Description

David Swensen is manager of Yale University's endowment fund. He has addressed how investors should set up and manage their investments in his book, Unconventional Success: A Fundamental Approach to Personal Investment.

The Swensen portfolio consists of six core asset class allocations:

US equity: 30%

Foreign developed equity: 15%

Emerging market equity: 5%

US REITS: 20%

US Treasury bonds: 15%

US TIPS: 15%

Statistics (YTD)

What do these metrics mean? [Read More] [Hide]

TotalReturn:

'Total return, when measuring performance, is the actual rate of return of an investment or a pool of investments over a given evaluation period. Total return includes interest, capital gains, dividends and distributions realized over a given period of time. Total return accounts for two categories of return: income including interest paid by fixed-income investments, distributions or dividends and capital appreciation, representing the change in the market price of an asset.'

Applying this definition to our asset in some examples:
  • Compared with the benchmark SPY (62.6%) in the period of the last 5 years, the total return, or increase in value of 25.3% of Yale U's Unconventional Portfolio is lower, thus worse.
  • During the last 3 years, the total return, or performance is 9.5%, which is lower, thus worse than the value of 32.1% 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.'

Applying this definition to our asset in some examples:
  • Compared with the benchmark SPY (10.2%) in the period of the last 5 years, the compounded annual growth rate (CAGR) of 4.6% of Yale U's Unconventional Portfolio is smaller, thus worse.
  • Compared with SPY (9.7%) in the period of the last 3 years, the annual performance (CAGR) of 3.1% is smaller, thus worse.

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.'

Using this definition on our asset we see for example:
  • Compared with the benchmark SPY (21.5%) in the period of the last 5 years, the 30 days standard deviation of 13.5% of Yale U's Unconventional Portfolio is lower, thus better.
  • During the last 3 years, the volatility is 16%, which is lower, thus better than the value of 24.8% from the benchmark.

DownVol:

'The downside volatility is similar to the volatility, or standard deviation, but only takes losing/negative periods into account.'

Using this definition on our asset we see for example:
  • Compared with the benchmark SPY (15.6%) in the period of the last 5 years, the downside volatility of 10% of Yale U's Unconventional Portfolio is smaller, thus better.
  • Compared with SPY (17.9%) in the period of the last 3 years, the downside risk of 12% is lower, thus better.

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.'

Which means for our asset as example:
  • Looking at the risk / return profile (Sharpe) of 0.16 in the last 5 years of Yale U's Unconventional Portfolio, we see it is relatively smaller, thus worse in comparison to the benchmark SPY (0.36)
  • During the last 3 years, the Sharpe Ratio is 0.04, which is lower, thus worse than the value of 0.29 from the benchmark.

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:
  • The ratio of annual return and downside deviation over 5 years of Yale U's Unconventional Portfolio is 0.21, which is smaller, thus worse compared to the benchmark SPY (0.5) in the same period.
  • Compared with SPY (0.4) in the period of the last 3 years, the ratio of annual return and downside deviation of 0.05 is lower, thus worse.

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.'

Which means for our asset as example:
  • Compared with the benchmark SPY (8.52 ) in the period of the last 5 years, the Ulcer Ratio of 7.78 of Yale U's Unconventional Portfolio is lower, thus better.
  • Compared with SPY (10 ) in the period of the last 3 years, the Ulcer Index of 9.65 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.'

Using this definition on our asset we see for example:
  • Compared with the benchmark SPY (-33.7 days) in the period of the last 5 years, the maximum DrawDown of -26.2 days of Yale U's Unconventional Portfolio is higher, thus better.
  • Looking at maximum DrawDown in of -26.2 days in the period of the last 3 years, we see it is relatively higher, 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) in days.'

Applying this definition to our asset in some examples:
  • Compared with the benchmark SPY (235 days) in the period of the last 5 years, the maximum days under water of 237 days of Yale U's Unconventional Portfolio is greater, thus worse.
  • Looking at maximum time in days below previous high water mark in of 237 days in the period of the last 3 years, we see it is relatively larger, thus worse in comparison to SPY (235 days).

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:
  • The average time in days below previous high water mark over 5 years of Yale U's Unconventional Portfolio is 56 days, which is larger, thus worse compared to the benchmark SPY (55 days) in the same period.
  • Looking at average days below previous high in of 61 days in the period of the last 3 years, we see it is relatively greater, thus worse in comparison to SPY (59 days).

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 Yale U's Unconventional 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.