Description of Dr. Bernstein's No Brainer Portfolio

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 of Dr. Bernstein's No Brainer Portfolio (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 (74.4%) in the period of the last 5 years, the total return of % of Dr. Bernstein's No Brainer Portfolio is lower, thus worse.
  • During the last 3 years, the total return, or increase in value is %, which is smaller, thus worse than the value of 48.6% 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.'

Applying this definition to our asset in some examples:
  • The compounded annual growth rate (CAGR) over 5 years of Dr. Bernstein's No Brainer Portfolio is %, which is lower, thus worse compared to the benchmark SPY (11.8%) in the same period.
  • Looking at annual return (CAGR) in of % in the period of the last 3 years, we see it is relatively lower, thus worse in comparison to SPY (14.1%).

Volatility:

'In finance, volatility (symbol σ) is the degree of variation of a trading price series over time as measured by the standard deviation of logarithmic returns. Historic volatility measures a time series of past market prices. Implied volatility looks forward in time, being derived from the market price of a market-traded derivative (in particular, an option). Commonly, the higher the volatility, the riskier the security.'

Using this definition on our asset we see for example:
  • Compared with the benchmark SPY (13.5%) in the period of the last 5 years, the 30 days standard deviation of % of Dr. Bernstein's No Brainer Portfolio is smaller, thus better.
  • Compared with SPY (12.8%) in the period of the last 3 years, the 30 days standard deviation of % is smaller, thus better.

DownVol:

'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 (14.8%) in the period of the last 5 years, the downside deviation of % of Dr. Bernstein's No Brainer Portfolio is lower, thus better.
  • Looking at downside volatility in of % in the period of the last 3 years, we see it is relatively lower, thus better in comparison to SPY (14.6%).

Sharpe:

'The Sharpe ratio is the measure of risk-adjusted return of a financial portfolio. Sharpe ratio is a measure of excess portfolio return over the risk-free rate relative to its standard deviation. Normally, the 90-day Treasury bill rate is taken as the proxy for risk-free rate. A portfolio with a higher Sharpe ratio is considered superior relative to its peers. The measure was named after William F Sharpe, a Nobel laureate and professor of finance, emeritus at Stanford University.'

Applying this definition to our asset in some examples:
  • Looking at the ratio of return and volatility (Sharpe) of 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 (0.69)
  • Looking at Sharpe Ratio in of in the period of the last 3 years, we see it is relatively lower, thus worse in comparison to SPY (0.91).

Sortino:

'The Sortino ratio, a variation of the Sharpe ratio only factors in the downside, or negative volatility, rather than the total volatility used in calculating the Sharpe ratio. The theory behind the Sortino variation is that upside volatility is a plus for the investment, and it, therefore, should not be included in the risk calculation. Therefore, the Sortino ratio takes upside volatility out of the equation and uses only the downside standard deviation in its calculation instead of the total standard deviation that is used in calculating the Sharpe ratio.'

Which means for our asset as example:
  • The downside risk / excess return profile over 5 years of Dr. Bernstein's No Brainer Portfolio is , which is smaller, thus worse compared to the benchmark SPY (0.63) in the same period.
  • During the last 3 years, the ratio of annual return and downside deviation is , which is lower, thus worse than the value of 0.79 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.'

Using this definition on our asset we see for example:
  • The Downside risk index over 5 years of Dr. Bernstein's No Brainer Portfolio is , which is smaller, thus better compared to the benchmark SPY (3.99 ) in the same period.
  • Compared with SPY (4.09 ) in the period of the last 3 years, the Ulcer Index of is lower, thus better.

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.'

Applying this definition to our asset in some examples:
  • Looking at the maximum reduction from previous high of days in the last 5 years of Dr. Bernstein's No Brainer Portfolio, we see it is relatively higher, thus better in comparison to the benchmark SPY (-19.3 days)
  • Compared with SPY (-19.3 days) in the period of the last 3 years, the maximum drop from peak to valley of days is greater, thus better.

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.'

Applying this definition to our asset in some examples:
  • The maximum days below previous high over 5 years of Dr. Bernstein's No Brainer Portfolio is days, which is lower, thus better compared to the benchmark SPY (187 days) in the same period.
  • During the last 3 years, the maximum time in days below previous high water mark is days, which is lower, thus better than the value of 139 days from the benchmark.

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.'

Applying this definition to our asset in some examples:
  • Compared with the benchmark SPY (42 days) in the period of the last 5 years, the average days under water of days of Dr. Bernstein's No Brainer Portfolio is lower, thus better.
  • During the last 3 years, the average time in days below previous high water mark is days, which is lower, thus better than the value of 36 days from the benchmark.

Performance of Dr. Bernstein's No Brainer Portfolio (YTD)

Historical returns have been extended using synthetic data.

Allocations of Dr. Bernstein's No Brainer Portfolio
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Allocations

Returns of Dr. Bernstein's No Brainer Portfolio (%)

  • 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.