Three years after launching in June 2010 a realistic portfolio simulation (which includes trading commissions, actual prices, distributions, foreign exchange fees for converting CAD vs USD) of traditional cap-weighted ETFs pitted against fundamental factor-weighted ETFs, the race continues to be very close.
Neck and neck contest - tiny differences in total portfolio value
2010 Year-end - dead heat: 0.1% difference
2011 August - cap-weight slight lead by 0.6%
2012 March - dead heat, 0.07% difference
2013 August 7 - fundamental slight lead by 0.6%
There isn't a huge divergence in any asset class either, the largest gap being the 10% ($500) advantage of PDN over EFV in the small- to mid-cap developed markets holding.
First ever portfolio rebalancing
For the first time in three years, some of the asset classes finally exceeded the policy limit set at portfolio creation that rebalancing should occur when any asset class strays more than a quarter from its allocation. The strong performance of the US equity market and the weakness of emerging markets and bond market caused a big enough imbalance to exceed the threshold in both portfolios. It was a good time in any case to invest the accumulating cash balances.
Perhaps counter-intuitively to some, the portfolio rebalance policy is obliging sale of recent winners US equities (PRF & PRFZ and VV & VBR) and purchase of losers bonds (XBB and ZRR), emerging markets (PDN and EFV) and commodities (UCI).
Solid performance by both - up about 26% in total over the three years, or 8% per year compounded. That may be the biggest lesson of this exercise - a diversified portfolio works well.
The current market value of holdings in the two portfolios is shown in the spreadsheet at the bottom of this blog page. Between updates like this one, which I do every six months or so, the monthly distributions are not reflected in the portfolio cash holdings so the total portfolio value may be slightly under-stated for both. The spreadsheet is still a pretty good reflection of the current status of the contest since the distributions of the two portfolios are quite similar i.e. the current market price of the ETFs creates most of the difference.
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