Showing posts with label asset allocation. Show all posts
Showing posts with label asset allocation. Show all posts

Saturday 12 August 2017

Annual rebalancing Excel calculator

Over on the excellent Monevator site the following question was posed by Gregory today:
“You are an early retiree and have a portfolio of £875,000. You don’t follow the 5/25 rule but withdraw Your inflation adjusted money and rebalance Your portfolio once a year for example on Your birthday.  On Your birthday You want to withdraw £27200.  The current (£;%) and target asset allocations:
- UK equities: £70000; 8% vs. 6% target
- Developed world ex-UK equities: £350000; 40% vs. 38% target
- Global small cap equities: £70000; 8% vs. 7% target
- Emerging market equities: £96250 ; 11% vs. 10% target
- Global property: £35000; 4% vs. 7% target
- UK gilts: £192500 22% vs. 26% target
- UK index-linked gilts: £61250 7% vs. 6% target
How would You withdraw and rebalance?”

I suggested that firstly Gregory hadn’t really given us enough information:
  • You say you don’t want to use the 5/25 Rule but don’t detail what rule you are using. Surely you’re not going to rebalance every fund no matter how far from nominal you are as that would incur trading costs that might not be economically sensible. I’m going to assume you’ll rebalance if an asset class deviates more than £4,000 which means in this instance you’re going to be buying/selling every asset class this time around.
  • You don’t say if your assets are held in Inc or Acc products. Given you have no cash anywhere I’ll assume Acc. Inc would have made this easier during both the accrual and drawdown phases IMHO but let’s move on.

Saturday 18 June 2016

My Early Retirement Financial Strategy and Portfolio

With FIRE now on the doorstep it’s time to finalise what my early retirement drawdown strategy and portfolio is going to look like.

Firstly, let’s look at the strategy and portfolio that has put me where I am today.  I first published it in detail in 2009 and then polished it slightly in 2012.  In brief it was about building significant wealth (at least for me) in quick time.  Quick time was less than 10 years which meant I needed to be accruing wealth in relation to My Number at just a little less than 1% per month.  A very aggressive target when I look at it that way in hindsight but one which provided Mr Market behaves for just a few more months looks real.

By living frugally while focusing on earning more I believed I could Save Hard.  To date my Savings Rate has averaged around 52% of Gross Earnings so that has played out.  This then advantaged me when it came to investing as I didn’t have to take great investment risk giving me an increased probability of success.  I called it Investing Wisely.  As it turns out since starting my annualised investment return has been 5.9% which is 3.3% after inflation.

When I came out I stated that at the point of Early Retirement I wanted wealth of £1 million (it was actually £1,011,000).  Today my trusty Excel spreadsheet is telling me that once I hit £1,023,000 I’m good to retire.  At this point it’s then no longer about building wealth but instead the simple problem of ensuring I outlive my wealth which will be drawn on as I’ll have no other earnings.  I suspect it may require a slightly different strategy and investment portfolio to that which I have today.  That said the principles of tax efficiency, low expenses and a diversified investment portfolio, with a key decision of what Bond to Equity Allocation Percentage at its core, I intend to keep.

Given the seriousness of this topic it’s about now that I have to pop in a wealth warning:  History is not a predictor of the future, this is not financial advice, I’m not a financial planner and I’m just an average person who’s made investment mistakes on a DIY Investment journey to Financial Independence.  The post is also just for educational purposes only and is not a recommendation of any type.  Ok let’s move on...

My current estimates, based on my forecast FIRE date, suggest I’ll actually overshoot my FIRE wealth Number with circa £1,117,000.  A Mediterranean life will then mean a life priced in Euro’s.  The average exchange rate with the £ since the Euro’s inception has been 1.3742.  I’m not going to bank on that.  Instead, I’m going to use the worst average year since inception, which was 2009, with its rate of 1.123.  That gives me EUR1,254,000 of wealth to buy a home with and live from for the rest of my life.  I’m going to assume a 40 year retirement period.

Saturday 28 February 2015

Active vs Passive Portfolio Rebalancing

When I set out my Investing Strategy some years ago, which included my initial asset allocation as well as how that allocation would change over time, I effectively established a portfolio risk vs return characteristic.  Over time that asset allocation has and will continue to change as different asset classes provide different returns in relation to each other.  To recapture the required portfolio risk vs return characteristic I then need to periodically rebalance the portfolio.  Importantly, I rebalance to manage risk rather than to maximise returns.  Over the years I've found that I follow effectively two types of rebalancing – what I call Active and Passive Rebalancing.

Active Rebalancing

Active is what you will predominantly read about in books or online.  There is not much conflict out there as to what it is.  It is simply selling down the assets that have performed the best and using those funds to top up those assets that have performed the worst.  What you will see plenty of conflict about is the frequency of when you should rebalance.  I've seen preset frequencies talked about which could be monthly, quarterly, half yearly, annually or even longer periods.  It could also be triggered by a memorable date such as a birthday or the New Year.  Personally I'm conscious that every time I rebalance Actively it’s likely I’ll be staring down the barrel of trading expenses, possibly taxes and certainly lost time that could be spent doing something else.

With this in mind and given my whole mantra has always been to minimise expenses and taxes I instead adopted and have stayed with a valuation based rebalancing approach.  This is not complicated and is simply if any asset allocation moves more than 25% away from a nominal holding I will either sell or buy (as appropriate) enough of that asset to move the allocation back to nominal.  This methodology plus the Passive Rebalancing element, which I’ll cover in a minute, has meant I've been forced to do very infrequent rebalancing.

Saturday 21 February 2015

Why I Hold Gold in my Portfolio

In my experience if you’re discussing UK Equities as part of an investment portfolio its validity is unlikely to be challenged and any response is likely to be fairly passive.  A typical response might be something like what percentage allocation do you have.  If you say to somebody that you hold Gold then the responses can be far more variable.  At the extreme they can range from I don’t believe in Gold as an investment as it doesn’t pay a dividend because it just sits there looking shiny to I’m 100% invested in Gold, guns, ammo and tinned beans.

Within my own portfolio I target a holding of 5%.  So why do I hold gold?  It’s for the same reason that I buy property or gilts on top of my equities.  To quote Bernstein’s The Intelligent Asset Allocator it’s simply because ‘Dividing your portfolio between assets with uncorrelated results increases return while decreasing risk’ which is a key concept within Modern Portfolio Theory (MPT).  Bernstein continues with ‘Mixing assets with uncorrelated returns reduces risk, because when one of the assets is zigging, it is likely that the other is zagging.’  The keyword in the first quote is uncorrelated.  In the book he works up some examples to validate these statements.

Let’s run a simple analysis looking to see if we can find an example of gold being uncorrelated with another asset class.

My first chart shows how the Monthly Gold Price in Pounds Sterling (£’s) has changed since 1979.  Over the past year its Price has fallen by 0.6%.  We looked in detail at the FTSE100 last week so let’s use that as a different asset comparator as that dataset is up to date.  Over the past year the Price of the FTSE100 has risen 7.0%.

Gold Priced in Pounds Sterling (£)
Click to enlarge

Diverting quickly for completeness, as I always like to show charts in Real terms to remove the emotion that comes with the unit of measure continually being devalued by inflation, let me quickly also show the Real Gold Price in Pounds.

Real Gold Priced in Pounds Sterling (£)
Click to enlarge

Saturday 7 February 2015

The Investment Products to Build a Portfolio should be Trivial : Time Suggests Otherwise

Once you’ve done plenty of your own research (which in my opinion must include a thorough read of Tim Hale's Smarter Investing: Simpler Decisions for Better Results), decided upon the different asset classes that will form your balanced investment portfolio and then decided on the percentage allocation to those different asset classes it’s time to select (and buy) the Investment Products that will give you that real world balanced portfolio.

The theory says that this should be trivial and achievable with only a small amount of products.  At an extreme it could be nothing more than a Vanguard LifeStrategy Equity Fund.  Having now been at this investing game for over 7 years I've personally found that in its infancy you will need more products than you really should and you’ll also not always be able to select the optimum products so will end up with compromise.  Then as time progresses you will end up with more and more stamps for your stamp collection.

There are many reasons for this but some might include spreading provider (whether wrapper and/or investment) risk, new products that give benefits over what you currently hold, inability to buy your preferred product in a particular account, tinkering because personal finance is a hobby and even as a result of some good old fashioned investing mistakes.

Let me demonstrate with my own investment portfolio.  These are the top level asset classes and allocations to each class I'm currently holding:

RIT Low Charge Investment Portfolio
Click to Enlarge

Looks simple doesn’t it?  Now let’s look in detail at ALL of the investment products that make up my portfolio.

UK Equities:
  • Vanguard FTSE UK All Share Index Unit Trust (Income).  This fund tracks the FTSE All Share Index, has a TER of 0.08% and a Stamp Duty Reserve Tax at initial purchase of 0.2%.  I'm happy with this fund however there is one small consideration that would make me 100% satisfied.  I'm with the ermine in that psychologically during retirement I would very much prefer to live only on dividends rather than having to also sell down capital.  In partial conflict with this the Vanguard fund pays dividends only once per year.  One idea to keep expenses low but increase dividend frequency would be to create a pseudo All Share Index.  85% of the FTSE All Share Index is the FTSE100 Index with the majority of the remainder being FTSE250.  By buying 75% Vanguard FTSE100 UCITS ETF (VUKE) and 25% Vanguard FTSE100 UCITS ETF (VMID) results in a TER of 0.09% but dividends paid quarterly instead of yearly.  At this time I won’t act on this as in retirement I’ll be keeping at least 12 months essential living expenses in cash so should be able to manage with annual dividends.
  • My High Yield Portfolio (HYP) which continues to build nicely.  This portfolio has a TER of 0.0% (but it does have buy/sell dealing fees and 0.5% stamp duty on initial purchase) and as a believer of expenses matter that’s fine by me.
  • I'm generally happy with what’s going on with the UK Equities portion of my portfolio.

Saturday 27 September 2014

How difficult is it to segregate our assets

In the modern, in my opinion overly complex, financial world there must by now be nearly as many investment risks as there are grains of sand on that now long forgotten Spanish beach where you spent your summer holiday.  One of these is that your broker/wrapper/online provider goes belly up and takes your wealth with it because they failed to segregate your assets from their own through fraud, negligence or even good old fashioned incompetence.  Here I am currently most exposed through my SIPP provider Youinvest, my ISA provider TD Direct, my trading account provider Hargreaves Lansdown and the large insurance company (the name of which I won’t mention as I could never recommend any element of their offering) who ‘looks after’ my defined contribution pension offered through my employer.

The same problem exists if the same fate befalls your fund manager.  Here I'm personally seeing significant exposure through Vanguard, State Street Global Advisors (SSgA) and BlackRock (think iShares).

It’s a risk I've known about for some time but on a scale of risks that I’m conscious of I had it ranked fairly low, thus wasn't doing too much about, as I thought that:

  1. The process of segregating your customers assets from your own really isn't very difficult so it should occur through negligence or incompetence very infrequently;
  2. Given its simplicity non-segregation would be easily and quickly identified by the firms accountants, compliance officers, auditors and/or regulator should it occur; and
  3. Non-segregated amounts, should they occur, would be relatively small in relation to total assets under management so result in only a relatively small loss given a large sum would be like an elephant standing in the room for those same accountants, compliance officers, auditors and/or regulators.

News this week tells me that my assumptions were naive and just plain wrong with Barclays investment arm having owned up to having “£16.5bn of clients' assets "at risk" between November 2007 and January 2012”.  This is neither a small amount of money nor a short period of time.  It also happened to occur during the period when Barclays was in severe financial difficulties and had to be ‘bailed out’ by the state investment funds and royal families of Qatar and Abu Dhabi to the tune of £7.3 billion.  It’s also not the only time with them having been penalised back in 2011 for “failing to ring-fence client money in one of its accounts for more than eight years”.  Of course Barclays say that ‘it did not profit from the issue and no customers lost out’ but they would say that wouldn't they and given the timing it could have easily been a very different story.

Sunday 30 December 2012

Allocation to UK Equities

My Low Charge Investment Strategy requires a strategic nominal asset allocation to UK Equities of 20% of total portfolio value.  I then add my tactical asset allocation spin which given the current valuation of the FTSE100 requires that allocation be lowered slightly to 19.6%.  My current allocation is spot on 19.6% with allocations to all asset classes shown in the chart below.

Click to enlarge

Over the past couple of years I have been able to move my UK Equities investments into a position where I feel they are now relatively low expense and tax efficient.  Let’s look in a little more detail.

My UK Equities are now divided into two simple pots.  The first pot is 16.4% of the allocation.  This is all located within the Vanguard FTSE UK Equity Index Fund which is located within a Sippdeal SIPP wrapper.  I chose the Vanguard fund as it has good tracking of the performance of the FTSE All Share Index, which contains household names like HSBC, BP, Vodafone, Shell, GlaxoSmithKline, British American Tobacco, Diageo, BHP and Rio Tinto, while having a Total Expense Ratio (TER) of only 0.15%.  Note that on initial purchase you are subjected to a Preset Dilution Levy (SDRT) of 0.5% however this was not a major factor for me as I intend to hold the majority of this fund forever meaning this charge will become insignificant. 

The Sippdeal SIPP wrapper also subjects me to some extra expenses which are online dealing fees of £9.95 per purchase and a quarterly custody charge of £12.50, which covers all the funds within my Sippdeal pension.  For me Sippdeal was the cheapest pension wrapper for the asset types held with these fixed charges, as opposed to a percentage of asset value, helping as my SIPP pot is now relatively large.  Vanguard plus the Sippdeal wrapper have helped me reduce my costs significantly as the funds came from two old work Group Personal Pensions (GPP) which were both held with Aviva and were incurring high expenses of 0.85% and 1%.

Sunday 30 September 2012

The Retirement Investing Today Low Charge Strategy and Portfolio

This blog is fast approaching its third anniversary.  In my first naive post I laid out in very brief terms “what” some of my investing strategy was about having developed it from the decision to go DIY in 2007.  This post also briefly described “why” I was taking the road I had chosen.  Soon after I laid out in detail the construction of what I called My Low Charge Investment Portfolio.  To this day I have continued to improve on the original portfolio methodology ever so slightly while holding true to the fundamentals of the strategy.  Since October 2009 that strategy and portfolio has seen my net worth increase by 73% in nominal terms.  Additionally, since October 2007 my net worth has increased by 306%.

Since that first post I have made 239 posts covering many topics.  If you’re interested some of the latest or most popular can be found in the sidebar.  Every post can also be found in the blog archive also found in the side bar.  While it’s all there as a fully accountable record I’m going to use today’s post to bring a number of my key fundamentals which cover strategy, portfolio and portfolio rebalancing into one single aide memoir.

Retirement Investing Today Strategy

The strategy is set around a decision to retire as early as possible.  It’s important to note that retirement for me does not mean a life of leisure.  It simply means that work becomes optional.  I may choose to stay in my current career, may start a new career which could involve voluntary work or it could be a life of leisure.  I don’t intend to make that decision today as anything can happen between now and retirement.  At the time of writing this post my portfolio models show my early retirement window appearing in around 3.5 years when I will be in my early 40’s.

Friday 13 August 2010

It’s been a good year to date, well maybe it has - my Retirement Investing Today Current Low Charge Portfolio – August 2010

Why has it been good year to date for my portfolio? Well year to date my Personal Rate of Return is 3.9%, which compares favourably against my Benchmark Portfolio which has returned 3.0%. For non-regular readers my Benchmark Portfolio is as simple as it can get by using 28% iBoxx® Sterling Liquid Corporate Long-Dated Bond Index total return (capital & Income) index and 72% FTSE 100 total return (capital & income) index.

Wednesday 7 July 2010

My Retirement Investing Today Current Low Charge Portfolio – July 2010

I first started taking my retirement investing asset strategy seriously in 2007 when I became disillusioned with the financial sector and decided to go it alone. While I made a start in 2007 the majority of the time was spent reading about personal finance and it wasn’t until 2008 that I really started to formulate the strategy that you see today. The strategy could be called extreme. I aim to save on average 60% of my after tax earnings and pension salary sacrifices. Following this strategy has me currently forecasting retirement in 6 years. This monthly entry calls me to account and forces me to assess if I am still on track and to determine if all the effort is worth it or whether I would be better off with a simple bond/equity asset allocation that is rebalanced yearly. What I call the Benchmark.

Sunday 4 July 2010

Buying Australian Equity Index Tracker (ASX200)

As I’m sure everyone knows the Australian Stock has seen some falls of recent weeks. Using my monthly data set it’s down 13% from the monthly peak of 4876 in March 2010. Of course it’s still well above the monthly low of 3345 in February 2009 by some 27%. These falls have meant that my target asset allocation of ASX200 equities within my Low Charge Portfolio has risen to 20.9% and my actual has fallen to 17.0%. If you’re not sure about how I built my asset allocation and particularly how I use tactical allocations then please read here and here.

Monday 7 June 2010

My Current Low Charge Portfolio – June 2010

Buying (New money): Since my last post I have had a good month of savings and managed to save 72% of my after tax earnings and pension salary sacrifices. Total new money entering my Retirement Investing Low Charge Portfolio was around 0.8% of my total portfolio value. The allocation was as follows: 42.0% to cash, 8.7% to UK equities, 12.2% to international equities, 2.3% to index linked gilts and 34.8% to UK commercial property. This money was invested outside of tax wrappers and also within a pension.

Friday 4 June 2010

Buying Emerging Markets Equities

Yesterday I rebalanced my Retirement Investing Today Low Charge Portfolio by moving 0.6% from cash into emerging markets equities (ie buying equities with cash). Emerging market equities are an important part of my portfolio as I explained here.

Sunday 9 May 2010

Bulls, bears and the 200 day moving average

A search online for the 200 day moving average or simple moving average (200 dma or 200 sma) will reveal many hits and a lot of different opinions. Firstly what is the 200 dma? In its simplest form it is the average of a markets closing price over a 200 day period. To construct the average you add the last 200 days closing prices and divide by 200. Another form is the 200 day exponential moving average (200 ema) which is a little more complex and provides more weight to young price data and less weight to old price data.

Tuesday 4 May 2010

My Current Low Charge Portfolio – May 2010

Edited 06 June 2010: I have found more exact data allowing me to determine benchmark returns to the day. I have therefore updated the data in this post to reflect this.
Apologies for the confusion but I'm learning here too.
Buying (New money): Since my last post I have struggled with my savings a little and managed to save only 53% of my after tax earnings and pension salary sacrifices. While I’m unhappy with the month’s savings rate I still believe it is well above the average punter on the street. Total new money entering my retirement investing Low Charge Portfolio was around 0.7% of my total portfolio. This were allocated as follows: 37.6% to cash, 9.4% to UK equities, 13.1% to international equities, 2.5% to index linked gilts and 37.4% to UK commercial property. This money was invested both outside of tax wrappers and also within a pension.

Thursday 8 April 2010

Investing mistakes I’ve made – contango and exchange traded commodities (ETC’s)

Since I took full responsibility for my retirement investing strategy I’ve made some mistakes that have cost me money. I’m also sure that going forward I’ll probably make some more. What however is key for me is that if I make a mistake I never make that same mistake again. Over the coming months, if I get time, I will try and share some of these mistakes with you so that you can do your own research which hopefully might even save you some money. The first of these was not understanding how exchange traded commodities (ETC’s) work plus also not understanding the concept of contango that is associated with many ETC’s.

Monday 5 April 2010

2010 Quarter 1 Retirement Investing Portfolio Review

Edited 06 June 2010: I have found more exact data allowing me to determine benchmark returns to the day. I have therefore updated the data in this post to reflect this. As the blog has developed I have also changed the method used to calculate the returns as I have learnt more accurate methods. I started with:
- [assets at end of period – assets at start of period – new money entering portfolio] divided by [assets at start of period],
- then used the mid-point Dietz which was a more accurate method,
- and now use Excel's XIRR function for anual returns. If it is not a full year I then adjust XIRR by the PRR (Personal Rate of Return) = [(1+XIRR Annualised Return)^(# of days/365)]–1.
Apologies for the confusion but I'm learning here too.
The first quarter is over so it’s time to benchmark my low charge retirement investing portfolio against a simple Strategic Asset Allocation that anybody could implement in next to no time. It’s a basic stock/bond asset allocation with the stocks portion being represented by the FTSE 100 total return (capital & income) index and the bond portion being represented iBoxx® Sterling Liquid Corporate Long-Dated Bond Index total return (capital & Income) index.

Sunday 4 April 2010

My Current Low Charge Portfolio – April 2010

Buying (New money): Since my last post I have continued living frugally and saved 81% of my net earnings and pension salary sacrifices. Total new money entering my retirement investing Low Charge Portfolio was around 1.5%. These were allocated as follows: 69.5% to cash, 4.6% to UK equities, 6.4% to international equities, 1.2% to index linked gilts and 18.3% to UK commercial property. This money was invested both outside of any tax wrappers and also within a pension.

Saturday 27 March 2010

Investing to minimise fees and taxes

Two key elements of my retirement investing strategy are to minimise fees and taxes. This is due to the fact that small changes in annual returns make large differences when compound interest works its magic over many years. Fees and taxes greatly affect those annual returns. For example if I invest a lump sum of £1,000 and achieve an annual investment return of 6% over 30 years I will end up with £5,743. Change that return to 6.5% and I achieve £6,614. So by saving 0.5% annually, which is easily done for most people in my opinion, you can end up with an additional 15% in your pocket. Not bad for taking an active interest in your own investment portfolio and doing a little shopping around and research.

Thursday 25 March 2010

Buying Gilts, Property, International Equities and UK Equities

As an employee of a company I have the option to contribute to a pension scheme. I have made the choice as part of my retirement investing strategy to contribute to the pension scheme for the reasons laid out here.