Description

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)

Statistics (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 (75.6%) in the period of the last 5 years, the total return of 32.7% of Dr. Bernstein's No Brainer Portfolio is lower, thus worse.
  • Looking at total return, or increase in value in of 16.4% in the period of the last 3 years, we see it is relatively lower, thus worse in comparison to SPY (40%).

CAGR:

'The compound annual growth rate (CAGR) is a useful measure of growth over multiple time periods. It can be thought of as the growth rate that gets you from the initial investment value to the ending investment value if you assume that the investment has been compounding over the time period.'

Using this definition on our asset we see for example:
  • The annual performance (CAGR) over 5 years of Dr. Bernstein's No Brainer Portfolio is 5.8%, which is lower, thus worse compared to the benchmark SPY (11.9%) in the same period.
  • Looking at compounded annual growth rate (CAGR) in of 5.2% in the period of the last 3 years, we see it is relatively lower, thus worse in comparison to SPY (11.9%).

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.'

Applying this definition to our asset in some examples:
  • The volatility over 5 years of Dr. Bernstein's No Brainer Portfolio is 14.6%, which is smaller, thus better compared to the benchmark SPY (20.3%) in the same period.
  • Looking at 30 days standard deviation in of 17.2% in the period of the last 3 years, we see it is relatively lower, thus better in comparison to SPY (23.6%).

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.'

Which means for our asset as example:
  • The downside volatility over 5 years of Dr. Bernstein's No Brainer Portfolio is 11%, which is lower, thus better compared to the benchmark SPY (14.9%) in the same period.
  • During the last 3 years, the downside deviation is 13.1%, which is lower, thus better than the value of 17.3% from the benchmark.

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.'

Which means for our asset as example:
  • Compared with the benchmark SPY (0.46) in the period of the last 5 years, the ratio of return and volatility (Sharpe) of 0.23 of Dr. Bernstein's No Brainer Portfolio is lower, thus worse.
  • Looking at ratio of return and volatility (Sharpe) in of 0.16 in the period of the last 3 years, we see it is relatively lower, thus worse in comparison to SPY (0.4).

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.'

Using this definition on our asset we see for example:
  • Looking at the excess return divided by the downside deviation of 0.3 in the last 5 years of Dr. Bernstein's No Brainer Portfolio, we see it is relatively lower, thus worse in comparison to the benchmark SPY (0.63)
  • During the last 3 years, the downside risk / excess return profile is 0.21, which is lower, thus worse than the value of 0.54 from the benchmark.

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.'

Applying this definition to our asset in some examples:
  • Looking at the Ulcer Index of 6.08 in the last 5 years of Dr. Bernstein's No Brainer Portfolio, we see it is relatively smaller, thus better in comparison to the benchmark SPY (6.62 )
  • Looking at Downside risk index in of 7.07 in the period of the last 3 years, we see it is relatively lower, thus better in comparison to SPY (7.55 ).

MaxDD:

'Maximum drawdown is defined as the peak-to-trough decline of an investment during a specific period. It is usually quoted as a percentage of the peak value. The maximum drawdown can be calculated based on absolute returns, in order to identify strategies that suffer less during market downturns, such as low-volatility strategies. However, the maximum drawdown can also be calculated based on returns relative to a benchmark index, for identifying strategies that show steady outperformance over time.'

Applying this definition to our asset in some examples:
  • Compared with the benchmark SPY (-33.7 days) in the period of the last 5 years, the maximum reduction from previous high of -28.2 days of Dr. Bernstein's No Brainer Portfolio is higher, thus better.
  • Looking at maximum DrawDown in of -28.2 days in the period of the last 3 years, we see it is relatively larger, thus better in comparison to SPY (-33.7 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). Many assume Max DD Duration is the length of time between new highs during which the Max DD (magnitude) occurred. But that isn’t always the case. The Max DD duration is the longest time between peaks, period. So it could be the time when the program also had its biggest peak to valley loss (and usually is, because the program needs a long time to recover from the largest loss), but it doesn’t have to be'

Using this definition on our asset we see for example:
  • Compared with the benchmark SPY (139 days) in the period of the last 5 years, the maximum days under water of 160 days of Dr. Bernstein's No Brainer Portfolio is larger, thus worse.
  • Compared with SPY (120 days) in the period of the last 3 years, the maximum days under water of 158 days is higher, thus worse.

AveDuration:

'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.'

Using this definition on our asset we see for example:
  • Compared with the benchmark SPY (37 days) in the period of the last 5 years, the average days below previous high of 47 days of Dr. Bernstein's No Brainer Portfolio is larger, thus worse.
  • Compared with SPY (31 days) in the period of the last 3 years, the average time in days below previous high water mark of 41 days is greater, thus worse.

Performance (YTD)

Historical returns have been extended using synthetic data.

Allocations ()

Allocations

Returns (%)

  • 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, 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.