Description of Second Grader's Starter

The Second Grader's Starter Portfolio is a Lazy Portfolio proposed by Paul Farrell. It was meant as a portfolio solution to a very small investor, with a long investment horizon. Farrell gives an example of 8-year old Kevin who got a $10,000 gift form his gramdmother. With a time horizon of 30+ years, the portfolio uses no load, low-cost index funds. It splits the money into 60% Total Stock Market Index, 30% Total International Stock and 10% Total Bond Market Index. The portfolio can be constructed using ETFs such as Vanguard Total Stock Market Index - VTI, iShares MSCI EAFE International Index - EFA and  iShares Lehman Aggregate Bond Index  - AGG.

Using mutual funds: VBMFX=10%, VGTSX=30%, VTSMX=60%

Using ETFs: AGG=10%, EFA=30%, SPY=60%

The backtest uses allocation to ETFs.

Statistics of Second Grader's Starter (YTD)

What do these metrics mean? [Read More] [Hide]

TotalReturn:

'Total return, when measuring performance, is the actual rate of return of an investment or a pool of investments over a given evaluation period. Total return includes interest, capital gains, dividends and distributions realized over a given period of time. Total return accounts for two categories of return: income including interest paid by fixed-income investments, distributions or dividends and capital appreciation, representing the change in the market price of an asset.'

Which means for our asset as example:
  • Compared with the benchmark SPY (68.2%) in the period of the last 5 years, the total return, or performance of 46% of Second Grader's Starter is smaller, thus worse.
  • During the last 3 years, the total return, or performance is 36.3%, which is smaller, thus worse than the value of 47.7% from the benchmark.

CAGR:

'The compound annual growth rate isn't a true return rate, but rather a representational figure. It is essentially a number that describes the rate at which an investment would have grown if it had grown the same rate every year and the profits were reinvested at the end of each year. In reality, this sort of performance is unlikely. However, CAGR can be used to smooth returns so that they may be more easily understood when compared to alternative investments.'

Which means for our asset as example:
  • The annual performance (CAGR) over 5 years of Second Grader's Starter is 7.9%, which is smaller, thus worse compared to the benchmark SPY (11%) in the same period.
  • During the last 3 years, the compounded annual growth rate (CAGR) is 10.9%, which is lower, thus worse than the value of 13.9% from the benchmark.

Volatility:

'Volatility is a rate at which the price of a security increases or decreases for a given set of returns. Volatility is measured by calculating the standard deviation of the annualized returns over a given period of time. It shows the range to which the price of a security may increase or decrease. Volatility measures the risk of a security. It is used in option pricing formula to gauge the fluctuations in the returns of the underlying assets. Volatility indicates the pricing behavior of the security and helps estimate the fluctuations that may happen in a short period of time.'

Using this definition on our asset we see for example:
  • The volatility over 5 years of Second Grader's Starter is 11.7%, which is lower, thus better compared to the benchmark SPY (13.2%) in the same period.
  • Looking at volatility in of 10.9% in the period of the last 3 years, we see it is relatively lower, thus better in comparison to SPY (12.4%).

DownVol:

'The downside volatility is similar to the volatility, or standard deviation, but only takes losing/negative periods into account.'

Which means for our asset as example:
  • Compared with the benchmark SPY (14.6%) in the period of the last 5 years, the downside volatility of 12.9% of Second Grader's Starter is smaller, thus better.
  • Compared with SPY (14%) in the period of the last 3 years, the downside deviation of 12.4% is smaller, thus better.

Sharpe:

'The Sharpe ratio was developed by Nobel laureate William F. Sharpe, and is used to help investors understand the return of an investment compared to its risk. The ratio is the average return earned in excess of the risk-free rate per unit of volatility or total risk. Subtracting the risk-free rate from the mean return allows an investor to better isolate the profits associated with risk-taking activities. One intuition of this calculation is that a portfolio engaging in 'zero risk' investments, such as the purchase of U.S. Treasury bills (for which the expected return is the risk-free rate), has a Sharpe ratio of exactly zero. Generally, the greater the value of the Sharpe ratio, the more attractive the risk-adjusted return.'

Applying this definition to our asset in some examples:
  • Compared with the benchmark SPY (0.64) in the period of the last 5 years, the ratio of return and volatility (Sharpe) of 0.46 of Second Grader's Starter is lower, thus worse.
  • Looking at ratio of return and volatility (Sharpe) in of 0.77 in the period of the last 3 years, we see it is relatively lower, thus worse in comparison to SPY (0.92).

Sortino:

'The Sortino ratio measures the risk-adjusted return of an investment asset, portfolio, or strategy. It is a modification of the Sharpe ratio but penalizes only those returns falling below a user-specified target or required rate of return, while the Sharpe ratio penalizes both upside and downside volatility equally. Though both ratios measure an investment's risk-adjusted return, they do so in significantly different ways that will frequently lead to differing conclusions as to the true nature of the investment's return-generating efficiency. The Sortino ratio is used as a way to compare the risk-adjusted performance of programs with differing risk and return profiles. In general, risk-adjusted returns seek to normalize the risk across programs and then see which has the higher return unit per risk.'

Applying this definition to our asset in some examples:
  • The excess return divided by the downside deviation over 5 years of Second Grader's Starter is 0.42, which is lower, thus worse compared to the benchmark SPY (0.58) in the same period.
  • Looking at downside risk / excess return profile in of 0.68 in the period of the last 3 years, we see it is relatively smaller, thus worse in comparison to SPY (0.81).

Ulcer:

'The Ulcer Index is a technical indicator that measures downside risk, in terms of both the depth and duration of price declines. The index increases in value as the price moves farther away from a recent high and falls as the price rises to new highs. The indicator is usually calculated over a 14-day period, with the Ulcer Index showing the percentage drawdown a trader can expect from the high over that period. The greater the value of the Ulcer Index, the longer it takes for a stock to get back to the former high.'

Which means for our asset as example:
  • Compared with the benchmark SPY (3.95 ) in the period of the last 5 years, the Ulcer Ratio of 4.32 of Second Grader's Starter is larger, thus better.
  • Looking at Ulcer Ratio in of 3.85 in the period of the last 3 years, we see it is relatively lower, thus worse in comparison to SPY (4 ).

MaxDD:

'A maximum drawdown is the maximum loss from a peak to a trough of a portfolio, before a new peak is attained. Maximum Drawdown is an indicator of downside risk over a specified time period. It can be used both as a stand-alone measure or as an input into other metrics such as 'Return over Maximum Drawdown' and the Calmar Ratio. Maximum Drawdown is expressed in percentage terms.'

Which means for our asset as example:
  • Looking at the maximum drop from peak to valley of -16.7 days in the last 5 years of Second Grader's Starter , we see it is relatively larger, thus better in comparison to the benchmark SPY (-19.3 days)
  • Looking at maximum DrawDown in of -16.7 days in the period of the last 3 years, we see it is relatively larger, thus better in comparison to SPY (-19.3 days).

MaxDuration:

'The Drawdown Duration is the length of any peak to peak period, or the time between new equity highs. The Max Drawdown Duration is the worst (the maximum/longest) amount of time an investment has seen between peaks (equity highs) in days.'

Which means for our asset as example:
  • Looking at the maximum time in days below previous high water mark of 306 days in the last 5 years of Second Grader's Starter , we see it is relatively larger, thus worse in comparison to the benchmark SPY (187 days)
  • Compared with SPY (131 days) in the period of the last 3 years, the maximum days below previous high of 288 days is larger, thus worse.

AveDuration:

'The Drawdown Duration is the length of any peak to peak period, or the time between new equity highs. The Avg Drawdown Duration is the average amount of time an investment has seen between peaks (equity highs), or in other terms the average of time under water of all drawdowns. So in contrast to the Maximum duration it does not measure only one drawdown event but calculates the average of all.'

Using this definition on our asset we see for example:
  • The average days below previous high over 5 years of Second Grader's Starter is 86 days, which is greater, thus worse compared to the benchmark SPY (39 days) in the same period.
  • Compared with SPY (33 days) in the period of the last 3 years, the average time in days below previous high water mark of 72 days is larger, thus worse.

Performance of Second Grader's Starter (YTD)

Historical returns have been extended using synthetic data.

Allocations of Second Grader's Starter
()

Allocations

Returns of Second Grader's Starter (%)

  • "Year" returns in the table above are not equal to the sum of monthly returns due to compounding.
  • Performance results of Second Grader's Starter are hypothetical, do not account for slippage, fees or taxes, and are based on backtesting, which has many inherent limitations, some of which are described in our Terms of Use.