Dr. William Bernstein is a physician and neurologist as well as a financial adviser to high net worth individuals. This one's so simple: Allocate 25% in each of four index funds diversified across basic categories.

The no-brainer portfolio comprises the following fund allocation:

25% in Vanguard 500 Index VFINX (NYSEARCA:IVW)

25% in Vanguard Small Cap NAESX or VTMSX (NYSEARCA:VB)

25% in Vanguard Total International VGTSX or VTMGX (EFA, VEA)

25% in Vanguard Total Bond VBMFX or VBISX (NASDAQ:BND)

'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.'

Which means for our asset as example:- Looking at the total return, or increase in value of 50.1% in the last 5 years of Dr. Bernstein's No Brainer Portfolio, we see it is relatively smaller, thus worse in comparison to the benchmark SPY (109.2%)
- Compared with SPY (33.3%) in the period of the last 3 years, the total return of 10% is smaller, thus worse.

'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.'

Using this definition on our asset we see for example:- Compared with the benchmark SPY (15.9%) in the period of the last 5 years, the annual return (CAGR) of 8.5% of Dr. Bernstein's No Brainer Portfolio is smaller, thus worse.
- During the last 3 years, the annual return (CAGR) is 3.2%, which is lower, thus worse than the value of 10.1% from the benchmark.

'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.'

Which means for our asset as example:- The historical 30 days volatility over 5 years of Dr. Bernstein's No Brainer Portfolio is 15.7%, which is lower, thus better compared to the benchmark SPY (20.9%) in the same period.
- Compared with SPY (17.6%) in the period of the last 3 years, the historical 30 days volatility of 13.8% is lower, thus better.

'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.'

Applying this definition to our asset in some examples:- Looking at the downside deviation of 11.5% in the last 5 years of Dr. Bernstein's No Brainer Portfolio, we see it is relatively lower, thus better in comparison to the benchmark SPY (14.9%)
- Compared with SPY (12.3%) in the period of the last 3 years, the downside risk of 9.6% is lower, thus better.

'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.'

Which means for our asset as example:- Looking at the ratio of return and volatility (Sharpe) of 0.38 in the last 5 years of Dr. Bernstein's No Brainer Portfolio, we see it is relatively smaller, thus worse in comparison to the benchmark SPY (0.64)
- Compared with SPY (0.43) in the period of the last 3 years, the risk / return profile (Sharpe) of 0.05 is smaller, thus worse.

'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:- Compared with the benchmark SPY (0.9) in the period of the last 5 years, the excess return divided by the downside deviation of 0.52 of Dr. Bernstein's No Brainer Portfolio is lower, thus worse.
- During the last 3 years, the excess return divided by the downside deviation is 0.08, which is lower, thus worse than the value of 0.62 from the benchmark.

'Ulcer Index is a method for measuring investment risk that addresses the real concerns of investors, unlike the widely used standard deviation of return. UI is a measure of the depth and duration of drawdowns in prices from earlier highs. Using Ulcer Index instead of standard deviation can lead to very different conclusions about investment risk and risk-adjusted return, especially when evaluating strategies that seek to avoid major declines in portfolio value (market timing, dynamic asset allocation, hedge funds, etc.). The Ulcer Index was originally developed in 1987. Since then, it has been widely recognized and adopted by the investment community. According to Nelson Freeburg, editor of Formula Research, Ulcer Index is “perhaps the most fully realized statistical portrait of risk there is.'

Applying this definition to our asset in some examples:- Looking at the Ulcer Ratio of 9.57 in the last 5 years of Dr. Bernstein's No Brainer Portfolio, we see it is relatively higher, thus worse in comparison to the benchmark SPY (9.32 )
- During the last 3 years, the Downside risk index is 11 , which is greater, thus worse than the value of 10 from the benchmark.

'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:- The maximum DrawDown over 5 years of Dr. Bernstein's No Brainer Portfolio is -28.2 days, which is greater, thus better compared to the benchmark SPY (-33.7 days) in the same period.
- During the last 3 years, the maximum reduction from previous high is -24.4 days, which is greater, thus better than the value of -24.5 days from the benchmark.

'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.'

Applying this definition to our asset in some examples:- Looking at the maximum days below previous high of 583 days in the last 5 years of Dr. Bernstein's No Brainer Portfolio, we see it is relatively higher, thus worse in comparison to the benchmark SPY (488 days)
- Compared with SPY (488 days) in the period of the last 3 years, the maximum days below previous high of 583 days is larger, thus worse.

'The Average 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. 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.'

Applying this definition to our asset in some examples:- Compared with the benchmark SPY (123 days) in the period of the last 5 years, the average time in days below previous high water mark of 162 days of Dr. Bernstein's No Brainer Portfolio is higher, thus worse.
- During the last 3 years, the average days below previous high is 235 days, which is greater, thus worse than the value of 176 days from the benchmark.

Historical returns have been extended using synthetic data.
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- Note that yearly returns do not equal the sum of monthly returns due to compounding.
- Performance results of Dr. Bernstein's No Brainer Portfolio are hypothetical and do not account for slippage, fees or taxes.
- Results may be based on backtesting, which has many inherent limitations, some of which are described in our Terms of Use.