Friday, 20 March 2020

Drawdown Strategy Part 2 - Portfolio Design



In my post Retiring on Dividends I concluded that a living off dividend strategy was only going to be viable for the first few years of my retirement as I am going to need more income than natural yield can provide, sadly I can´t just drink the milk I´m going to have to eat the cow as well!  It would be great not to have to touch capital and leave a hefty inheritance and this still may be possible depending upon my longevity and portfolio performance but apologies to my family I´m going to have to be selfish and spend some of your inheritance!

As I discussed in Part 1 of this series about Drawdown Strategy, successful drawdown (not outliving your capital) is complex and has three main elements: Initial Drawdown Rate,  Withdrawal Strategy and the Retirement  Portfolio.  There is a wealth of analysis, discussion and academic research around the subject of portfolio design.  It is a subject that lends itself to analysis with almost a century of market data available allowing researchers access to multiple data sets to which statistical tools such as Monte Carlo Simulation may be applied in order to produce a portfolio that has the highest probability of facilitating  the highest withdrawal rate whilst not depleting the portfolio to zero before the end of the pensioner´s life.   With such a simple objective and everyone sharing the same data and the same tools it is surprising that there is little consensus as to the optimum portfolio evidenced by the dozens of different portfolios publicised by respected financial experts.

The good news for the amateur investor is that there is now a variety of free tools available to help in designing a drawdown portfolio, two of my favourites are Portfolio Visualizer and Portfolio Charts, .. there are several others.  The only downside of all of them is that they are USA centric so whilst excellent for comparing asset allocations, real numbers such as Safe Withdrawal Rates are likely to be optimistic for a UK investor.  The range of investments available to the US investor is also much greater and fees lower and it can be frustrating to identify an asset class such as Small Cap Value which one would like to incorporate into a portfolio only to find that your UK broker cannot trade in it.  My intention in writing these posts is to clarify my thoughts using the best research available in order to devise the optimum retirement income strategy for me.

Portfolio Difference Between Accumulation and Drawdown

I´m sure many financial advisors would disagree but the accumulation phase is easy - 100% equities for 20 to 30 years then a progressive increase in bond holdings.  If you want to make life really easy just go for a product  like Vanguard´s  Target Retirement Funds where all you have to do is select your retirement year and Vanguard will gradually increase your bond allocation as you grow older.

Drawdown Portfolios are different because the portfolio must find the sweet spot between volatility and growth.  On one extreme a portfolio 100% in cash or bonds will have low volatility but such low growth that maybe the Safe Withdrawal Rate (SWR) would only be around 1.5% so an income of only £1500p.a. form a £100k portfolio.  On the other extreme is a 100% stock portfolio that provides a 4%+ SWR but with heart attack provoking crashes of up to 70% in portfolio value combined with the worry of Sequence of Return Risk when you get hit by years of market downturn in the early years of retirement and have to sell off your investments at rock bottom prices.   One of the proponents of a near 100% stock allocation is Warren Buffett.  He has recommended a 90% stock 10% cash or equivalent to his heirs which makes complete sense when 10% cash probably represents a lifetimes income for most of us.

The 60/40 stock/bond portfolio has been the mainstay of retirement investment for decades but since the crash of 2008 and the decade or so of low bond yields it has been widely questioned (see Forbes article) but is is interesting to compare it with some of the popularised alternatives.

Below is an analysis of 13 of of the more common portfolio.  The asset allocation of each can be seen here. The analysis was undertaken using the US Portfolio Analyser Monte Carlo Simulation tool  assuming an initial portfolio value of $1,000,000 and a drawdown rate of 4%, for a 30 year retirement with annual adjustment for inflation.  The simulation uses a historic range of data depending upon the asset classes within the portfolio and the available historic data for that asset.  The simulation creates 10,000 30 year variants of the data set so not only is it taking actual historic 30 year periods it is jumbling the data to create fictional scenarios some of which are likely to me worse return sequences than historically encountered.

The table shows:_

Survival Rate: the percentage of scenarios that did not run out of money before the end of the 30 year retirement period.

10th Percentile SWR:  the minimum safe withdrawal rate (SWR) for 90% of the 10,000 30 year sample periods

10th percentile End Balance:  90% of scenarios would end with a greater portfolio value that this at the end of 30 years.

50th Percentile SWR:  the minimum safe withdrawal rate (SWR)  for 50% of the 10,000 30 year sample periods

50th percentile End Balance:  50% of scenarios would end with a greater portfolio value that this at the end of 30 years.

CAGR. Compound Average Portfolio Growth Rate

Standard Deviation: This is the standard deviation of the CAGR.   A CAGR of 5% with a 10% standard deviation indicates that for the 10,000 sample periods the CAGR varied 5% +/- 10% (4.5% to 5.5%) for 68% of the samples.  The higher the standard deviation the more volatile the portfolio.


PORTFOLIO COMPARISON 30 YEARS 4% INITIAL DRAWDOWN
PortfolioSurvival Rate10th Percentile SWR10th Percentile End Balance50th Percentile SWR50th Percentile End BalanceCAGRSTANDARD DEVIATION
Golden Butterfly99.87%5.7%$3,168,0777.4%$7,895,3688.22%9.96%
40/6099.43%5.2%$1,458,7756.7%$3,987,9908.00%6.54%
60/4098.08%5.1%$1,512,3567.3%$5,896,4218.91%7.00%
Ray Dalio All Weather99.49%5.0%$965,7456.3%$2,575,9186.72%6.78%
Bill Schultheis Coffeee House97.71%5.0%$1,039,5007.0%$4,317,2517.98%8.90%
Harry Browne Permanent Portfolio98.83%4.9%$1,281,1576.2%$3,794,0018.27%7.11%
Bill Bernstein No Brainer94.30%4.5%$616,5807.1%$5,230,8528.61%11.54%
David Swensen Yale Endowment94.59%4.5%$529,0137.0%$4,199,8077.85%10.61%
Scott Burns Couch Potato93.42%4.3%$239,7096.1%$2,293,3936.57%7.77%
Rick Ferri Core Four92.28%4.3%$255,7647.1%$4,658,2688.15%11.43%
Bogleheads Three Funds92.30%4.2%$273,2397.0%$4,878,3028.48%11.80%
Larry Swedroe Simple Portfolio92.21%4.2%$214,4466.4%$2,983,7187.11%10.03%
David Swensen Lazy Portfolio90.34%4.0%$23,4116.5%$3,050,1607.17%10.68%
Bogleheads Four Funds80.52%3.3%$05.9%$2,017,0086.44%11.96%


The table is ordered by 10th Percentile SWR, in essence by the safest portfolios.   It would have been useful had the analysis shown a direct relationship between growth and volatility but this is far from apparent  with the best performer the Golden Butterfly exhibiting high growth and highish volatility. Interesting that the two runner ups are conventional fixed ratio bond/equity portfolios.

The Golden Butterfly if a clear winner with the highest SWRs for both the 10th and 50th deciles.  End balances are nearly double its nearest rival the 40/60 portfolio and 50% of retirees would have end balances in excess of $7.8m.  Whilst the Standard Deviation of the Golden Butterfly is greater than its nearest rivals it has the lowest drawdown (the maximum decline in portfolio value) of the top 6 portfolios.  For an investor wary of investing in gold and long term bonds and is looking for simplicity the traditional 2 fund equity/bond portfolios are still good options even if they are not the optimum choice.

MAXIMUM PORTFOLIO DRAWDOWN

Validation with Portfolio Charts

Portfolio Charts doesn´t support TIPS as an asset class so it wasn´t possible to compare results for all of the portfolios however it was possible to check the top 6 portfolios and although their are clear differences in the results presumably due to methodology, data sources and time scales however Golden Butterfly is validated as best performer:-


COMPARISON OF RESULTS FROM PORTFOLIO VISUALIZER AND PORTFOLIO CHARTS

The Golden Butterfly Portfolio

The Golden Butterfly originated from Tyler’s  Portfolio Charts and is often considered as a derivative of Harry Browne´s Permanent Portfolio which I looked at in a previous post.  Like the permanent Portfolio is comprises of 4 asset types:-

          • Equities
          • Short term government bonds bonds
          • Long term government bonds
          • Gold

THE GOLDEN BUTTERFLY

Whereas the Permanent Portfolio has equal weightings of each asset,  the Golden Butterfly aims for higher growth by allocating 40% to equities split evenly between Total Market and Small Cap Value and equal allocations to short term government bonds, long term government bonds and gold.

As with the Permanent Portfolio the idea is to have four asset classes to deal with all likely market conditions  - equities provide growth in expansionary markets, gold  in inflationary markets, long term bonds during deflationary periods bonds and short term government bonds/cash provide protection during market crashes.  

ASSET CLASS PERFORMANCE

The Golden Butterfly provides more growth potential by allocating 40% to equities rather than 25% and an allocation of 50% of the equities to Small Cap Value (see Paul Merriman for more information about Small Cap Value).  The higher equity allocation results in higher volatility than The Permanent Portfolio but an average growth rate more than 2.5 percentage points higher. 

Many people will be wary of this portfolio.  Gold is not a well liked asset class and many investors will be wary of investing in long term bonds with interest rates at historic lows.  A further problem is that there are only around 50 years of data available on some of the asset classes so we have no knowledge of how the portfolio would have performed during the late 60s and early 70s when there were 2 market crashes close to one another.  However, the out performance of this portfolio and the rational behind the asset allocation makes it a very attractive option for me and is the portfolio I will use for drawdown.

Choosing the Investment

UK or Overseas?

Any UK investor will have been looking somewhat enviously at overseas markets during the last few years as the UK stock market has lagged the US and global markets significantly.  The FTSE All share total return has grown at an annualised rate of less than 6% over the last 5 years compared with 9.8% for the MSCI World Index (in dollar terms) and 12.3% in sterling (due to the pounds weakness against the dollar and Euro).  It would therefor seem logical to have at least part of the portfolio invested outside of the UK not only to benefit from the possibility of greater growth but also to have regional and currency diversification.

However a recent publication by Credit Suisse (Credit Suisse Global Returns 2018 Yearbook) shows that the difference in UK and USA markets are not so marked when taking local inflation rates into account:-

US REAL RETURNS FROM ASSET CLASSES

UK REAL RETURNS FROM ASSET CLASSES

So the US outperformed 2000-2017, underperformed 1969-2017 and outperformed 1900-2017.  A confusing picture! So overseas diversification is no guarantee of higher returns - you may be lucky ..or not.

Another factor that should favour overseas diversification is the long term decline in the value of sterling.  An exchange rate of $2.4/£  doesn´t seem so long ago and I´m sure many people still remember $4/£.  However, a surprising fact emerges when one examines the real dollar pound exchange rate (Daily Telegraph - 200 year relationship) taking into consideration differential inflation rates. This shows that whilst the nominal value of the pounds has devalued significantly from high points of around $4 to the pound in 1940 to 1.30 today it has in fact in real purchasing value terms stayed remarkably constant. 

It is disconcerting when facts contradict instincts but there is no clear evidence that in the medium term overseas investment will produce higher returns than UK investment (there is evidence for the long term however.).  But the idea of having an investment portfolio that does not participate in the growth of the world´s most successful companies it just too counterintuitive to accept.  So I for me instinct wins out and I will aim to have around 50% of the portfolio outside the UK. 

Implementation of the Golden Butterfly

The US based investor has a wide range of ETFs and funds from which to choose and at lower costs than in the UK.   For instance four of the 5 assets classes of the Golden Butterfly can be sourced from Vanguard USA ETFs:-
  • BLV Long Term Treasury.   Expenses ratio 0.07%
  • VGSH Short Term Treasure.  Expense ratio 0.05%
  • VTI Total Stock Market.  Expense ratio 0.03%
  • VBR Small Cap Value.  Expense Ratio 0.07%
  • Vanguard do not have a Gold ETF but the world´s largest physical gold ETF is SPDR GLD with a 0.4% expense ratio.

Portfolio for a UK Investor

The UK investor has more difficulties than the US investor to implement the Golden Butterfly as there is no Small Cap Value ETF or fund available to him unless his broker provides access to US products.  The nearest alternatives are small company ETFs or funds which historically have higher growth than whole market index funds but lower growth by 1% or so than small cap value.

Where possible I have selected index ETFs or funds.  Harry Browne creator of the Permanent Portfolio proposed direct holding of gold bullion and the purchase of individual government securities rather that funds or ETFs in order to reduce risk third party risks.   Something that some investors might like to consider - but I´m all for a simple life so I´ll keep my fingers crossed  that BlackRock or Vanguard aren´t just giant Ponzi schemes.

I´m only considering sterling gilts for the fixed interest portion of the portfolio.  There is an argument for international bond diversification but this would be a complication too great for me and sticking with sterling fixed interest counterbalances the overseas currency components of the portfolio.


Cash/short term gilts
If the portfolio is kept within a SIPP or ISA there is little alternative but to keep the liquid element of the portfolio in short term gilts and most conveniently via an ETF such as Ishares Gilts 0-5yr or
Invesco Gilts 1-5yr.  If the portfolio is outside of an ISA or SIPP there are far better options available through a combination of easy access and term accounts should allow double the 0.7% or gilt yield with the additional advantage of zero trading costs.

Long Term Gilts
The choice is between an ETF, SPDR Bloomberg Barclays 15+ Year Gilt or the 
Vanguard Long Duration UK Gilt Fund.  Both track the same index and have comparable charges.

                       
EQUITY TOTAL MARKET

UK: Trackers of the FTSE All Share offer historically higher returns than the FTSE100 and greater diversification.  There are various options in ETFs and funds including:-

  • SPDR FTSE All Share,
  • Xtrackers FTSE All Share
  •  Lyxor Core Morningstar UK
  • Vanguard FTSE UK All Share (fund),
  • Fidelity Index UK Fund, 
  • HSBC FTSE All Share Index (fund)



Overseas:

1 year3 year5 year10 yearOCFNO OF STOCKSNORTH AMERICAUK
FUNDVanguard FTSE Developed World ex-U.K17.6%33.3%80.0%221.3%0.14%208168.4%0.0%
FUNDVanguard FTSE Global All Cap Index Fund 15.1%29.0%72.5%200.6%0.23%649558.9%5.0%
FUNDVanguard SRI Global Stock Fund17.1%31.7%71.7%207.9%0.22%181064.4%5.4%
ETFiShares Core MSCI World UCITS ETF20.6%34.9%80.9%NA0.20%164064.4%5.1%

From the perspective of greater diversification the Vanguard All Cap fund is an attractive option giving access to over 6000 companies compared with around 2000 companies for the alternative funds.  However performance is lower than the alternatives and as I already own the Ishares MSCI World ETF I will stick with this. It is available also as a sterling hedged ETF but I will stick with the non-hedged version to provide some currency diversification in the portfolio.

The Vanguard ex-UK fund appears to be a good option for non ETF fans perhaps supplemented with some FTSE All share.  When comparing performance care is needed as index performance is usually dollar based, the Vanguard funds usually in sterling and the Ishares MSCI in dollars.  So 5 year MSCI growth in dollars is about 50% but 80% in sterling.

The global indices all have around 5% UK content which may be far too small for some investors.  I am happy to be more internationally oriented but investors who would prefer a more UK bias can always add a FTSE All Share index fund/ETF.

Small Cap

UK Small Cap 

 Ishares offer a UK Small Cap ETF (CUKS) which has provided excellent performance compared with the FTSE All Share:-


5 Year Annualised
10 Year Annualised
FTSE All Share
5.98%
8.85%
Ishares UK Small Cap
8.81%
12.46%

Overseas Small Cap

Vanguard offer a Global Small Cap Index Fund which again offers superior historic performance to the FTSE All Share Index.



5 YEAR ANNUALISED RETURN
10 YEAR ANNUALISED RETURN
Vanguard Global Small Cap
10.8%
12.4%
MSCI World Small Cap Index
11.06%
12.68
FTSE All Share
5.98%
12.68%



Whilst the small cap UK and Overseas Small Cap Index ETFs/Funds out-perform the FTSA All Share their underperformance compared to UK and Overseas Small Cap Investment Trusts is striking:-



5 YEAR ANNUALISED RETURN
10 YEAR ANNUALISED RETURN
UK


BlackRock Throgmorton Trust
22.69%
21.79%
Standard Life UK Smaller Companies
19.20%
19.63%
Invesco Perpetual UK Smaller Companies
18.59%
19.34%
JPMorgan Smaller Companies
18.52%
18.57%
OVERSEAS


Edinburgh Worldwide
21.09%
17.32%
Herald
17.22%
15.98%
North Atlantic Smaller Companies
12.76%
15.62%
BMO Global Smaller Companies
10.07%
14.80%
In the overseas sector both North Atlantic Smaller Companies and Herald have significant UK holdings so I will exclude them for consideration.  Not included in the above table is the Terrry Smith (Fundsmith founder) Smithson Global Small Cap IT as this only has a year or so track record.

I  had hoped it would be possible to select index funds for the small cap part of the portfolio it is impossible to ignore the performance differences compared with ITs.

My Golden Butterfly Portfolio



GOLDEN BUTTERFLY PORTFOLIO
ASSET
%
CASH
20%
Ishares Gilts 0-5yr
TOTAL STOCK MARKET
20%
iShares Core MSCI World ETF
SMALL CAP UK
10%
BlackRock Throgmorton IT
Standard Life UK Smaller Companies 
SMALL CAP GLOBAL
10%
Edinburgh Worldwide IT
Smithson IT
LONG TERM GILTS
20%
Vanguard Long Duration UK Gilt Fund
GOLD
20%
iShares Physical Gold ETF

   
I have chosen 4 Investment Trusts for the 20% small cap segment of the portfolio, 2 UK based and 2 global and have taken a risk in choosing Smithson but I did the same when Fundsmith launched and that gamble certainly paid off.  Opting for 4 trusts to represent the small cap sector makes portfolio balancing more complicated but reduces the risk of being dependent upon one trust and one manager but without doubt more monitoring will be required than for an index fund.

 So this is how my final portfolio looks (performance as of 11/3/2020):-

Manager
Unit Name
% of Portfolio           
1 Year Perf.




iShares
20.0
-1.5
Vanguard Investments UK 
20.0
28.8
iShares
20.0
1.8
iShares
20.0
27.8
Fundsmith
5.0
6.4
Baillie Gifford & Co Ltd
5.0
1.2
Standard Life Investments
5.0
14.3
BlackRock Investment Management
5.0
12.3
Total Portfolio
Total Portfolio
100.0
12.7




Selected Benchmark
FTSE All Share

-10.7

As one would expect the gold and long term gilts helped protect the portfolio from the Feb/March 2020 market declines.   


Five year performance is shown below (without Smithson due to its newness compensated for by an  extra contribution from Edinburgh Worldwide):-

Manager
Unit Name
% of Portfolio
5 Year Perf.




iShares
20.0
48.5
Vanguard Investments UK
20.0
62.9
iShares
iShares UK Gilts 0-5yr ETF GBP
20.0
5.2
iShares
20.0
63.6
Baillie Gifford & Co Ltd
10.0
105.6
Standard Life Investments
5.0
89.6
BlackRock Investment Management
5.0
110.8
Total Portfolio
Total Portfolio
100.0
50.9




Selected Benchmark
FTSE All Share
11.6



The portfolio has higher growth and lower volatility than the FTSE All Share:-

Performance Analysis
Growth Rate %
Volatility
Alpha
Beta
Sharpe
Info Ratio %
Portfolio
8.8
6.5
7.4
0.4
0.8
0.6
Benchmark - FTSE All Share
3.6
10.7
0.0
1.0
0.0
0.0



International Diversification

Monte Carlo Simulation

A 5 year performance history is a good indicator of relative performance but only tells a small part of the story.  A Monte Carlo simulation is more useful as it analyses a portfolio of similar asset classes over a large number of historical and simulated scenarios.  I have used the Timeline simulation tool to compare the Golden Butterfly with a conventional 60/40 and permanent Portfolio. An exact replication wasn´t possible as Timeline do not have long term gilt or intermediate gilt asset classes, their nearest approximation being UK Aggregate Bonds.



ASSETS
60/40
PERMANENT PORTFOLIO
GOLDEN BUTTERFLY
Cash

25%
20%
UK Aggregate bonds
40%
25%
20%
UK Equities
60%
25%

UK Small Cap


10%
Global Equities


20%
Global Small cap


10%
Gold

25%
20%

The simulation is based upon a 4% withdrawal rate, 3.8% inflation and a target 30 year retirement. The simulation gives the Success Rate in not running out of money before the 30 years have ended, the age at which 10% or fewer retirees would run out of money (assuming an age 65 retirement start), the minimum legacy that 9 our of 10 retirees would leave and finally the lifetime income received.

The Golden Butterfly significantly outperforms the other two portfolios.



OUTCOMES
60/40
EQUITY/BOND
PERMANENT PORTFOLIO
GOLDEN BUTTERFLY
Success Rate
88%
83%
98%
Longevity
93 years
92 years
95 years
Legacy
£0
£0
£278.2k
Lifetime Income
£1.13m
£1.12m
£1.2m

  
Another useful means of comparing performance using historical actual data is through Portfolio Charts.  Again the exact asset classes are not available but using the best approximations does provide a means of comparing portfolios. 


  • Max. Drawdown: Maximum decline in value
  • Recovery Time. How long to recover from a downturn
  • Average Return: Average Inflation Adjusted Return
  • Safe Withdrawal Rate: The initial withdrawal rate that ensures not running out of money during a 30 year retirement with annual withdrawals increasing by the rate of inflation
  • Perpetual Withdrawal rate: The initial withdrawal rate that ensures never running out of money with annual withdrawals increasing by the rate of inflation
PORTFOLIO CHARTS COMPARISON

Max. Drawdown
Recovery Time
Average Return
Safe Withdrawal Rate
Perpetual Withdrawal Rate
60/40 Equity/Bond
57%
12yrs
6.1%
4.0%
3.2%
Permanent Portfolio
9%
5yrs
4.7%
5.3%
3.7%
Golden Butterfly
22%
5yr
5.3%
5.7%
4.3%

The Golden Butterfly permits the highest Safe and Perpetual Withdrawal rates at 5.7% and 4.3%, with a much reduced maximum drawdown and faster recovery time than a 60/40 portfolio.  The Permanent Portfolio offers the lowest maximum drawdown but lower withdrawal rates than the Golden Butterfly.

Conclusion

Using both historical data and Monte Carlo Simulation the Golden Butterfly is the top performing portfolio for retirement drawdown.   There are some caveats: some historical data is limited, some investment products have been in existence less than a decade and whilst is is relatively easy to simulate a US portfolio, the UK investor can only approximate to the ideal Golden Butterfly due to the absence of a UK Small Cap value class and of course finally - the past is no accurate predictor of the future.

I certainly intend to go ahead and implement a Golden Butterfly portfolio.  I already operate a Permanent Portfolio and just by adding my proposed 4 small cap Investment Trusts I can morph the permanent Portfolio into a Golden Butterfly with just the minor issue of timing with the current market volatility and threat of a prolonged bear market.