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 is the amount of value an investor earns from a security over a specific period, typically one year, when all distributions are reinvested. Total return is expressed as a percentage of the amount invested. For example, a total return of 20% means the security increased by 20% of its original value due to a price increase, distribution of dividends (if a stock), coupons (if a bond) or capital gains (if a fund). Total return is a strong measure of an investment’s overall performance.'

Using this definition on our asset we see for example:
  • Compared with the benchmark SPY (64.1%) in the period of the last 5 years, the total return of 43.7% of Second Grader's Starter is lower, thus worse.
  • During the last 3 years, the total return, or increase in value is 36.8%, which is lower, thus worse than the value of 48.1% from the benchmark.

CAGR:

'Compound annual growth rate (CAGR) is a business and investing specific term for the geometric progression ratio that provides a constant rate of return over the time period. CAGR is not an accounting term, but it is often used to describe some element of the business, for example revenue, units delivered, registered users, etc. CAGR dampens the effect of volatility of periodic returns that can render arithmetic means irrelevant. It is particularly useful to compare growth rates from various data sets of common domain such as revenue growth of companies in the same industry.'

Using this definition on our asset we see for example:
  • The compounded annual growth rate (CAGR) over 5 years of Second Grader's Starter is 7.5%, which is lower, thus worse compared to the benchmark SPY (10.4%) in the same period.
  • Looking at annual performance (CAGR) in of 11% in the period of the last 3 years, we see it is relatively lower, thus worse in comparison to SPY (14%).

Volatility:

'Volatility is a statistical measure of the dispersion of returns for a given security or market index. Volatility can either be measured by using the standard deviation or variance between returns from that same security or market index. Commonly, the higher the volatility, the riskier the security. In the securities markets, volatility is often associated with big swings in either direction. For example, when the stock market rises and falls more than one percent over a sustained period of time, it is called a 'volatile' market.'

Applying this definition to our asset in some examples:
  • The volatility over 5 years of Second Grader's Starter is 12%, which is lower, thus better compared to the benchmark SPY (13.6%) in the same period.
  • Compared with SPY (12.8%) in the period of the last 3 years, the volatility of 10.7% is lower, thus better.

DownVol:

'Downside risk is the financial risk associated with losses. That is, it is the risk of the actual return being below the expected return, or the uncertainty about the magnitude of that difference. Risk measures typically quantify the downside risk, whereas the standard deviation (an example of a deviation risk measure) measures both the upside and downside risk. Specifically, downside risk in our definition is the semi-deviation, that is the standard deviation of all negative returns.'

Using this definition on our asset we see for example:
  • Compared with the benchmark SPY (14.9%) in the period of the last 5 years, the downside deviation of 13.3% of Second Grader's Starter is lower, thus better.
  • Looking at downside risk in of 12.2% in the period of the last 3 years, we see it is relatively lower, thus better in comparison to SPY (14.5%).

Sharpe:

'The Sharpe ratio (also known as the Sharpe index, the Sharpe measure, and the reward-to-variability ratio) is a way to examine the performance of an investment by adjusting for its risk. The ratio measures the excess return (or risk premium) per unit of deviation in an investment asset or a trading strategy, typically referred to as risk, named after William F. Sharpe.'

Applying this definition to our asset in some examples:
  • Compared with the benchmark SPY (0.58) in the period of the last 5 years, the risk / return profile (Sharpe) of 0.42 of Second Grader's Starter is smaller, thus worse.
  • Compared with SPY (0.9) in the period of the last 3 years, the ratio of return and volatility (Sharpe) of 0.8 is lower, thus worse.

Sortino:

'The Sortino ratio improves upon the Sharpe ratio by isolating downside volatility from total volatility by dividing excess return by the downside deviation. The Sortino ratio is a variation of the Sharpe ratio that differentiates harmful volatility from total overall volatility by using the asset's standard deviation of negative asset returns, called downside deviation. The Sortino ratio takes the asset's return and subtracts the risk-free rate, and then divides that amount by the asset's downside deviation. The ratio was named after Frank A. Sortino.'

Using this definition on our asset we see for example:
  • Looking at the excess return divided by the downside deviation of 0.38 in the last 5 years of Second Grader's Starter , we see it is relatively smaller, thus worse in comparison to the benchmark SPY (0.53)
  • During the last 3 years, the downside risk / excess return profile is 0.7, which is lower, thus worse than the value of 0.79 from the benchmark.

Ulcer:

'The ulcer index is a stock market risk measure or technical analysis indicator devised by Peter Martin in 1987, and published by him and Byron McCann in their 1989 book The Investors Guide to Fidelity Funds. It's designed as a measure of volatility, but only volatility in the downward direction, i.e. the amount of drawdown or retracement occurring over a period. Other volatility measures like standard deviation treat up and down movement equally, but a trader doesn't mind upward movement, it's the downside that causes stress and stomach ulcers that the index's name suggests.'

Using this definition on our asset we see for example:
  • The Downside risk index over 5 years of Second Grader's Starter is 4.37 , which is higher, thus worse compared to the benchmark SPY (4.02 ) in the same period.
  • During the last 3 years, the Ulcer Ratio is 3.9 , which is lower, thus better than the value of 4.09 from the benchmark.

MaxDD:

'Maximum drawdown measures the loss in any losing period during a fund’s investment record. It is defined as the percent retrenchment from a fund’s peak value to the fund’s valley value. The drawdown is in effect from the time the fund’s retrenchment begins until a new fund high is reached. The maximum drawdown encompasses both the period from the fund’s peak to the fund’s valley (length), and the time from the fund’s valley to a new fund high (recovery). It measures the largest percentage drawdown that has occurred in any fund’s data record.'

Which means for our asset as example:
  • Compared with the benchmark SPY (-19.3 days) in the period of the last 5 years, the maximum drop from peak to valley of -16.7 days of Second Grader's Starter is higher, thus better.
  • During the last 3 years, the maximum reduction from previous high is -16.7 days, which is higher, thus better than the value of -19.3 days from the benchmark.

MaxDuration:

'The Maximum Drawdown Duration is an extension of the Maximum Drawdown. However, this metric does not explain the drawdown in dollars or percentages, rather in days, weeks, or months. It is the length of time the account was in the Max Drawdown. A Max Drawdown measures a retrenchment from when an equity curve reaches a new high. It’s the maximum an account lost during that retrenchment. This method is applied because a valley can’t be measured until a new high occurs. Once the new high is reached, the percentage change from the old high to the bottom of the largest trough is recorded.'

Using this definition on our asset we see for example:
  • Compared with the benchmark SPY (187 days) in the period of the last 5 years, the maximum days under water of 309 days of Second Grader's Starter is higher, thus worse.
  • Compared with SPY (139 days) in the period of the last 3 years, the maximum days below previous high of 309 days is higher, 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.'

Which means for our asset as example:
  • The average time in days below previous high water mark over 5 years of Second Grader's Starter is 91 days, which is larger, thus worse compared to the benchmark SPY (41 days) in the same period.
  • Compared with SPY (35 days) in the period of the last 3 years, the average days below previous high of 80 days is greater, thus worse.

Performance of Second Grader's Starter (YTD)

Historical returns have been extended using synthetic data.

Allocations of Second Grader's Starter
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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.