In the same way that flour and yeast in the right proportions come together to make bread, portfolios are the recipes that intelligently create a financial plan greater than the sum of its parts. Each portfolio contains various assets mixed in different ways, and the performance of the final result can vary quite a bit between recipes.
Every chef naturally thinks his or her creation is the best and strives to portray it in its best light. For an everyday investor just trying to find a good plan, the amount of information from competing sources can sometimes be quite overwhelming and it’s hard to tell who to trust. The data presented here is my effort to level the playing field and provide a neutral resource to fairly compare the pluses and minuses of a variety of popular portfolio ideas. Many are promoted by famous financial professionals, but I’m not afraid to stack them up against amateur ideas or even my own research. Markets don’t care about credentials, and evidence is the great equalizer.
Depending on your personal financial needs, biases, and emotions some portfolios may be more attractive than others. My philosophy is that there’s no such thing as a single portfolio to rule them all, and that different people require different asset allocations. I will not include an option here that I consider to be a bad idea, so don’t be afraid to browse until you find one that resonates with you.
If you find a portfolio you like and are not sure what to do next, check out my quick guide on how to manage your own portfolio. The Basic Concepts section of the Portfolio Charts Library also has a good selection of resources for beginners.
The core of each portfolio page is the collection of charts. These study the real-life historical performance from a wide variety of angles from accumulation to retirement. If they seem more complicated than you’re used to, it’s because they model every investing timeframe since 1970 simultaneously. I do this to cut through the marketing hype and completely eliminate any cherry-picking of data, as this allows you to see the best and worst cases all in one image.
Each chart is a simplified and standardized version of one of the many calculators on the site. So if you need more explanation or would like to tweak the settings, try visiting the corresponding calculator. I also encourage you to read about the assumptions involved in the methodology.
Rather than simply displaying the data for US-based investors, the portfolios section allows you to select a variety of home countries. All numbers are translated to the local currency and inflation of the selected country.
Perhaps even more helpful than studying the data in isolation is to compare the same chart for different portfolios. Take your time and browse through the many options, and you’ll learn a lot about uncertainty, consistency, and the effect of asset allocation on overall performance.
I’m simply the supplier of portfolio performance information, and the original authors deserve full credit for each portfolio idea. I do what I can to support the smart people who share their diverse investing knowledge in the following ways:
- I provide attribution to each author and encourage everyone to read their original work. You can find references to their books and blogs on each portfolio page, and also aggregated for all portfolios in the Portfolio Theory page.
- I do my best to preserve design intent and to not twist the author’s recommendation in any way. The only reason I may change percentages is when I don’t have the right data, and when that happens I choose alternative assets that I believe represent the design intent as closely as possible. I always point out when I do that and why.
If you ever see something that looks like an error or that you think needs clarification, please don’t hesitate to contact me. Trust is earned, and I’m willing to do the work!
The numbers you find here may differ from the numbers provided by portfolio authors in their own writing for the same timeframe. This is because we likely use different data sources.
The data has no guarantee of accuracy. It is from the best free sources I can get my hands on and I take great care to double-check calculations, but I do occasionally make mistakes. Never make a decision based solely on the data you see here.
I’m not paid to list any portfolio on this site, and I have no financial interest in promoting any financial author. I only list portfolios here because I find them interesting and helpful.
Never take anything I write as promoting a particular portfolio for you personally. I don’t know the specifics of your situation, and even if I did I’m in no position to tell you how to invest your own life savings. I’m not a financial adviser — I’m just a neutral engineer with good data and an interest in the truth.