M1 Finance’s Expert Pies are pre-built portfolios in which you can invest for free. This is great for the investor who wants a lazy portfolio for the majority of their investing horizon. Their category of “General Investing” Expert Pies allow you to select a portfolio for broad market exposure based on risk tolerance. These are comprised of low-cost Vanguard ETF’s.
M1 claims that these portfolios are mean-variance optimized (think Modern Portfolio Theory and Harry Markowitz). This ends up making them unnecessarily complicated in my opinion and results in uneven allocations and a heavy weighting to international (ex-US) stocks. More specifically though, I believe these portfolios are suboptimal for the following reasons:
- They incorporate corporate bonds. We know treasury bonds are superior.
- They use small-cap growth stocks, which haven’t paid a risk premium historically.
- Bond duration is skewed too short/low in my opinion for what is supposed to be an “aggressive” portfolio.
- Similarly, bond allocation, at 14%, is still too high in my opinion to be considered “aggressive.”
At the time of writing, M1’s Aggressive Portfolio pie looks like this:
- 29% VEA – Developed Markets
- 26% VOO – S&P 500
- 14% VB – Small-Cap Blend
- 11% VCIT – Intermediate-Term Corporate Bonds
- 6% VWO – Emerging Markets
- 6% VO – Mid-Cap Blend
- 5% VNQ – U.S. REITs
- 3% BNDX – Total International Bond Market
In improving this portfolio, we’re essentially just going to fix the things I mentioned above:
- International stocks inarguably offer a diversification benefit, but their global market weight at about 40% seems too high. I choose to use a 20% allocation to international stocks. We can use VXUS for this.
- In avoiding small- and mid-cap growth stocks, we’ll use their Value counterparts – VBR and VOE.
- We’re going to use treasury bonds and eliminate corporate bonds.
- In making the portfolio truly more “aggressive,” bond holding will be set at 10% instead of 14%, and will utilize long-term treasury bonds with a longer average duration. We’ll use VGLT for this. Since the portfolio has such a small allocation to bonds, we don’t actually need any international bonds.
- We’ll use a slightly higher allocation to REITs – in this case 10% – for the diversification benefit.
My resulting improved Aggressive Portfolio then looks like this:
- 30% VOO
- 20% VXUS
- 20% VOE
- 10% VBR
- 10% VNQ
- 10% VGLT
You can add this pie to your portfolio using this link.
What do you think of this attempt to improve M1’s Aggressive Portfolio? Let me know in the comments.
Disclosure: I am long VOO, VXUS, VOE, VBR, and VNQ.
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 contained in the investing-themed posts on this website is for informational and recreational purposes only. Read my lengthier disclaimer here.