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Advice on my Asset Allocation - 100% Equity 0% Bonds

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  • Advice on my Asset Allocation - 100% Equity 0% Bonds

    Hi everyone, I'm looking for some feedback about a portfolio allocation I am thinking of committing myself to. I already have an aggressive asset allocation (90%equity/10%bonds) but I'm thinking of getting rid of my bonds and going 100% equity.

    Background:
    I am young (low 30s), a PGY-1 in EM, debt-free with a decade commitment to the military (I already have 14 years of active service). Assuming an average military promotion cycle, I'll leave the military in my late 40s with an annual pension in the 60-80K range (2017 dollars) with good health benefits.

    Current Asset Allocation (90% Equity / 10% Bonds):
    45% Vanguard Total Stock Market Index Fund
    20% Vanguard Small-Cap Value Index Fund
    15% Vanguard Total International Stock Index Fund
    10% Vanguard REIT Index Fund
    10% Vanguard Total Bond Market Index Fund

    Proposed Asset Allocation (100% Equity):
    40% Vanguard Total Stock Market Index Fund
    20% Vanguard Small-Cap Value Index Fund
    20% Vanguard Total International Stock Index Fund
    20% Vanguard REIT Index Fund

    I have put a lot of thought into my aggressive asset allocation, and while very controversial, I came to the conclusion that because I'm young, will have a decent pension with health benefits that I can live on for the rest of my life (and thus weather volatile markets in retirement age), that I don't need bonds. To me, the benefit of "smoothing" out the volatility of the stock market with bonds isn't as important because I'm in my accumulation phase, won't be touching my portfolio for at least 30 years, and have a generous military pension. I'd rather have the historically increased returns stocks have provided over bonds. I understand that past performance does not guarantee future results, but I think over a long-enough time horizon (30+ years), the probability of bonds outperforming stocks is very low.

    Assuming I can faithfully stay the course with my 100% stock allocation (I remained invested through the 2008 recession), am I crazy for having this aggressive of a portfolio allocation? I feel that my military pension gives me the room to stay aggressive for at least the next 30 years. I presume when I do come close to tapping into my retirement 30+ years from now, that I would start allocating a percentage of my portfolio to bonds.

    Any comments are appreciated.

  • #2
    Remember Vanguard Total Stock Market includes REIT's as a sector now.  Are you taking that into account with your 20% REIT allocation?  Overall I don't think 100% Stock is "crazy" for your age, but may not be optimal.  I would suggest reading Triumph of the Optimists by Dimson before you decide.  Basically the time period it can take for stocks to outperform bonds can be longer than you realize and may not correspond to your personal timeframe and future needs.

    Comment


    • #3
      I think that given your circumstances, a 100% allocation to stocks is entirely reasonable. When you have more money accumulated and less human capital, you might/should/will feel differently.

      If you look at the returns of 90/10 vs. 100, they are not all that different. I would rather see you add Emerging Markets exposure than overload Real Estate, but that is my personal preference

      Comment


      • #4
        I like it.

        You may also consider an allocation to international small caps, via Vanguard VSS. Lower correlation to the rest of your portfolio.

        You could also consider just swapping from total bond to a long term bond index. You wouldn't be sacrificing much in returns and would further add diversification.

        Finally, decide if you are sold on any of the other "newer factors" such as momentum and profitability. These are now theoretically capturable with low cost ETFs and could further diversify your portfolio.

        For a young, sleeps well at night, investor who wanted 90-100% equity, I might do:

        20% VTSAX (VG Total US)
        10%. VTIAX (VG Total International)
        20%. VG or DFA Small Cap Value
        10% VSS (VG International Small)
        20% VG REIT and other crowd sourced real estate
        10% Momentum fund (maybe MTUM)
        10%. VG Long term bond index fund


        Comment


        • #5
          I agree that 100% stocks is ok since you did not panic in 2008 and you are young.  I would keep the reits at 10% and increase the vtiax to 25%.  It has some emerging market in it.  The only kink in the plan would be burnout and quitting the military prior to 20 years.  My father and nephew stayed in for 20 (they were not docs).  They both found civilian jobs and retired nicely.

          Comment


          • #6
            You can afford to be aggressive if you are confident of the pension, but investing the majority of your assets in US stocks at current valuations is not a good idea in my opinion. Most of my equity portfolio is foreign now: https://www.researchaffiliates.com/en_us/asset-allocation.html.

            Also, many investors pay only lip service to the adage that past performance may not predict future performance. We may enter a prolonged period of deflation. That is not my prediction, but that is one of many possibilities that your portfolio should withstand. Most stocks will deliver terrible returns in that scenario (see Japan). That is why I think that any sensible portfolio contains a healthy slug of long-term treasuries (but not so large a position that your overall portfolio would be devastated by runaway inflation).
            Erstwhile Dance Theatre of Dayton performer cum bellhop. Carried (many) bags for a lovely and gracious 59 yo Cyd Charisse. (RIP) Hosted epic company parties after Friday night rehearsals.

            Comment


            • #7
              The OP remained invested in 2008, but if he/she is early 30s PGY1 now, was he/she an early 20s college student in 2008? That was probably a very small portfolio, and many early 20s students feel invincible and virtually immortal.

              The response might be different when he/she is 45 with a large portfolio and a late 40s retirement goal.

              Frog, ask yourself how many young Japanese investors would have proposed a similar plan during the late 1980s, and how many would propose it now?
              Erstwhile Dance Theatre of Dayton performer cum bellhop. Carried (many) bags for a lovely and gracious 59 yo Cyd Charisse. (RIP) Hosted epic company parties after Friday night rehearsals.

              Comment


              • #8


                ...(I remained invested through the 2008 recession), am I crazy for having this aggressive of a portfolio allocation?

                Click to expand...


                A lot of people who think they can handle a 100% equities portfolio don't know their true tolerance for risk, because they've never been through a serious bear market.  You have, and you weathered it well.  So I'd say for now that 100% equities is fine.  But don't forget to re-evaluate things every 5-10 years; you may find that as your age goes up and your portfolio grows in value, big drops that left you unfazed when you were younger and knew you had plenty of time to recover will make you increasingly nervous.

                Comment


                • #9




                  Remember Vanguard Total Stock Market includes REIT’s as a sector now.  Are you taking that into account with your 20% REIT allocation?


                  Good point, I did not consider that. Based on the Bogleheads Wiki, only 1.72% of the Vanguard TSM portfolio is composed of REITs, so for simplicity's sake I probably won't take that too much into consideration.




                  I like it.

                  You may also consider an allocation to international small caps, via Vanguard VSS. Lower correlation to the rest of your portfolio.

                  You could also consider just swapping from total bond to a long term bond index. You wouldn’t be sacrificing much in returns and would further add diversification.

                  Finally, decide if you are sold on any of the other “newer factors” such as momentum and profitability. These are now theoretically capturable with low cost ETFs and could further diversify your portfolio.

                  For a young, sleeps well at night, investor who wanted 90-100% equity, I might do:

                  20% VTSAX (VG Total US)
                  10%. VTIAX (VG Total International)
                  20%. VG or DFA Small Cap Value
                  10% VSS (VG International Small)
                  20% VG REIT and other crowd sourced real estate
                  10% Momentum fund (maybe MTUM)
                  10%. VG Long term bond index fund
                  Click to expand...


                  Thanks for the VSS suggestion. I thought about it but there seems to be something very beautiful to me about the simplicity of only having 4 different funds (adding VSS would make a total of 5 funds). It's a good suggestion and something I'll look into again.

                  I had no idea there were ETFs that focused on momentum. The ER is pretty good too at 0.15. Thanks for the suggestion. I don't know much about momentum investing, but it's something to consider reading about. I can't imagine I would ever allocate more than 5% to something like a momentum fund. I'd probably treat it as "play money."




                  I agree that 100% stocks is ok since you did not panic in 2008 and you are young.  I would keep the reits at 10% and increase the vtiax to 25%.  It has some emerging market in it.  The only kink in the plan would be burnout and quitting the military prior to 20 years.  My father and nephew stayed in for 20 (they were not docs).  They both found civilian jobs and retired nicely.
                  Click to expand...


                  Alas, I already have 14 years of service and have a mandatory obligation to serve 10 years. I will be leaving the military with at least 23 years of service at a minimum. Fortunately (or unfortunately), quitting the military before my pension kicks in isn't an option.




                  The OP remained invested in 2008, but if he/she is early 30s PGY1 now, was he/she an early 20s college student in 2008? That was probably a very small portfolio, and many early 20s students feel invincible and virtually immortal.

                  The response might be different when he/she is 45 with a large portfolio and a late 40s retirement goal.

                  Frog, ask yourself how many young Japanese investors would have proposed a similar plan during the late 1980s, and how many would propose it now?
                  Click to expand...


                  I was an enlisted service member in my mid 20's in 2008 (I enlisted right after high school, I didn't go to undergrad until my mid-to-late 20s).

                  I suppose a Japanese investor that remained solely invested in Japanese domestic stocks over the last stagnant decades would have a poor outlook on 100% equities. My thought process for my proposed allocation was that with continuous dollar-cost averaging (monthly investments), broad diversification (my TISM, REITs, albeit zero bonds), if what happened to the Nikkei happened to the US market, I wouldn't be in as bad a shape as said Japanese investor. I see your point though that a small bond allocation would only make me more diversified.







                  …(I remained invested through the 2008 recession), am I crazy for having this aggressive of a portfolio allocation?
                  Click to expand…


                  A lot of people who think they can handle a 100% equities portfolio don’t know their true tolerance for risk, because they’ve never been through a serious bear market.  You have, and you weathered it well.  So I’d say for now that 100% equities is fine.  But don’t forget to re-evaluate things every 5-10 years; you may find that as your age goes up and your portfolio grows in value, big drops that left you unfazed when you were younger and knew you had plenty of time to recover will make you increasingly nervous.
                  Click to expand...


                  Good point. It's important to note that in 2008 I was single (I now have 3 kids) and my portfolio was not in any way diversified with passive funds as it is now. I think my portfolio in 2008 had about 10 different hand picked stocks that were chosen based on how much I liked the products those companies created. It was very dumb and irresponsible. Aside from low fees, the biggest benefit I've gained from passive index funds is the time I've gained from not looking at my portfolio frequently and the stress of not having to time when to enter/exit a stock position.

                  Comment


                  • #10


                    Current Asset Allocation (90% Equity / 10% Bonds): 45% Vanguard Total Stock Market Index Fund 20% Vanguard Small-Cap Value Index Fund 15% Vanguard Total International Stock Index Fund 10% Vanguard REIT Index Fund 10% Vanguard Total Bond Market Index Fund

                    Proposed Asset Allocation (100% Equity): 40% Vanguard Total Stock Market Index Fund 20% Vanguard Small-Cap Value Index Fund 20% Vanguard Total International Stock Index Fund 20% Vanguard REIT Index Fund
                    Click to expand...


                    I don't think it's unreasonable to forego bonds in your allocation, but also wonder how much you had invested in 2008? I also handed 2008 without panicking. I only had $4000 invested all in stocks, but, boy, did I handle it well.

                    I agree with the recs to not double your REIT contribution to 20%. I would bump TISM up to 30% instead if you want to stick with 4 funds.

                    Comment


                    • #11




                      Hi everyone, I’m looking for some feedback about a portfolio allocation I am thinking of committing myself to. I already have an aggressive asset allocation (90%equity/10%bonds) but I’m thinking of getting rid of my bonds and going 100% equity.

                      Background:
                      I am young (low 30s), a PGY-1 in EM, debt-free with a decade commitment to the military (I already have 14 years of active service). Assuming an average military promotion cycle, I’ll leave the military in my late 40s with an annual pension in the 60-80K range (2017 dollars) with good health benefits.

                      Current Asset Allocation (90% Equity / 10% Bonds):
                      45% Vanguard Total Stock Market Index Fund
                      20% Vanguard Small-Cap Value Index Fund
                      15% Vanguard Total International Stock Index Fund
                      10% Vanguard REIT Index Fund
                      10% Vanguard Total Bond Market Index Fund

                      Proposed Asset Allocation (100% Equity):
                      40% Vanguard Total Stock Market Index Fund
                      20% Vanguard Small-Cap Value Index Fund
                      20% Vanguard Total International Stock Index Fund
                      20% Vanguard REIT Index Fund

                      I have put a lot of thought into my aggressive asset allocation, and while very controversial, I came to the conclusion that because I’m young, will have a decent pension with health benefits that I can live on for the rest of my life (and thus weather volatile markets in retirement age), that I don’t need bonds. To me, the benefit of “smoothing” out the volatility of the stock market with bonds isn’t as important because I’m in my accumulation phase, won’t be touching my portfolio for at least 30 years, and have a generous military pension. I’d rather have the historically increased returns stocks have provided over bonds. I understand that past performance does not guarantee future results, but I think over a long-enough time horizon (30+ years), the probability of bonds outperforming stocks is very low.

                      Assuming I can faithfully stay the course with my 100% stock allocation (I remained invested through the 2008 recession), am I crazy for having this aggressive of a portfolio allocation? I feel that my military pension gives me the room to stay aggressive for at least the next 30 years. I presume when I do come close to tapping into my retirement 30+ years from now, that I would start allocating a percentage of my portfolio to bonds.

                      Any comments are appreciated.
                      Click to expand...


                      Go for it. With your military pension, it sounds like you're investing with money you can afford to lose. I would be aggressive, keeping in mind that a more aggressive portfolio (especially the tilt towards small-cap value) does not guarantee a better return, even in the long-run. It does guarantee more volatility, which you've proven you can handle.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        You are getting a lot of anonymous cheerleading for a 100% stock allocation.  I would encourage you, again, to read some about not going 100% before you decide.  I would look at Graham's, The Intelligent Investor.  He discusses people who could consider it, do you fit?  He also discusses when it would be tactically appropriate, is it now?  I purposefully don't answer these questions for you because they depend on your answer for yourself.  I would also look at Roth's, The Great Depression: A Diary.  I find it useful to purposefully seek out opposite views to mine to help solidify my decisions.  So, not saying you shouldn't go 100%, just that you should actively research reasons not to go 100% and be sure you are okay with them.  Good luck.  Best wishes.  And, thank you for your service to our country!

                        Comment


                        • #13


                          Assuming I can faithfully stay the course with my 100% stock allocation (I remained invested through the 2008 recession), am I crazy for having this aggressive of a portfolio allocation? I feel that my military pension gives me the room to stay aggressive for at least the next 30 years.
                          Click to expand...


                          Things that go in your favor are that you are young, you promise to not tough the stocks for>20 years and have a military pension at the end of 10+ years from now. After 20 years of holding it stocks have outperformed bonds and it you can believe in that you should be OK. You can always earn as a PP physician or hosp employed after you get out from the military and allocate some of that income to a different area, should you wish.

                          I am also 100% invested in stocks though that sector makes up only 30% of my wealth.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            In your situation, 100% equities isn't completely unreasonable.  It seems the basis of your argument is that the pension is a near certainty (which some may debate) thus allowing you to take more risk.  However, you also mention that this pension would be enough for you live off of, though it's not clear if you meant you could cover 100% of you expenses indefinitely with the pension alone, or that the pension would only cover some expenses and/or occasionally all expenses in a down market.  Nevertheless, an alternative investing idea could be the exact opposite of what you propose, minimize your equity exposure, limit your risk and volatility, as you may not need the equity exposure for the "heavy lifting" of your portfolio to meet your number.  Essentially, you've nearly "won" the game, with a high physician income, healthy savings, and low but safe investment return over the next X years, you could just pad your pension and still come out with a healthy retirement income while taking on less risk.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Thanks to everyone for their thoughts and comments. I'm sorry for the late response ... residency life got in the way.





                              Current Asset Allocation (90% Equity / 10% Bonds): 45% Vanguard Total Stock Market Index Fund 20% Vanguard Small-Cap Value Index Fund 15% Vanguard Total International Stock Index Fund 10% Vanguard REIT Index Fund 10% Vanguard Total Bond Market Index Fund



                              Proposed Asset Allocation (100% Equity): 40% Vanguard Total Stock Market Index Fund 20% Vanguard Small-Cap Value Index Fund 20% Vanguard Total International Stock Index Fund 20% Vanguard REIT Index Fund
                              Click to expand…


                              I don’t think it’s unreasonable to forego bonds in your allocation, but also wonder how much you had invested in 2008? I also handed 2008 without panicking. I only had $4000 invested all in stocks, but, boy, did I handle it well.

                              I agree with the recs to not double your REIT contribution to 20%. I would bump TISM up to 30% instead if you want to stick with 4 funds.
                              Click to expand...


                              My portfolio was as high as 100K in 2008 and then dipped to about 30-40K.




                              You are getting a lot of anonymous cheerleading for a 100% stock allocation.  I would encourage you, again, to read some about not going 100% before you decide.  I would look at Graham’s, The Intelligent Investor.  He discusses people who could consider it, do you fit?  He also discusses when it would be tactically appropriate, is it now?  I purposefully don’t answer these questions for you because they depend on your answer for yourself.  I would also look at Roth’s, The Great Depression: A Diary.  I find it useful to purposefully seek out opposite views to mine to help solidify my decisions.  So, not saying you shouldn’t go 100%, just that you should actively research reasons not to go 100% and be sure you are okay with them.  Good luck.  Best wishes.  And, thank you for your service to our country!
                              Click to expand...


                              Thanks for the book suggestions! Graham's book has been on my reading list for a while, I'm hoping to get to it one day. I'll your other suggestion by Dimson and Roth to the list as well.







                              You are getting a lot of anonymous cheerleading for a 100% stock allocation.  I would encourage you, again, to read some about not going 100% before you decide.  I would look at Graham’s, The Intelligent Investor.  He discusses people who could consider it, do you fit?  He also discusses when it would be tactically appropriate, is it now?  I purposefully don’t answer these questions for you because they depend on your answer for yourself.  I would also look at Roth’s, The Great Depression: A Diary.  I find it useful to purposefully seek out opposite views to mine to help solidify my decisions.  So, not saying you shouldn’t go 100%, just that you should actively research reasons not to go 100% and be sure you are okay with them.  Good luck.  Best wishes.  And, thank you for your service to our country!
                              Click to expand…


                              My advice is worth what you pay for it so take it with a grain of salt. The pension theoretically provides you with a backup so you can be more aggressive. However, with a country 20T in debt and growing, I don’t know if I would rely on a pension for security. Just look at the Dallas police pension and that is just the tip of the iceberg. If you really want to go 100% in equities, you won’t lose much by just waiting a year with your current plan to see if it really is for you. Track what a 100% equity position will be over the year and see if the returns are what you want and if you can stomach the volatility (also note the volatility is artifically suppressed right now but probably not for long IMHO). For full disclosure, I have no classic equity position (except for 10% position in a specific industry) even though every piece of investing literature says I should. If the market drops by 60-80% and the CAPE is < 9, at that point I will be nearly 100% equities but until that time happens, I plan to do other things or try to balance the risk/rewards of my equity exposure.

                              And I second Roth’s book. Very insightful and contains important investing advice written by a non-expert. Graham would probably argue 25% equities at this time for an average investor IMHO but then again I wonder if he would be offended by today’s market valuations and recommend something even lower. After all, based on one of his ways to estimate intrinsic value, a non-growth company should have a P/E of ~8.
                              Click to expand...


                              My thoughts on the current military pension system is that it's completely unsustainable into the future (especially since the average human life span is getting so high) if we don't make some changes soon. If that does happen, I would expect the government to grandfather any veterans who have already committed to 20+ years to a military pension. I can't imagine the backlash this country would get if the government nulled all existing military pensions, but I suppose it's a possibility. I see the value in your point of not relying on anyone but yourself though.




                              In your situation, 100% equities isn’t completely unreasonable.  It seems the basis of your argument is that the pension is a near certainty (which some may debate) thus allowing you to take more risk.  However, you also mention that this pension would be enough for you live off of, though it’s not clear if you meant you could cover 100% of you expenses indefinitely with the pension alone, or that the pension would only cover some expenses and/or occasionally all expenses in a down market.  Nevertheless, an alternative investing idea could be the exact opposite of what you propose, minimize your equity exposure, limit your risk and volatility, as you may not need the equity exposure for the “heavy lifting” of your portfolio to meet your number.  Essentially, you’ve nearly “won” the game, with a high physician income, healthy savings, and low but safe investment return over the next X years, you could just pad your pension and still come out with a healthy retirement income while taking on less risk.
                              Click to expand...


                              I'm pretty sure I'll be comfortable living with a 2x-3x resident salary for the rest of my life. I just don't care for that many expensive things, though I guess this could change as I get into my 40s. Most of our money goes to our kids right now, very little money actually goes to anything my wife or I want. The current theme of my IPS right now is to be as aggressive as possible b/c of my pension security in order to create the biggest asset cushion possible so that I have the potential to help my family and other people as I get older in life.

                              Comment

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