34 4.28 07-31-2014 0.85
Enbridge Inc ENBCN 4.073 PERP -0.92 -7.71 -7.72 -14.71 -18.84 7.94 0.36 0.80 4.66 12-05-2012 0.85
Power Financial Corp PWFCN 4.8 PERP -0.93 -8.27 -10.20 -23.05 -22.65 -0.85 0.59 2.02 2.48 02-28-2013 0.84
Power Financial Corp PWFCN 5 ¼ PERP -0.12 -7.26 -9.09 -17.94 -17.13 -0.70 1.01 3.16 4.85 11-29-2001 0.84
Canadian Utilities Ltd CUCN 4.9 PERP 0.52 -8.96 -5.67 -20.08 -19.30 -0.98 0.37 1.80 3.38 07-05-2012 0.83
Power Financial Corp PWFCN 5 ½ PERP 1.49 -5.40 -8.26 -13.59 -12.40 -0.17 1.85 3.75 1.19 12-16-1997 0.83
Great-West Lifeco Inc GWOCN 4 ½ PERP -2.18 -10.21 -10.13 -26.23 -25.85 -1.71 0.03 1.46 3.87 04-12-2006 0.83
Toronto-Dominion Bank TD 3.201 PERP -9.33 -11.76 -11.02 -20.94 -21.13 4.83 -1.00 0.09 -0.91 03-10-2015 0.83
Great-West Lifeco Inc GWOCN 4.8 PERP -1.24 -8.49 -9.75 -23.47 -22.51 -1.82 0.31 1.96 -2.33 10-11-2012 0.83
BCE Inc BCECN 3.306 PERP 1.30 -4.52 -10.99 -25.13 -23.63 8.01 -0.71 -0.71 3.86 07-05-2011 0.82
Great-West Lifeco Inc GWOCN 5.15 PERP 0.91 -6.70 -6.00 -17.67 -16.75 -1.23 0.76 2.33 2.22 07-06-2012 0.82
Fortis Inc-Canada FTSCN 4.393 PERP 1.48 -1.90 -4.66 -16.31 -18.09 8.96 1.90 1.77 1.23 05-23-2008 0.82
Brookfield Asset Management Inc BAMACN 4 ¾ PERP 3.53 -5.11 -4.87 -21.24 -21.15 0.54 2.22 2.55 1.97 05-09-2007 0.82
Toronto-Dominion Bank TD 3.242 PERP -2.37 -4.68 -3.51 -16.28 -16.35 6.39 -0.02 0.71 1.36 04-24-2015 0.81
Bank of Montreal BMO 3.852 PERP -4.46 -10.13 -7.58 -18.00 -18.24 8.70 0.50 -0.11 1.54 04-23-2014 0.81
Fortis Inc-Canada FTSCN 3.913 PERP -2.08 -6.55 -9.84 -21.08 -22.95 7.64 -0.39 -0.02 3.22 09-19-2014 0.81
Enbridge Inc ENBCN 2.983 PERP -1.19 -6.25 -9.35 -18.66 -23.59 4.40 -2.11 -0.78 1.62 09-23-2014 0.81

Source: Morningstar, as at October 31, 2022.
*Correlated to the S&P/TSX Preferred Share Index

Key Reasons to Consider Tax-Loss Selling on Preferred Share ETFs

1. There Could Be More Upside than Downside in Store for Preferred Shares

While weak performance has been the story for preferred shares throughout 2022, there are several factors that could signal that there is more upside than downside in store for the asset class in 2023 and beyond.

This year, rising interest rates have had a significant impact on fixed income markets, as well as on preferred shares, adding volatility to credit spreads. While “Floating Rate” Preferred Shares are able to offer dividends that rise dynamically along with interest rates hikes, “Rate-Reset” preferred shares will also benefit from a higher rate, albeit, with a lag, as their dividend resets at five-year increments.

Currently, the market anticipates more interest rate hikes over the next 6-9 months from the U.S. Federal Reserve and the Bank of Canada. However, it is expected that a rate hike “pause” will occur at some point, when inflation is seen as “tamed”. This would allow preferred share credit spreads to stabilize, offering a better “floor” for the marketplace. With Fixed-Floating Preferred Shares set to reset at higher rates in the future, in the case of Horizons ETFs’ Preferred Share ETFs, Fiera Capital anticipates that HPR and HYBR could potentially benefit from the higher interest rate environment

2. Horizons ETFs Will Cover Trading Costs of In-Kind ETF Switches

While preferred share ETFs are typically more liquid than individual preferred share securities, there can still be a relatively large bid/ask spread range, which can result in additional trading costs.

As highlighted above, Horizons ETFs will help cover the trading costs associated with in-kind switches of preferred share ETFs into HPR, HYBR or HLPR. As this offer is only available for a limited time, investors may want to currently consider pursuing a tax-loss strategy and in-kind transfer strategy.

3. Our In-Kind Process Can Potentially Reduce Spread Cost on Individual Preferred Share Securities

Individual Preferred Share securities are not very liquid. Advisors and investors trying to execute even a modest sell order can see fairly wide spreads.

One way that Horizons ETFs can assist with tax-loss selling is through our ability to take in-kind baskets of individual preferred shares, where investors can do an end-of-day execution at the Net-Asset-Value price of the ETF and maintain sector exposure. This can help to reduce some of the spread costs for in-kind switching.

Fiera Capital, the sub-advisor to Horizons ETFs’ Preferred Share ETFs, will consider the eligibility of individual preferred share securities for in-kind transfers on a case-by-case basis and work to find an appropriate in-kind transfer for you.

Fiera Capital, the sub-advisor to Horizons ETFs’ Preferred Share ETFs, will consider the eligibility of individual preferred share securities for in-kind transfers on a case-by-case basis and work to find an appropriate in-kind transfer for you.

4. Winter (and the end of the Year) is Coming

If you’d like to harvest tax losses, tax-loss selling must be exercised in the same year that the loss occurred, and so, the selling transaction must be settled before the last business day of the year, falling on December 30, 2022.

With Q4 2022 in full swing, there is a limited amount of time remaining to exercise a tax-loss sale and if you are interested in benefiting from Horizons ETFs’ in-kind transfer process, we recommend that you do so ahead of the end of year deadline, to ensure there is enough time to support your in-kind transfer.

5. Reasons to Continue Investing in Preferred Share

Diversification. Preferred shares have, historically, had a low correlation to equities and bonds, providing important diversification to an investor’s portfolio

Increased security. Ahead of common shares in the hierarchy of corporate ownership, preferred shares can have a greater claim on assets in the event of an issuer’s bankruptcy, just behind unsecured debt holders

Fixed or predefined dividend payments. Due to the terms defined in preferred share agreements, companies are less likely to miss a dividend payment compared to that of a common shareholder

Greater tax efficiency. Preferred shares pay out dividend income, which is taxed more favourably than the interest income received from fixed income securities

Lower volatility. Preferred shares tend to trade at their par value during normal market conditions; as a result, they are less volatile than common shares but provide a more attractive risk/return profile compared to other fixed-income securities

Horizons ETFs

Horizons ETFs Management (Canada) Inc.

Horizons ETFs Management (Canada) Inc. is an innovative financial services company and offers one of the largest suites of exchange traded funds in Canada. The Horizons ETFs product family includes a broadly diversified range of solutions for investors of all experience levels to meet their investment objectives in a variety of market conditions.

Commissions, management fees and expenses all may be associated with an investment in the Horizons NASDAQ-100® Index ETF (the “ETF”) managed by Horizons ETFs Management (Canada) Inc. The ETF is not guaranteed, its value(s) change(s) frequently and past performance may not be repeated. Certain Horizons Exchange Traded Products may have exposure to leveraged investment techniques that magnify gains and losses and which may result in greater volatility in value and could be subject to aggressive investment risk and price volatility risk. Such risks are described in the prospectus. The prospectus contains important detailed information about the Horizons Exchange Traded Products. Please read the relevant prospectus before investing.

Horizons Total Return Index ETFs (“Horizons TRI ETFs”) are generally index-tracking ETFs that use an innovative investment structure known as a Total Return Swap to deliver index returns in a low-cost and tax-efficient manner. Unlike a physical replication ETF that typically purchases the securities found in the relevant index in the same proportions as the index, most Horizons TRI ETFs use a synthetic structure that never buys the securities of an index directly. Instead, the ETF receives the total return of the index through entering into a Total Return Swap agreement with one or more counterparties, typically large financial institutions, which will provide the ETF with the total return of the index in exchange for the interest earned on the cash held by the ETF. Any distributions which are paid by the index constituents are reflected automatically in the net asset value (NAV) of the ETF. As a result, the Horizons TRI ETF receives the total return of the index (before fees), which is reflected in the ETF’s share price, and investors are not expected to receive any taxable distributions. Certain Horizons TRI ETFs (Horizons NASDAQ-100 ® Index ETF and Horizons US Large Cap Index ETF) use physical replication instead of a total return swap.

Horizons TRI ETFs include ETFs that use physical replication instead of a total return swap to gain exposure to their benchmark index. These ETFs are a class of shares in a corporate class structure that allows the ETF to deliver its returns in a tax-efficient manner. With this structure, the ETF will receive the total return of the Index (less any withholding tax payable on constituent distributions if applicable), which is reflected in the NAV of the ETF. However, investors are not expected to receive any taxable distributions from these ETFs.

The indicated rates of return are the historical annual compounded total returns, including changes in share value and reinvestment of all distributions and do not take into account sales, redemption, distribution or optional charges or income taxes payable by any securityholder that would have reduced returns. The rates of return above are not indicative of future returns. ETFs are not guaranteed, their values change frequently, and past performance may not be repeated. Only the returns for periods of one year or greater are annualized returns.

The Inception Date shown for Horizons NASDAQ-100® Index ETF (“HXQ” and “HXQ/U”) is the inception date of the predecessor ETF of the same name which was structured as a trust. On November 27, 2019, after receiving unitholder approval, the predecessor ETF merged into a class of shares of a corporate fund structure. In accordance with exemptive relief, the data of the ETF presented here includes the historical data of the predecessor ETF in order to provide full disclosure of the ETF’s data.

Effective January 4, 2020, HXQ changed its portfolio from a total-return swap to physical replication of the underlying index. This reduced the expenses applicable to the ETF by the 0.30% swap fee and is expected to increase the trading costs. Overall, the expenses are expected to decline to result in less tracking errors going forward.

Nasdaq®, Nasdaq-100®, and Nasdaq-100 Index® are trademarks of The NASDAQ OMX Group, Inc. (which with its affiliates is referred to as the “Corporations”) and are licensed for use by Horizons ETFs Management (Canada) Inc. The Fund(s)have not been passed on by the Corporations as to their legality or suitability. The Fund(s) are not issued, endorsed, sold, or promoted by the Corporations. THE CORPORATIONS MAKE NO WARRANTIES AND BEAR NO LIABILITY WITH RESPECT TO THE FUND(S) or PRODUCT(S).

Certain statements may constitute a forward-looking statement, including those identified by the expression “expect” and similar expressions (including grammatical variations thereof). The forward-looking statements are not historical facts but reflect the author’s current expectations regarding future results or events. These forward-looking statements are subject to a number of risks and uncertainties that could cause actual results or events to differ materially from current expectations. These and other factors should be considered carefully and readers should not place undue reliance on such forward-looking statements. These forward-looking statements are made as of the date hereof and the authors do not undertake to update any forward-looking statement that is contained herein, whether as a result of new information, future events or otherwise, unless required by applicable law.

This communication is intended for informational purposes only and does not constitute an offer to sell or the solicitation of an offer to purchase exchange traded products (the “Horizons Exchange Traded Products”) managed by Horizons ETFs Management (Canada) Inc. and is not, and should not be construed as, investment, tax, legal or accounting advice, and should not be relied upon in that regard. Individuals should seek the advice of professionals, as appropriate, regarding any particular investment. Investors should consult their professional advisors prior to implementing any changes to their investment strategies. These investments may not be suitable to the circumstances of an investor.

The information contained herein reflects general tax rules only and does not constitute, and should not be construed as tax advice. Investors’ situations may differ from those illustrated. Investors should consult with their tax advisors before making any investment decisions.

All comments, opinions and views expressed are generally based on information available as of the date of publication and should not be considered as advice to purchase or to sell mentioned securities. Before making any investment decision, please consult your investment advisor or advisors.

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