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Weekend reading: In practice, basically right is as good as it gets

Weekend reading

Good reads from around the Web.

I often joke with my co-blogger The Accumulator about the terrible business model of this website.

“Let’s suggest people set up an automatically topped-up and annually rebalanced passive portfolio – and then go outside to do something less boring instead. That’ll be great for growing a readership!”

It’s funny (-ish) because it’s true. People do seem to read us for a while, get up and running, and then bugger off.

It’s fair to say I’ve never been involved with any other venture that gets as much positive feedback as Monevator.

But it’s a bit like being a splendid funeral director – a one-shot win that doesn’t do much for repeat business!

Go away

Secretly, I hope you will stick around, perhaps for our lame gags or maybe for regular vaccinations against the more misleading investing ‘advice’ out there.

But US researcher and blogger Meb Faber betrayed no such weakness this week, when he told his readers:

If you’re a professional money manager, go spend your time on value added activities like estate planning, insurance, tax harvesting, prospecting, general time with your clients or family, or even golf.

If you’re a retail investor, go do anything that makes you happy.

Either way, stop reading my blog and go live your life.


Meb’s mic drop was prompted by an analysis of all the asset allocation models from the leading financial institutions in the US, in terms of how their proposed portfolios would have performed since 1973.

He found that the difference between the most aggressive portfolio and the least amounted to a return differential of just 0.53% a year. Over the long-term, the great mass of them were indistinguishable in return terms.

Meb then pointed out that paying a fee of just 1% a year for such asset allocation advice turned even the best performer into a worse-than-mediocre one:

The difference between the best, worst, and average allocations – and the impact of a fee.

The difference between the best, worst, and average allocations – and the impact of a fee.

From this graph you can see why being average – which is very close to best – is a perfectly good goal, especially as it helps you avoid a poor result.

You can also see how fees drag down returns.

And that there is the entire rationale for pursuing market returns as cheaply as possibly – passive investing, in other words.

On the other hand, you might argue that a graph like this obscures the real money benefits of getting even a mere 0.53% a year extra in returns.

That’s true – it could amount to hundreds of thousands of pounds over a lifetime – and it’s also the entire rationale (and much of the marketing) behind the active investing industry.

But good luck however predicting which of the dozens of barely distinguishable asset allocations will be the single one that delivered the best result in 40 years time…

Same as it ever was

One contrary note I’d make is that Meb’s probably over-selling the similarity of these different suggested portfolios.

After all, they don’t exist in a vacuum. Each bank will have created its model asset allocation from historical returns, and each bank also knows what the bank across the road is selling. So it’s no surprise they’re similar.

Something like the so-called Permanent Portfolio with its 25% allocation to gold would make for a bigger contrast.

Sure enough, Meb himself showed just that in a previous look he took at more diverse asset allocations.

But remember two things.

Firstly, hindsight and survivorship bias both loom large – the lop-sided asset allocations we remember are the ones that worked, not the ones that went nowhere.

Secondly – again – who knows which strongly differentiated allocation will win over the next 40 years?

That unpredictability matters even more when you try to do something very different, because the downside will be greater, too.

Both thoughts will take most people back to wanting to be average instead.

Don’t worry, be happy

To regular readers of this blog, this isn’t really news – it’s just another bit of reinforcement.

We no longer get many readers arguing the toss for an extra 0.75% allocation towards private equity funds or similar in the comments, for example. I think most of us now agree that roughly right is probably as good as it gets in practice.

Do you need to keep reading a blog that tells you to aim high by being roughly right and seeking average?

It’s not an aspirational message. But it’s surely the correct one.

Have a great long weekend!

From the blogs

Making good use of the things that we find…

Passive investing

Active investing

Other articles

Products of the week: Help to Buy ISA rates are very volatile, reports The Telegraph. Santander just cut its rate to 2% – only two months after lifting it to 4%! The Bank is following the lead of Halifax, which just dropped its own rate to 2.5%. Virgin Money and building societies Buckinghamshire and Tipton are still offering 3% though (for now?)

Mainstream media money

Some links are Google search results – in PC/desktop view these enable you to click through to read the piece without being a paid subscriber of that site.1

Passive investing

Active investing

  • REITs in the doldrums ahead of Brexit vote [Search result]FT
  • Best UK income fund doesn’t pay enough to be an income fund – Telegraph
  • Ritholz: Kick the clickbait habit – Bloomberg
  • Hold your nose and buy Europe – Wall Street Journal
  • The hedge funds that couldn’t stay open long enough to profit – Bloomberg

A word from a broker

Other stuff worth reading

  • Struggling to get by on £200,000 a year [Search result]FT
  • How can you outperform your fund’s return? – Morningstar
  • House prices versus earnings close to the pre-crisis peak – Guardian
  • Student loans: The next big mis-selling scandal? – Guardian
  • Buy-to-let investors adopt new strategies – Telegraph
  • Why not live for now AND pursue financial security? – New York Times
  • Housel: Why everyone disagrees about the economy – Motley Fool (US)
  • Is dating worth the effort? – New Yorker

Book of the week: As fears about life under our imminent robot overlords intensify, so wet-brained homo sapiens are competing to outdo each other with Prophecies of Doom. The Age of Em: Work, Love and Life when Robots Rule the Earth is generating some buzz as a balanced – yet fantastical – vision of this potential future. I’ll be reading it this Bank Holiday weekend, and letting my robot vacuum cleaner take the strain.

Like these links? Subscribe to get them every week!

  1. Note some articles can only be accessed through the search results if you’re using PC/desktop view (from mobile/tablet view they bring up the firewall/subscription page). To circumvent, switch your mobile browser to use the desktop view. On Chrome for Android: press the menu button followed by “Request Desktop Site”. []
{ 34 comments… add one }
  • 1 ermine May 28, 2016, 1:43 pm

    Well, I’m still reading after starting in about 2008, you’re good, witty (as far as one can be with PF 😉 ) though I confess I don’t come for the passive articles. But the articles on the tribulations of the long journey like TA’s last piece, and the whole philosophy throw enough fresh meat out there – so thank you for a good ride and keep up the good work! Oh and for stiffening the spine in 2009, it worked for me, even if it was a terrible example of that anathema, market timing/valuation/sheer dumb luck/whatever… Now that I have most of the win I am shifting passive and consolidating, because being retired means I have time for other parts of Life and less for finance. A most satisfied customer indeed, Bravo!

  • 2 CCG May 28, 2016, 2:52 pm

    Well I’m a professional (evidence based) financial planner / wealth manager and I love your blog. You are a force for good ;0

    Investment management is just a commodity, and should be priced accordingly, and (especially) if you are following an evidence based approach you can’t add sufficient value to justify a 1% fee. You can’t for active management either ;0.
    People need the planning more than they need the investment management, and whilst I believe that everyone needs a financial plan, not everyone needs a financial planner. It’s blogs like yours which help guide those who are perfectly capable of doing this themselves. The fact that you lose readers over time is probably more down to the great job you’re doing in filling that education gap than to anything more sinister.
    I choose to read your blog because it’s interesting and amusing, and I will continue doing so.

  • 3 Minikins May 28, 2016, 4:22 pm

    Looks like Monevator is having a quarter life crisis! That’s no bad thing, it’s just a phase. I was out partying last night with a group of people of varying ages, but the mid 20 somethings were quite hard on themselves. On a drinks round they wanted tap water.. They were full of guilt and regret! The rest were all up for fun.

    Maybe Monevator needs the equivalent of marriage and a sproglet or two. A merger, a makeover or a spin-off.

    I love this site for its wit and charm. To be truthful, it does seem to be developing a whiff of the perpetual batchelor, which is charming in itself, but like the notoriously fading monochromatic pad in which he lives, it becomes more difficult to gain entry into unless you’re the cleaning lady or the occasional one night stand.

    I’ve commented before on what I think might work on re-invigorating this site, so I won’t bore you with more ideas like Monevator meet-ups, Monevator wine club, Monevator mantras, Monevator Magazine, Monevator book club, Monevator motivation sessions 😉

    It’s entirely your shot, but if you’re curious, you could always get an online panel of readers together via a live webchat for feedback on the site’s strengths, weaknesses and brainstorm ideas for future direction.

    You could even just focus on one new thing like getting great interviews with people like TEA, Josh Brown, MMM. People would hang around for longer to check out the interviews. You could photoshop their bodies on to the Monevator armchair for the week, that could be their reward! Better to have interesting people park up on the Monevator armchair rather than a pair of slippers and a pipe!

  • 4 Stefan May 28, 2016, 5:12 pm

    Long-time reader and very rare commenter here. It’s ironic that you mention readership lifespan in a “weekly reading” post. By definition, a weekly news roundup offers fresh content so it should aid return readership. It’s why I keep coming back!

    Anyway, keep it up. Your site is the best UK investing resource and I’m willing to pay a subscription for it, should you decide to offer one.

  • 5 Jaygti May 28, 2016, 5:46 pm

    Another satisfied customer here.

    My entire Sipp is passive because of monevator, and the constant reminders keep me on the straight and narrow.

    Also love many of the comments which generally add something extra to all articles.

    On another note , I have 2 small children so Saturday evenings are rarely spent out on the town, so the weekend reading posts has got me through many a dull Saturday that would have been spent watching strictly or BGT.

    So thanks

  • 6 P May 28, 2016, 8:12 pm

    A lot of life is about avoiding mistakes rather than doing anything outstanding.

    The site would still be worthwhile if you did nothing but show the old posts and update the rates of return and best platform tables.

  • 7 The Investor May 28, 2016, 10:32 pm

    @all — Thanks for the sentiments, as ever. Very generous. I was really just responding to Meb’s bold notice to his readers to stop reading him, rather than going through a mid-life / business model crisis (this time!) but it’s still always nice to hear people out there like what we do here.

    That said perhaps I’m a better writer than I thought, given this response from reader @Minikins:

    To be truthful, it does seem to be developing a whiff of the perpetual batchelor, which is charming in itself, but like the notoriously fading monochromatic pad in which he lives, it becomes more difficult to gain entry into unless you’re the cleaning lady or the occasional one night stand.

    Rather too close for comfort. 😉

  • 8 SurreyBoy May 28, 2016, 10:54 pm

    I’ve read this site for a long while, though only posted comments recently. For me its great because it seems to have writing and comments from “real people” who are living lives and trying to get to whatever their version of FI happens to be.

    I guess i associate with the UK perspectives – whereas i dont as much with say MMM or some of the other US centric sites. I read about some of the mistakes, the self doubt, the questions about the journey etc and I think – yep i can go along with all of that.

    It must take a whole heap of time to run the site – and i hope it turns in a few quid for the people putting in the time so people like me can feel part of a community with shared ambitions etc. Keep it going boys.

  • 9 Mathmo May 29, 2016, 12:32 am

    It’s amazing how much more there is to learn about “fire and forget” than you might think at first glance. The first time you screw up. The first time you screw up in a different way. The first time you screw up in yet another different way. The time you’re scared. The time you’re wrong. The time that you wish you’d never started, and the time when you know you’ll never finish.

    I appreciate the weekly updates, as well as the ability to think down to the next level of mistake, and maybe hear about someone else making it before I do for myself. So thanks, TI. Great that you mentioned my favourite Authers article on asset allocation again so I don’t have to. Love that analysis.

    This week, I am absolutely loving the #PrayForNisha comments on the FT article (£200k is not enough). I’m no frugalista, and I find MMM’s hair shirt advocacy a bit of a turn-off, but that article is a right-rollicking read. Budgeting is dull, but surely we can all do better at it. Not really on message for an armchair investor motivation, but I wonder if there’s a good blog that will help with that habit / technology / etc (that I can visit, learn and then never need to return to…).

  • 10 green_as grass May 29, 2016, 5:41 am

    I live in the UK and so many investing blogs or similar websites are US-based. When I need UK-based passive investing information I always, always find myself ending up back at Monevator.

    Surreyboy makes this point as well, saying he identifies with the UK perspectives. Much as I enjoy blogs and writers like MMM or Andrew Hallam (The Millionaire Teacher – excellent Canadian/ex-pat passive investing writer), I always sigh a bit when I see references to 401Ks and Roth IRAs. Yes, the investment principles are the same but the specifics, especially with things like taxes, mean that advice for US and UK investors can be quite different. But more subtly, they can be only slightly different, meaning that US advice is fine but not necessarily the best for UK investors. An example might be allocation of domestic equities. Therefore I like it when Monevator goes deep down into an issue and lays out the best options for UK investors.

    Having said that I also enjoy it when Monevator has an existential crisis and wonders aloud if it is doing the right thing. You don’t get a lot of that in US investment blogs.

  • 11 Hariseldon May 29, 2016, 7:41 am

    Keep up the good work! I identify with the subtleties of asset allocation and the need for “almost right” to be good enough , reassuring to see I am not alone and this leads me to the strength of Monevator, reassuring yet gently we follow more Saturday links and learn a bit more.
    It’s that knowledge that gives confidence to do less and be able to spend more time doing something interesting!!

  • 12 SemiPassive May 29, 2016, 9:17 am

    Just to say I’ve learnt, and gained in insight, far more from this site than from a book I’ve just finished titled ‘How To Own The World’ that you mentioned the other week.
    While it may be enlightening to some, I just can’t see many Monevator readers giving it 5 stars on Amazon and felt a bit cheated at the lack of detail in key areas.
    Intriguing in terms the precious metals/inflation nutter stance though, and food for thought on asset allocation.

  • 13 Malcolm Beaton May 29, 2016, 9:18 am

    Can I add to the general vote of thanks. A long time reader of this board now in 13 th year of retirement but using same Investment Principles except in a deccumulating way!
    Index Funds-three only,diversified and conservatively asset allocated cos I have enough.
    Only difference in deccumulation is having to keep a cash portion for day to day living.
    Now anticipating Brexit,been through Scottish Referendum-ready for Trump
    Steady as she goes attitudes ,practices and advice of this Board and its members helps me a lot
    Saturday’s post is a highlight of the week for me
    I especially like reading the Active Investor posts to remind me constantly why I invest in Index Funds
    Keep up the good work!

  • 14 The Rhino May 29, 2016, 11:08 am

    Interesting to see BTLers targeting <125k properties now. Rule of unintended consequence and all that.

  • 15 Tyro May 29, 2016, 11:55 am

    Let me add my plaudits too. The weekly round-up has become a fixture in my weekend. I find the overall quality is higher and the tone less jarring than a lot of the US stuff, not only from TI and TA and their occasional guest posters but also from the contributors to the comments section – what a great bunch you are. Particular gratitude goes to TI and TA for not thanking each individual commentator “for stopping by”, a tic of some bloggers that makes me want to slap them.

  • 16 Grumpy Old Paul May 29, 2016, 12:27 pm

    A huge thank you for TI and TA for the informative, witty and wise thought-provoking posts over the years which have provided me with a great deal of entertainment and provoked a great deal of soul-searching.

    The breadth of topics covered which extends well beyond the core investment-related subjects is a joy as is the range of opinion of the comments and humility and sense of human frailty evident therein.

    As a rather intolerant old geezer, I find most of the comments worth reading, amusing and giving an insight into other people’s lives and thought processes. There are only a couple of regular commenters who I try to ignore – is there anyway of automatically hiding comments from certain people?

    In respect of this week’s post, does anyone have a view on whether there is any value in splitting one’s portfolio into say 3 pots and following 3 widely diverse asset allocation strategies and rebalancing, say, annually firstly between the 3 pots, then within the pots?

  • 17 Planting Acorns May 29, 2016, 2:03 pm

    I think I’ve been reading since November… As a result I’ve decided how much saving I want to use on mortgage overpayments and how much on an ISA, which platform to use, and which funds (lots of them but all low cost index ones)…crucially it’s all done by DD as “the best discipline is the one you don’t have to enforce (TA)”

    I’ll maybe a textbook example of someone that will “learn and leave” , time will tell, but I’ve got a long way to go…in honesty still need to get head round etfs, annual rebalancing etc…

    …on the other hand… Hopefully I’ll stay ! Best way to keep head during next storm will be surrounded by sensible people 😉

  • 18 green_as grass May 29, 2016, 2:05 pm

    @Grumpy Old Paul

    I too would be interested in knowing people’s views on having different pots with different strategies for each.

    I have 2 pots, one for an anticipated change from full time work to part time work, and one for quitting work completely. I’m a little less gung-ho about going full steam ahead until I hit financial independence and am looking forward instead, with great excitement, to my first goal of changing to part-time employment. Therefore my part-time pot is more defensive and income orientated and my FI pot is more aggressive and accumulative. But I am not really comparing widely diverse asset allocations, just 2 variations in bond/equity splits.

    What I would quite like to see is a backtesting comparison of Monevator’s 9 lazy portfolios from this post:


    There is quite a range of variations between the portfolios and as they are all UK passive portfolios (hurrah!) a backtested comparison would make interesting reading. Maybe it has already been done in a previous post, but if it has I’ve missed it, in which case I apologise.

  • 19 CC May 29, 2016, 3:15 pm

    I’ve been reading for a fair few months. The Weekend Reading is something I always look forward to – it’s a perfect digest of UK-centred articles.

    I’ve also derived so much value from the archive of blog posts here. And I reckon I’ll be saving a hefty amount on fund management fees as a result. Hopefully I’ve paid some small amount of that back by dipping into P2P through your Ratesetter link.

    On the topic of asset allocation, the bulk of my long-term savings are in two places: a Stocks & Shares ISA, and a SIPP. I’d be interested to know how people approach dividing assets between accounts like these: choose one allocation and reflect it in both, or assign certain parts of the allocation to each account?

    For my part, I’m currently aiming for 10% cash, 20% bonds and 70% equities, and as I’ve a while till I could access my SIPP, I’ve decided to put the whole of my bond allocation in my ISA (with equal part equities) whilst my SIPP is 100% equities. The logic being that if disaster strikes and I do need to draw from my ISA unexpectedly, it’s less likely to be in a cyclical trough.

    Anyway, thanks again TI and TA. Keep up the fine work. You really are creating value.

  • 20 old_eyes May 29, 2016, 3:57 pm

    I start my survey of blogs and papers for PF insight every week with Monevator. For me it is consistently the best, both in terms of the original posts and the quality of the discussion.

    In fact if you don’t post early enough on Saturday I have been known to become quite grumpy.

    So thank you for everything your have written and please keep it up.

    And don’t forget that new people will keep finding the blog and need to be gently taken by the hand periodically. One of the best bosses I ever had used to say about change management that “once you have repeated your key messages until you are heartily sick of them and cannot bear to state them again, you have barely begun to communicate”. Many simple and important ideas need to be restated over and over again to catch.


  • 21 Lauraw May 30, 2016, 9:15 pm

    I’ve been reading for a couple of years now, and after getting my head around the basics (from here and by reading the excellent jlcollinsnh’s stock series) I now mainly stop by for the weekend summary as you often find interesting articles or have an interesting take on things. Like others have mentioned I appreciate that it’s not US-centric like almost everyone else.

    One question I was wondering about this week (after reading several articles suggesting that a SWR of 2.5% might be correct for the UK as opposed to the 4% rule which was apparently based on US research) is does this UK analysis make any difference if we’re all investing worldwide? The FTSE is not a huge proportion of my investments. Or is there some currency angle that I don’t get that means the SWR is lower even if your holdings are international?

  • 22 Jon May 31, 2016, 9:18 am

    Hi TI,
    I haven’t commented for a while but I always read your blog. Its the best in the UK and its lonely travelling the FI journey and your blog helps. In addition, it was your article on replacing your salary way back that got me started on this journey.
    Best Wishes,

  • 23 The Accumulator May 31, 2016, 9:52 am

    @ Lauraw – Professor Wade Pfau has conducted research into the impact of globally diversified portfolios on withdrawal rates.

    It can improve the situation but it depends on how your home market performs versus the global market over the time period measured.

    i.e. if your home market was one of the world’s top performers over your retirement period then your results would likely be dragged down by the global market. Similarly, if your home market was a dog then it would be pulled up the rest.

    Pfau found that for most markets, most of the time, the situation improved: http://advisorperspectives.com/newsletters14/pdfs/Does_International_Diversification_Improve_Safe_Withdrawal_Rates.pdf

    For the UK, there was a marginal improvement about 78% of the time.

    You can also see in this piece a marginal improvement for the world portfolio versus the UK:


    What the safe withdrawal rule doesn’t take into account is that it’s perfectly feasible to take evasive action to stop yourself running out of money. For example, by not selling equities in a down period (you’d sell bonds instead) or selling less assets (i.e. cutting your expenses for a time or earning some income on the side).

    Most retirees do not go bust by blindly taking out a set amount every year until they’re broke – behaviour that’s not modelled by safe withdrawal studies.

    @ Tyro – thanks for stopp– [gagh! dies]

  • 24 The Rhino May 31, 2016, 9:57 am

    I think the 9 lazy portfolios is the all-time classic monevator article

    I remember my mind being blown when I 1st read it and desperately bookmarking it in case I couldn’t find it again

    the ‘one number you need to replace’ (your salary) one is also a stand-out, although I always thought it should have been annual expenses, not salary – which thankfully can be a whole lot less

  • 25 Richard May 31, 2016, 10:28 am


    You will read a lot about asset allocation, passive vs active, lump sum vs drip feeding, % of salary to save, and so on.

    But – to me – the most important variable is the average real rate of stockmarket return.

    The question I’m trying to answer is “How much capital do I need so that I can retire on [£20,000] per year, and not [run out of / eat into] capital before I’m [100]?”

    I’m sure most of the people reading this blog have a retirement model of some sort. I do.

    Compounding of the real rate of return over a long period makes a huge difference to the outcome. If you have £100 invested for 40 years, then 2.5% pa real will give you £269 but 4.0% gives you £480. Just a small change in that assumption can significantly change the amount of capital you might need. And as we all know you need a lot of capital to draw down a reasonable sum per year, over a long retirement.

    (I assume a given real rate of return in my models and a real annual withdrawal expressed in £££. Others use a SWR as a %, but I prefer my method…)

    I run various scenarios on my model, but the baseline model is the most prudent. Here I assume three things – a low 2.5% average real return on equities (and 0.5% on cash), that I’ll live to 100 and that I do not want to consume my capital over the long term.

    I use 2.5% real as a prudent return after fees, expenses and my own poor investing judgement. I also factor in pensions (mid-60s) and have the option to model care home fees / sell house.

    I reckon that I can live on less than [£20,000], will probably get more than 2.5% real average return on equities, will probably die before I’m [100] and don’t mind eating into my capital at some point.

    Thus when the numbers work on my very prudent assumptions I’m pretty sure that I can retire. Whether I do or not is another matter but I’ll have reached the point of Financial Independence. The difference between 2.5% and 4.0% is about 5 years.

    So to directly answer your question – I’d base early retirement / FI on 2.5% real to be on the safe side, but hope for more…

  • 26 The Rhino May 31, 2016, 11:53 am

    4% to 2.5% is brutal in terms of the extra capital reqmt

    stick with 4% but retain an income generating side-hustle

  • 27 The Accumulator May 31, 2016, 12:08 pm

    4% is very risky. I’m personally using 3% with the flexibility to continue to make income / reduce expenses / tap into home equity / sell bonds during a downturn

  • 28 The Rhino May 31, 2016, 12:32 pm

    maybe aim to cover 25% of expenses with a hustle

    my old man does this with band gigs, busking and DIY for old dears (all cash in hand too)

    thus you can burn 3% but still have only 4%SWR amount of capital

    FI time cut by a quarter – thats significant

    say expenses run at 20k, you need to make 5k a year – doable

    to be honest 20k is a bit high for one, I reckon 2 can run on 20k no prob. so only 2.5k each to generate.

    I can run a family of four on 25k

  • 29 The Investor May 31, 2016, 4:06 pm

    @lauraw — I asked @TA to cover your question as he’s far more into SWR research than I am as you can see. (I want to live off my portfolio’s natural yield and not sell capital). Thanks for doing do @TA!

    @therhino — I respect your approach as a pragmatic approach to getting out of the 9-5 sooner rather than later, but I think it’s more than a semantic quibble to point out that a plan that’s based on you needing to earn meaningful, if reduced, income for the foreseeable future is not really “financial independence”.

    I don’t plan to ever entirely stop working / earning *something*. But I do aspire to make it optional, and for me that’s the definition of FI. 🙂

  • 30 The Rhino May 31, 2016, 4:45 pm

    yes – thats a fair shout, its not FI, its FILite

    I do think that the part time crowd round here seem to be enjoying themselves a lot though

    worth thinking about

    more than one way to skin a cat as they say..

  • 31 john May 31, 2016, 5:31 pm

    Weighing in on TA: “Most retirees do not go bust by blindly taking out a set amount every year until they’re broke – behaviour that’s not modelled by safe withdrawal studies.”.

    This is an important point. Unless one has no luxury/contingency built into one’s budget, we are bound to reduce spending in bear years, regardless of our plan.

    I’d be happy to reduce my outgoings by 40% if my portfolio fell by this amount so I model my spend as a fixed % of portfolio.

    Of course, this approach a 0% go-broke rate. The target is then to maximize the (utility of) the spend, summed over remaining life.

    The Yale endowment (Swenson’s) uses 80% of the previous year’s spend + 20% of the long-term target rate, applied to the portfolio value 2 years prior. This is explained in one of my favourite portfolio construction documents: http://investments.yale.edu/images/documents/Yale_Endowment_15.pdf

  • 32 magneto May 31, 2016, 7:00 pm

    We discussed retirement income approaches recently in response to the ‘The Greybeard’ article, in which inter-alia Frank Armstrong’s philosophy was mentioned by this investor :-

    Frank has a (new?) on-line book ‘Investment Strategies for the 21st Century’ at ‘Investorsolutions.com’. Below are extracts.

    “I assumed that the investor would re-balance the portfolio so that in good years he would replenish his hoard of short-term bonds, and in bad years he would draw it down. This idea isn’t entirely new. A similar technique was used by Pharaoh about 3,000 years ago with some notable success.”

    “How the Rich Do It. If you are fortunate enough to be very well off, you might consider withdrawing only your stock dividends.”


    Love the bit about the Pharoah!
    Nothing new here it would seem!
    Good years and lean years have been with mankind seemingly forever.

  • 33 FI Warrior June 1, 2016, 4:26 pm

    @TI Your site will always be relevant, for new people who have a ton to catch up and then for the regulars who can always help each other out on the bits they don’t know as well as encouragement in the hard times.

    Then there’s the weekly round up to look forward to in case we missed anything individually; that never gets old, because finance too evolves.

    Finally, events continually happen in finance, following on from politics etc., so it will always be necessary to dissect the latest budget/big event to try and work out how it will affect our little plans to be or remain free. As such, you are needed for sure 🙂

  • 34 Topman June 1, 2016, 6:54 pm

    @TI ” ….. they bugger off.”

    If you are tracking via IP addresses (?), then a new device could be the cause of an apparent leaver.

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