Like the flour and sugar in a well-stocked pantry, assets are the ingredients that are added in specific portions into your portfolio recipe. Rather than looking at individual stocks, Portfolio Charts focuses on low-cost index funds that track a wide variety of popular assets. Each index contains hundreds or even thousands of securities, so a thoughtful investor can diversify their portfolio quite well by purchasing just a handful of funds.
The two most important primary characteristics of any index fund are the market (individual country or collection of countries) that it covers and the asset class that it tracks. While no two funds from different providers are exactly the same, as long as they track the same market and asset class they will generally have very similar performance.
There are nine basic markets on the site, and they’re classified as either domestic or international. Domestic markets include Australia, Canada, Germany, Japan, the United Kingdom, and the United States. International markets include World, World ex-US, and Emerging Markets. Definitions are provided within each category. Any index fund you purchase will specify the market it covers, and sometimes you may have to purchase more than one index fund to cover every market you’d like.
The asset class for any given index fund describes the types of securities it holds. Stocks are split by size and valuation, bonds are sorted by average maturity, and real assets are unique physical items. Each asset class page provides detailed information on index definitions as well as a few tips on what to look for when building your own portfolio.
Each asset class has a unique color in each portfolio image, and you’ll also see the color codes repeated throughout the site as a visual guide to overall portfolio construction.
- Domestic stocks are red
- International stocks are blue
- Bonds are green
- Real Assets are purple
Perhaps most importantly, each asset page includes a list of real-world index funds in a variety of different home countries that accurately track each asset. These are the funds you’ll need to purchase when it comes time to build your own portfolio. If that’s something that interests you but you’re not sure how it all works, here is a good place to start.
Every fund is a little different — even ones ostensibly following the same index — and performance may vary due to things like construction methodology, fees, internal trading costs, taxes on distributions, and securities lending.
While I’ve taken great care to curate the funds listed for each asset, I do not promote any specific funds and I receive no money for listing them. The list is not comprehensive and there may be other funds not shown that are also good options. Also, it’s entirely possible some of the ones shown may not be an exact match for each index. Please don’t take my word for it, and always thoroughly research any fund before you buy.
Long story short:
Always do your own research when selecting a fund to invest your own money. I am not a financial adviser, and the information here is for educational purposes only.
If you spot an error, know of a fund that you think belongs on the list, want to see a new asset added to the site, or know of some good sources for data prior to 1970, please feel free to contact me. My hope is to make this section as helpful and accurate as possible.