Here we’re discussing the Rick Ferri Core 4 Portfolio, looking at its components, historical performance, and the best ETF’s to use for it.
Disclosure: Some of the links on this page are referral links. At no additional cost to you, if you choose to make a purchase or sign up for a service after clicking through those links, I may receive a small commission. This allows me to continue producing high-quality, ad-free content on this site and pays for the occasional cup of coffee. I have first-hand experience with every product or service I recommend, and I recommend them because I genuinely believe they are useful, not because of the commission I get if you decide to purchase through my links. Read more here.
What Is the Rick Ferri Core 4 Portfolio?
As the name suggests, the Core 4 Portfolio was created by financial adviser and author Rick Ferri in 2007. To be clear, he has created several “Core-4” portfolios. Here we’re talking about the “Classic” one. Even within the “Classic” Core 4 Portfolio, Ferri proposes 4 different risk tolerances: low-risk, conservative, moderate, and aggressive, each with a different asset allocation. For the sake of simplicity in this post, I’ll be using the “Moderate” risk tolerance allocation which is 60/40 stocks/bonds.
Rick Ferri is a retired US Marine Corps officer and fighter pilot and former stockbroker. He is now an investing consultant and author. Ferri believes in “decoupling” advice from portfolio management, and supports low-fee index investing. Read more about him here. You can get the second edition of his most popular book All About Asset Allocation here on Amazon.
The “Moderate” allocation of the Classic Core 4 Portfolio looks like this:
- 36% Total US Stock Market
- 6% US REITs
- 18% Total International Stock Market
- 40% Total US Bond Market
Rick Ferri Core 4 Portfolio – Performance Backtest
Going back to 1994, here’s a comparison of the Core 4, a traditional 60/40, and the S&P 500 through 2019:
Recent years have seen the underperformance of ex-US stocks compared to the US, and REITs suffering primarily in the Subprime Mortgage Crisis of 2008. These contributed to the Core 4’s underperformance of both a traditional 60/40 portfolio and the S&P 500 index from 1994 through 2019. It does have a very slightly lower volatility than the 60/40, likely from the small diversification benefit of REITs and ex-US equities, but the traditional 60/40 still had a smaller max drawdown and a higher risk-adjusted return as measured by Sharpe.
We don’t know what the future will hold. I’d still maintain that diversifiers like ex-US equities and a small amount of REITs may be prudent additions to a diversified portfolio. I like that the Core 4 Portfolio is one of the few lazy portfolios that incorporates ex-US stocks.
Rick Ferri Core 4 Portfolio ETF Pie for M1 Finance
M1 Finance is a great choice of broker to implement the Rick Ferri Core 4 Portfolio because it makes regular rebalancing seamless and easy with one click, has zero transaction fees, and incorporates dynamic rebalancing for new deposits. I wrote a comprehensive review of M1 Finance here.
Using entirely low-cost Vanguard funds, we can construct the Core 4 Portfolio pie with the following ETF’s:
- VTI – 36%
- VNQ – 6%
- VXUS – 18%
- BND – 40%
You can add the Core 4 Portfolio pie to your portfolio on M1 Finance by clicking this link and then clicking “Add to Portfolio.”
Disclosures: I am long VTI and VXUS in my own portfolio.
Disclaimer: While I love diving into investing-related data and playing around with backtests, I am in no way a certified expert. I have no formal financial education. I am not a financial advisor, portfolio manager, or accountant. This is not financial advice, investing advice, or tax advice. The information on this website is for informational and recreational purposes only. Investment products discussed (ETFs, mutual funds, etc.) are for illustrative purposes only. It is not a recommendation to buy, sell, or otherwise transact in any of the products mentioned. Do your own due diligence. Past performance does not guarantee future returns. Read my lengthier disclaimer here.