The 7Twelve Portfolio by Craig Israelsen is an asset-based approach to diversification that balances portfolio returns by investing in a wide variety of unique asset types.
- 12.5% Large Cap Blend¹
- 12.5% Small Cap Blend¹
- 8.3% International Stocks
- 8.3% Emerging Markets
- 17% Intermediate Bonds²
- 8.3% International Bonds
- 8.3% Cash
- 16.6% Commodities³
- 8.3% REITs
1. Israelsen specifically recommends equal parts large cap blend, mid cap blend, and small cap blend. The data here simplifies that to half large caps and half small caps. Because most large cap index funds include mid caps and many small cap funds also have more mid caps than you might expect, the results should be very similar. But if you want to follow his recommendation to the letter, you might consider looking for a separate mid-cap fund.
2. Israelsen specifically recommends equal parts nominal bonds and TIPS. Since I don’t have specific data for TIPS, I allocated this portion to intermediate term bonds. While this is a pretty good proxy that should model the design intent reasonably well, be sure to read Israelsen’s justifications for why he chooses the bonds he does.
3. He specifically recommends 8.3% commodities and 8.3% natural resources, but good data for natural resources is not available. Keeping with his theme of having two equal segments in the “resources” category, I allocated the natural resources to the commodities portion. There’s a decent amount of overlap in commodities and natural resources ETFs, so I anticipate this will not change the results all that much.
4. The Portfolio Charts tools use round numbers, so I reallocated the portfolio slightly while preserving the original design intent as closely as possible.
Find country-specific versions and appropriate ETFs using the Performance charts.
In contrast to the old-school definition of diversification in terms of company count, the 7Twelve Portfolio seeks to enhance performance and reduce risk by diversifying among a wide variety of different asset types. The name is derived from the 12 different funds in the portfolio spread across 7 different asset classes.
- US Stock (large, mid, and small caps)
- Non-US Stock (developed, emerging)
- Real Estate
- Resources (natural resources, commodities)
- US Bonds (nominal, TIPS)
- Non-US Bonds
Israelsen describes the thought process of mixing asset types as similar to making salsa, where individual ingredients may seem bland or way too spicy on their own but are all critical to the success of the recipe. The 7Twelve Portfolio assets are weighted in equal proportions, and he classifies it as a “core” portfolio that should be built around rather than tweaked. For example, his age based models all equally weight the same assets where the only difference is the percentage of cash that can be increased to reduce risk for older investors.
Books about the 7Twelve Portfolio, and others by Craig Israelsen
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Insights that mention the 7Twelve Portfolio
Portfolios with a similar structure or design intent
Ivy Portfolio — Broad equal weight diversification across many of the same asset categories
Golden Butterfly — Similar percentages of stocks, bonds, and real assets
Pinwheel Portfolio — Domestic and international diversification with targeted tilts
Change the home country to translate the portfolio to local assets, currency, and inflation.