Portfolio design

if you’re using more than just a couple of etfs, how do you choose weightings?

i felt a bit lost when i got as far as the etf weightings screen, and IE’s starting point was to choose equal weight for all of them which is as good a default as any for a user-interface, but wasn’t what i was aiming for.

the problem is slightly compounded if you choose not to use a small number of all-world etfs and instead try and take on the task of juggling countries and/or sectors.

the strategy i’ve come up with is to use an additional tool like justetf (unfortunately paid extra) and its risk/reward scatter plot. the aim is to keep the portfolio average risk moderate and the return in the right ballpark over a given timeframe by underweighting things that are causing a drag and including things that are more bouyant. i suspect this is more art than science since it’s possible to over-fit the model to e.g. recent trends.

what i’ve ended up with is partly good, partly bad. the bad is that i’ve got a large number of funds which is slightly unwieldy – but i’m hoping IE’s built-in support for balancing will make this possible to manage rather than a chore. the good is that i haven’t actually strayed too far from conventional wisdom so what i think i’ve done is built a framework to justify conventional weightings rather than invent anything particularly novel.

the actual mix is mainly the well-known funds representing the major geographies, with a couple of sectors for balance (energy and health) and a bias towards sterling ultrashorts for the fixed income. a small amount of commodities and gold rounds it off. i expect to reduce the ultrashorts and commodities over time but it’s not clear that it’s quite the right time for that.