Well now, it probably hasn’t escaped your notice that the markets have been dancing a merry jig since our last check-up  in January. Clap your hands and say, “Yeah!”
Everywhere you turn it’s good news, if you like drawing ‘up’ arrows on your graphs:
- Our US fund has leapt 20% since the start of the year.
- The UK allocation swelled nearly 10% with Europe not far behind.
- Even Japan climbed out of the red to put on 17%. Roll those printing presses.
- The worst news we had to bear is that our Gilt fund could only manage a 0.25% gain over the last quarter. Not bad considering the hysteria  about bond time bombs. Can’t hear any ticking… must be a good sign.
In raw numbers, our little portfolio is up over 17% on purchase, and we’re sitting on a £1,500 cash gain – considerably better than last quarter’s £600.
The Slow and Steady portfolio is Monevator’s model passive investing  portfolio. It was set up at the start of 2011 with £3,000 and an extra £750 is invested every quarter into a diversified set of index funds, heavily tilted towards equities. You can read the origin story  and catch up on all the previous passive portfolio posts here .
It’s impossible not to feel good about the gains even though we know that a rising market is making our next purchases more expensive.
Without doubt, sober-me prefers to buy shares when they’re cheap, but I’m also the kind of chimp who loves a bit of short-term success. I’m sure I’ve been warned about people like me in the behavioural economics books.
Luckily our passive plan is a straitjacket for the senses, or else we’d probably do something daft like sell our gilt funds .
OK, fun time is over. Now we’ve got to re-enter the world of faffdom that is post-RDR  brokers.
Well, it didn’t take long to discover I’d fallen for the cheap perfume of teaser marketing.
TD will be charging 0.35% platform fees on all funds from August. That means they’re knocked into a cocked hat by the best of our broker comparison table .
So what to do now?
I’ve decided to hold off on a wholesale bail from TD.
That’s because further upheaval is nigh. A decision is due shortly on the banning of commission for execution-only brokers.
- If commission is reprieved then any Slow and Steady style portfolio worth under £46,000 would be best off going back to the way things were . That means investing in retail class index funds free from trading fees or platform fees, bought from a platform  like Cavendish Online.
- If commission is axed then everything is chucked up in the air again. Existing commission-troughing brokers will have until some point in 2014 to bedazzle us with new offerings.
Some industry insiders think we’ll enter a confusing twilight world where commission morphs into fund unit rebates rather than straight cash rebates.
Whatever, it seems unlikely that the best broker and portfolio selection I could make now will still be the best in a few months. Rather than continue to chop and change, we’ll assess the situation again at the next Slow and Steady update.
If you must invest straightaway then you can use the broker comparison table and these portfolio calculations  to make a good decision now.
Even if your broker isn’t topping the best-buy tables, you’re better off waiting to see the lie of the land over the next six months than being a broker tart who gets whammy-ed with exit fees on multiple occasions.
All that said, I am going to sell out of the L&G Global Emerging Markets R fund in exchange for the L&G Global Emerging Markets I fund that’s now available with TD Direct.
As our funds are snugly tucked away in an ISA, there aren’t any capital gains tax  issues to worry about, and even if there were, our gain is too tiny to trouble our CGT allowance anyway.
Every quarter we lob an additional £750 into the maw of the market. Our cash is divided between the funds as per their target asset allocations.
We use Larry Swedroe’s 5/25 rule  to trigger rebalancing moves, but all’s quiet this quarter.
Vanguard FTSE U.K. Equity Index Fund – OCF  0.15% (Stamp duty 0.5%)
Fund identifier: GB00B59G4893
New purchase: £112.50
Buy 0.63 units @ 17751p
Target allocation: 15%
Developed World ex UK equities
Split between four funds covering North America, Europe, the developed Pacific and Japan1 .
Target allocation (across the following four funds): 51%
North American equities
Vanguard U.S. Equity Index Fund – OCF 0.2%
Fund identifier: GB00B5B71Q71
New purchase: £187.50
Buy 0.91 units @ 20523p
Target allocation: 25%
European equities excluding UK
Vanguard FTSE Developed Europe ex-UK Equity Index fund – OCF 0.25%
Fund identifier: GB00B5B71H80
New purchase: £90
Buy 0.6 units @ 15074p
Target allocation: 12%
HSBC Japan Index C – OCF 0.23%
Fund identifier: GB00B80QGN87
New purchase: £52.50
Buy 73.75 units @ 71.19p
Target allocation: 7%
Pacific equities excluding Japan
HSBC Pacific Index C – OCF 0.31%
Fund identifier: GB00B80QGT40
New purchase: £52.50
Buy 19.38 units @ 270.9p
Target allocation: 7%
OCF down from 0.36% to 0.31%
Emerging market equities
Legal & General Global Emerging Markets Index Fund R – OCF 1.06%
Fund identifier: GB00B4MBFN60
Legal & General Global Emerging Markets Index Fund I – OCF 0.52%
Fund identifier: GB00B4KBDL25
New purchase: £1080.53
Buy 2144.76 units @ 50.38p
Target allocation: 10%
OCF down from 1.06% to 0.52%
HSBC UK Gilt Index C – OCF 0.17%
Fund identifier: GB00B80QG383
New purchase: £180
Buy 151.13 units @ 119.1p
Target allocation: 24%
OCF down from 0.18% to 0.17%
New investment = £750
Trading cost = £0
Platform fees = £0
Average portfolio OCF = 0.23% down from 0.29%
Finally – if all this seems too much like hard work then you can always buy a diversified portfolio using an all-in-one fund like Vanguard’s LifeStrategy series .
Take it steady,
- You can simplify the portfolio by choosing the do-it-all Vanguard FTSE Developed World Ex-UK Equity index fund instead of the four separates. [↩ ]