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 % 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 (64.1%)
- Looking at total return, or performance in of % in the period of the last 3 years, we see it is relatively smaller, thus worse in comparison to SPY (48.1%).

'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 (10.4%) in the period of the last 5 years, the annual return (CAGR) of % of Dr. Bernstein's No Brainer Portfolio is lower, thus worse.
- Compared with SPY (14%) in the period of the last 3 years, the annual performance (CAGR) of % is lower, thus worse.

'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.'

Applying this definition to our asset in some examples:- The historical 30 days volatility over 5 years of Dr. Bernstein's No Brainer Portfolio is %, which is lower, thus better compared to the benchmark SPY (13.6%) in the same period.
- Looking at 30 days standard deviation in of % in the period of the last 3 years, we see it is relatively lower, thus better in comparison to SPY (12.8%).

'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:- The downside volatility over 5 years of Dr. Bernstein's No Brainer Portfolio is %, which is smaller, thus better compared to the benchmark SPY (14.9%) in the same period.
- During the last 3 years, the downside deviation is %, which is smaller, thus better than the value of 14.5% from the benchmark.

'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 risk / return profile (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 (0.58)
- Compared with SPY (0.9) in the period of the last 3 years, the Sharpe Ratio of is smaller, thus worse.

'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:- Looking at the excess return divided by the downside deviation 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 (0.53)
- 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.

'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.'

Applying this definition to our asset in some examples:- Compared with the benchmark SPY (4.02 ) in the period of the last 5 years, the Downside risk index of of Dr. Bernstein's No Brainer Portfolio is smaller, thus better.
- During the last 3 years, the Ulcer Index is , which is lower, thus better than the value of 4.09 from the benchmark.

'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:- Looking at the maximum drop from peak to valley of days in the last 5 years of Dr. Bernstein's No Brainer Portfolio, we see it is relatively larger, thus better in comparison to the benchmark SPY (-19.3 days)
- During the last 3 years, the maximum reduction from previous high is days, which is larger, thus better than the value of -19.3 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:- Compared with the benchmark SPY (187 days) in the period of the last 5 years, the maximum days below previous high of days of Dr. Bernstein's No Brainer Portfolio is smaller, thus better.
- Looking at maximum days under water in of days in the period of the last 3 years, we see it is relatively smaller, thus better in comparison to SPY (139 days).

'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.'

Applying this definition to our asset in some examples:- Compared with the benchmark SPY (41 days) in the period of the last 5 years, the average time in days below previous high water mark 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 smaller, thus better than the value of 35 days from the benchmark.

Historical returns have been extended using synthetic data.
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- "Year" returns in the table above are not equal to 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.