Learn about Types of Bonds

There are 4 main categories of bonds, with a couple “sub-categories.” The key to understanding bonds (and investments in general) is that the higher the return, the greater the risk.

This page will help you understand the general kinds of bonds available to investors.

Sovereign Bonds – these are bonds backed by the national governments of developed countries such as the United States (US Treasuries) or Germany (Bunds). They are generally considered to be risk free and are usually purchased to provide principal protection. However, if you are looking for retirement income, they don’t work so well. Check out this case study –> CLICK HERE.

Municipal Bonds – these are bonds issued by municipalities in the United States and are often portrayed as nearly risk free.

But are they?

Some analysts, including Meredith Whitney (predicted that major banks would fail in 2007-2009 crisis) has estimated that municipality impairment could run as high as 50% in the next recession. She predicted a measurable number of municipalities would face bankruptcy and maybe even default on their bond obligations.

In the 2008 crash, many municipal bonds saw drops of -30% or more due to forced selling in mutual funds, banks, and hedge funds. So much for nearly risk free.

Municipals bonds have already seen high profile bankruptcies in Michigan, Illinois, California, Puerto Rico and elsewhere where bond holders experienced either reduced payments or big losses on their investments. How many more will go down when the economy worsens?

Municipalities do not offer protection of your principal, which is okay if you don’t mind that sort of thing in return for a 3% – 5% income.

Corporate Bonds — these are bonds issued by mostly credit worthy corporations to help fund acquisitions or operations. Investors buy the bonds, and collect interest payments. The problems come when companies aren’t managed well and take on too much debt, or when recessions hit. Their revenue often falls and that can make it harder for them to make bond payments. If you were a bond holder in Lehman Brothers, Eastman Kodak, Washington Mutual, Blockbuster, Circuit City or others, you lost your entire investment.

Investment grade corporate bonds pay around 4% and do not guarantee your investment.

High Yield Corporate Bonds – These are also known as “junk bonds.” They can pay a lot more than most other bond types with rates in the 6% – 7% area which sounds great until you realize that more of these companies will have problems during a recession than investment grade bonds like the ones Washington Mutual offered.

Emerging Market Bonds – These are bonds backed by governments in the developing or 3rd world. They typically pay in the 5% range. The problem? Sometimes these governments find a way to mismanage their finances. Think Argentina or Venezuela. There is potential for principal loss that may be worse than US Municipal Bonds.

Questions? Ask a question with the contact button or the form at the top right.


Need some help figuring out whether bonds will generate enough income for you?  CLICK HERE to have a planner do a comparison to see what sources of retirement income fit you best.

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Investment Management

For ACI, investment management begins with understanding and actively managing risk for our clients and partners.  We do this through smarter investments built on low cost, highly liquid and diversified investments rather than expensive financial products.


Understanding the needs of investors seeking stable results for portfolios greater than $500,000 is a core strength of ACI.  One of the most important things we do is help your investments to create stable income while generating sufficient growth to meet your future demands and the needs of those you care for. 

ACI uses customized planning and software to create retirement income plans to meet the specific needs of each of clients while providing confidence, flexibility, and cost efficiency.


Success in any endeavor comes from hard work, vision, and planning. We can help you create a more confident future by working with you, your CPA, your tax and estate counsel to make sure that when the tomorrow becomes today, you are where you want to be.

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Market Income

This portfolio invests in a basket of highly liquid Index or Sector securities and sells off atypical returns in exchange for a premium on a rolling basis. That’s a fancy way of saying we take the bird in hand and let someone else have the two in the bush.  We buy sectors that are undervalued relative to the rest of the market or vs. their historical value ranges which reduces downside risk vs. the broad market.  Typically out-performs in bear markets, neutral markets and mild bull markets, and under-performs strong bull markets.

Core Equity

Invests in diversified components of the financial markets and broad economy by targeting sectors which demonstrate the greatest potential for a consistent range of multi-year returns, while offering a risk adjusted investment profile equal to or lower than the broad markets.  Our research tells us which sectors demonstrate the greatest potential for consistent multi-year returns while offering greater risk efficiency than the broad markets.  We invest on an “Outcome Oriented” basis – meaning we have a good idea what the returns over time will be at a given purchase price.

Durable Opportunities

This portfolio invests in companies possessing a Durable Competitive Advantage.  Such companies are likely to be around for decades, easing the concern of principal return.  DCA companies often suffer less in bear markets and usually lead recoveries.  These companies allow ACI to build portfolios with minimum expected returns that can be in the mid-single digit range over any 3-5 year period which can provide long term stability partnered with long term growth in equity.

Full Cycle

This portfolio is derived from the ground breaking work in ‘risk parity’ by Ray Dalio, arguably one of the top 10 money managers in history and founder of Bridgewater Associates.  The Full Cycle portfolio is built on the allocation models Ray designed to provide the highest potential risk adjusted returns possible through all phases of the economic cycle.  Bridgewater’s “All Weather” fund was designed for pension funds and other large institutional investors that needed to earn stable returns with stable risk, and has been closed to new investors for years.  At the time the fund closed, the All Weather Portfolio had a minimum required investment of $100 million.

Equity Builder

This is a risk management overlay which helps build and protect accounts by collecting small premiums against held positions on an opportunistic basis during correcting markets through synthetic “short” positions.  EQB seeks to collect an extra 2% – 5% per year against the cost of underlying investments.  While primarily targeted at increasing account equity, EQB gives an extra layer of protection to capital during periods of higher volatility.

Fixed Income

Diversified, broad exposure to fixed income ETFs and best of breed no load funds including core fixed income components such as Government, Corporate or MBS, municipals, and unconstrained “Go Anywhere” funds.

Investment Team


Dak Hartsock; Investment manager with over 15 years of experience with securities & securities options. Dak has worked full time in the financial markets since 2007. He has more than a decade of operating experience as a business owner & developer. He is a graduate of the University of Virginia.

Robert Hartsock; MBA. Bob has over 30 years of senior management experience in diverse markets, products and businesses. He brings an exceptional record that includes management roles in two Fortune 500 companies and leadership of 7,500+ employees. Bob’s career features a specialization in identifying and fixing management and operational problems for multiple companies including leading over a dozen acquisitions, private placements and a public offering. He is uniquely positioned to provide ACI with highly relevant C-Level management perspective. Bob provides operational & macro perspective on investments ACI undertakes for client portfolios. Bob holds degrees from University of Illinois and University of Washington.

Process Portfolios is a dba of ACI Wealth Advisors, LLC.

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