Stashaway's August 2019 Re-optimisation
StashAway has always talked up their proprietary ERAA asset allocation framework/investment strategy which is supposed to respond to macroeconomic indicators and valuation of asset classes, but we're seeing this first major "re-optimisation" now after over 2 years into their existence, and slightly over 1.5 years since I started dollar cost averaging into an account there.
In the upcoming re-optimisation, ERAA® is deploying asset allocations that maintain portfolios under a “disinflationary growth” regime for US-based assets and shifting to our “All-Weather” strategy for non-US assets.
More specifically, what you’ll see in your updated asset allocation is that ERAA® is allocating more growth-oriented assets toward the US and invest more in protective assets when it comes to non-US markets.
ERAA® is also allocating funds toward European equities, despite weaker economic performance in the Eurozone.
At the same time, StashAway is also adding More Asset Classes and Geographics:
We’ve added commodity-exporting countries, such as Canada and Australia; and, we’ve expanded equity sectors to include healthcare, energy, and finance. We’ve also widened our scope in fixed income, including more bonds, such as international treasury bonds. Finally, we’ve introduced some interesting asset classes, such as Emerging Market bonds, global ex-US REITs, floating-rate bonds, and global ex-US inflation-linked bonds.
I thought it might be useful to record the actual changes, for my "Core 20% Risk Index" portfolio, which claims "1% chance that my portfolio's value will lose more than 20% of its value in any given year".
Interestingly, this geography thing is new, it used to never be tabulated. It's not like it adds up to 100% anyway since there are some non-regional ETFs so it's kind of weird.
|Asset category||Target allocation|
|Equity Sectors (US)||32.18%|
|Asset class||Target allocation|
|Equity Sectors (US)|
|Technology Select Sector SPDR Fund||2.80%|
|Consumer Staples Select Sector SPDR Fund||13.81%|
|Consumer Discretionary Select Sector SPDR Fund||13.77%|
|iShares MSCI All Country Asia ex Japan ETF||12.77%|
|iShares TIPS Bond ETF||14.40%|
|iShares 20+ Year Treasury Bond ETF||8.65%|
|SPDR Bloomberg Barclays Convertible Securities ETF||13.97%|
|SPDR Gold Trust||15.09%|
|Equity Sectors (US)||25.74% - 38.62%||36.00% - 54.00%|
|International Equities||11.08% - 16.62%||10.00% - 15.00%|
|Government Bonds||18.62% - 27.92%||21.20% - 31.80%|
|Corporate Bonds||11.88% - 17.82%||0.00%|
|Commodities||11.88% - 17.82%||12.00% - 18.00%|
|Cash||0.80% - 1.20%||0.80% - 1.20%|
The most obvious difference is that the weights are now presented in +- 20% ranges instead of single numbers, but not for the geography thing for some reason. This is probably the range before they will actively rebalance?
To make the next table easier to parse, I've converted the ranges back to the midpoint of their +- 20% range.
|Equity Sectors (US)||32.18%||45%|
|Consumer Staples Select Sector SPDR Fund||14.35%||0.00%|
|Consumer Discretionary Select Sector SPDR Fund||14.85%||15.00%|
|Technology Select Sector SPDR Fund||2.96%||0.00%|
|iShares Core S&P Small Cap ETF||0.00%||15.00%|
|Health Care Select Sector SPDR Fund||0.00%||15.00%|
|iShares MSCI All Country Asia ex Japan ETF||13.85%||0.00%|
|Vanguard FTSE Europe ETF||0.00%||12.50%|
|iShares 20+ Year Treasury Bond ETF||8.41%||0.00%|
|iShares TIPS Bond ETF||14.85%||11.50%|
|iShares J.P. Morgan USD Emerging Markets Bond ETF||0.00%||15.00%|
|SPDR Bloomberg Barclays Convertible Securities ETF||14.85%||0.00%|
|SPDR Gold Trust||14.85%||15.00%|
That's certainly a move from AAXJ to VGK (FTSE Developed Europe All Cap), from TLT to EMB (USD-denominated EM sovereign debt), out of corp bonds towards different sectors in US equity.
Interestingly, there's a new 22% risk level in the Core portfolios. The change from this 20% level is to decrease the allocation in EM Government Bonds, and move a bit to TIPS bonds and the rest to IVV (S&P 500).
Stay the course, but which course?
There are a ton of assumptions baked into this asset allocation framework -- Modern Portfolio Theory, that market valuations should revert to the mean around economic fundamentals of "growth, inflation, and interest rate expectation", the whole risk-adjusted returns thing...
I still don't really understand it (and it's not like they actually explain what they will do in each of the quadrants of their strategy) so I'm obviously not fully bought into it. This is probably a good reminder to think hard about whether I actually want to bet on these passive-but-still-quite-tactical slices and dices.
If I'm prepared to spend some time and energy managing brokerage accounts and buying ETFs myself, then the real question is whether this tactical thingy is likely to reliably outperform the 0.8% p.a. fee that they're charging.