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To identify mean-variance efficient portfolios we solve the following quadratic programming problem: Solving this problem for different values of the target volatility, s, gives us a collection of portfolios that maximize expected return for each level of risk, and have weights that sum to one. A portfolio that is fully invested and does not use leverage and, satisfy the lower- and upper-bound constraints on the weights. These constraints ensure that resulting portfolio are long-only (i.e. Weights are positive) and are not overly concentrated in a small number of asset classes. Clients are recommended a portfolio based on the results of a risk questionnaire, which evaluates their ability and willingness to take risk. Capital Market Assumptions mean-variance optimization (MVO) requires, as inputs, estimates of each asset classs expected return, volatility (standard deviation and the pairwise correlations between assets classes. Mvo is sensitive to input parameters and tends to produce concentrated and unintuitive portfolios if the parameters are naively specified. To overcome the difficulty of applying mvo in practice, fischer Black and Robert Litterman proposed the Black-litterman model while working at Goldman Sachs (Black litterman, 1992).

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We pay careful attention to this trade-off. Liquidity: we choose etfs that are expected to have sufficient liquidity to allow purchases and sales at any time. Newly issued etfs usually take a writing while before they are appropriate for recommendation, even if they offer lower fees because the lack of liquidity may cause trading costs that more than offset their lower fees. Securities lending: etf issuers generate income from lending out their underlying securities to hedge funds to enable short essay sales; the more prevalent the lending, the higher the risk to the etf buyer. We prefer etfs that either minimize lending or share the lending revenue with their investors to lower management fees. Allocating Assets wealthfront determines the optimal mix of our chosen asset classes by using mean-Variance Optimization (Markowitz, 1952 the foundation of Modern Portfolio theory. The output of the optimization is a collection of portfolios that generate the maximum return at each level of targeted risk, or equivalently, minimize the level of risk for a specific expected return. Collectively these portfolios form the (mean-variance) efficient frontier. Mean-Variance Optimization The expected return of the portfolio is a weighted average of the expected returns of the individual asset classes, μ, with the weights given by the portfolio allocations,. The variance of the portfolio depends on the variances of the individual assets classes, but also on how they comove with one another, collectively captured by the asset class covariance matrix,.

Wealthfront essay periodically reviews the entire population of etfs to identify the most appropriate ones for use in portfolio construction. We look for etfs that minimize cost and tracking error, offer ample market liquidity, and minimize the lending of their underlying securities. Fee: All things being equal we attempt to choose the etfs with the lowest expense ratios. Unfortunately all things are not equal so we have to trade off fee for the other three characteristics. Tracking error: Most investors are surprised to learn that etfs do not exactly track the indices they were created to mimic. The higher the variance from its selected benchmark (tracking error the less appropriate an etf is to represent its asset class. An etf issuer can reduce its tracking error by improving its operational systems, but that adds expense which is typically passed on as a higher management fee to the investor. In other words, expense and tracking error are often inversely correlated.

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As a result, index funds and more specifically passive index etfs have exploded over the past 10 years. More than 1,500 etfs have been created and in aggregate, etfs have accumulated assets of more than.5 trillion ( ici 2017 Fact book ). Simultaneously, flows out of active mutual funds have accelerated dramatically. Table 1 illustrates the average asset-weighted expense ratios of active mutual funds, and wealthfront etfs. Aggregate industry statistics for actively managed mutual funds are from Exhibit 2 of Morningstar (2017), and are as of the end of 2016. Data for wealthfront reflect the expense ratios of the target asset allocations for taxable and retirement accounts weighted by assignment the amount of client assets in each target allocation. The table illustrates the annual savings available simply from avoiding actively managed mutual funds. Put differently, a young investor who invests using active mutual funds would lose 20 of her investment to fund expense ratios over a 30 year investment horizon, almost seven times as much as if they had invested through wealthfront.

Risk parity is a dynamic asset allocation strategy, which aims to deliver a superior after fee risk-adjusted return in a broad range of market environments, The strategy targets a fixed level of volatility by adjusting the amount of leverage applied to a portfolio in which. The strategy was pioneered by Bridgewater Associates and has historically outperformed traditional stock/bond portfolios with comparable risk. The asset classes we employ may evolve over time depending on the quality of etfs that represent them. Once we decide on our asset classes, our next step is to select the investment vehicles. Selecting Investment Vehicles wealthfront uses low cost, index-based Exchange Traded Funds (ETFs) to represent each asset class other than Risk parity. In contrast, many financial advisors have historically recommended actively managed mutual funds. A significant amount of research has been published that shows active mutual funds not only underperform the market (Bogle, 2009; Malkiel, 2012 but those that outperform in one period are unlikely to outperform in subsequent periods (i.e. Their returns are due to luck). In fact, the semi-annual review of active funds published by s p dow Jones Indices published in mid-2017 ( spiva us scorecard indicates that between 80-99 of active funds have underperformed their benchmarks over the last 15 years.

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Municipal Bonds are debt issued. State and local governments. Unlike most other bonds, municipal Bonds interest is exempt from federal income taxes. They provide individual investors in high tax brackets a tax efficient way to obtain income, low historical volatility and diversification. Treasury resume Inflation-Protected Securities (tips) are inflation-indexed bonds issued by the. Unlike nominal bonds, tips principal and coupons are adjusted periodically based on the consumer Price Index (CPI). Although tips currently have historically low yields, their inflation-indexed feature and low historical volatility makes them the only asset class that can provide income generation and inflation protection to risk averse investors.

Real Estate is accessed through publicly traded. Real estate investment trusts (reits) that own commercial properties, apartment complexes and retail space. They pay out their rents as dividends to investors. Reits provide income, inflation protection and diversification benefits. Natural Resources reflect the prices of energy (e.g., natural gas and crude oil). Natural Resources provide inflation protection and diversification. Investing in Natural Resources via exchange-traded products is also relatively tax efficient due to the favorable tax treatment points on long-term capital gains and stock dividends.

Corporate bonds are debt issued. Corporations with investment-grade credit ratings to fund business activities. They offer higher yields than. Government Bonds due to higher credit risk, illiquidity and callability. In contrast to the.

Companies have gone through a deleveraging process and strengthened their balance sheets over the last few years. Emerging Market Bonds are debt issued by governments and quasi-government organizations from emerging market countries. They offer higher yields than developed market bonds. Emerging Market Bonds had serial defaults in the 1980s, 1990s and even 2000s. However, the world has changed. Emerging market countries, with younger demographics, stronger economic growth, healthier balance sheets and lower debt-to-gdp ratios, have less risk than most investors realize with respect to borrowing money.

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Dividend Growth Stocks represent an ownership share. Companies that have increased their dividend payout each year for the last ten or more consecutive years. They tend to be large-cap well-run companies in less cyclical industries and thus are less volatile than stocks more generally. Many companies in this asset class have higher dividend yields presentation than their corporate bond yields and the yields. Government Bonds remote are debt issued by the. Federal government and agencies to fund various spending programs. Government Bonds provide steady income, low historical volatility and low correlation with stocks. S.government Bonds currently offer historically low yields and are expected to produce relatively low real returns due to the low interest rate policy currently administered by the federal Reserve.

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Economy was hit hard in the financial Crisis and its pace of growth in the future is expected to slow compared summary with its historical growth rate, the. Economy is still one of the most resilient and active in the world, powered as it is by a remarkable innovation engine. Foreign developed Market Stocks represent an ownership share in companies headquartered in developed economies like europe, australia and Japan. Although the economies of Europe and Japan have experienced many struggles in the last two decades, foreign developed Markets represent a significant part of the world economy. Emerging Market Stocks represent an ownership share in foreign companies in developing economies such as Brazil, China, india, south Africa and taiwan. Compared with developed countries, developing countries have younger demographics, expanding middle classes and faster economic growth. They account for half of world gdp and that portion is likely to increase as the Emerging Markets develop. Emerging Market Stocks are more volatile, but we expect them to deliver higher returns than. Stocks and Foreign developed Markets Stocks for the long term.

tax treatment (relative to the way ordinary income is taxed) on long-term capital gains and stock dividends. Bonds and bond-like securities are the most important income-producing asset classes. Although bonds have lower return expectations, they provide a cushion for stock-heavy portfolios during economic turbulence due to their low volatility and low correlation with stocks. Most bonds are tax inefficient because bond interest income is taxed at ordinary income tax rates, except tax-exempt Municipal Bonds. Assets that protect investors from inflation in both moderate and high inflation environments include Treasury Inflation-Protected Securities (tips real Estate and Natural Resources. Their prices tend to be highly correlated with inflation. Based on a thorough analysis, our investment team currently considers the following asset classes:. Stocks represent an ownership share. Has the largest economy and stock market in the world.

Select the most appropriate etfs to represent each asset class. Apply modern, portfolio, theory to construct asset allocations that maximize the expected net-of-fee, after tax real return for each level of portfolio risk, determine your risk tolerance to select the allocation that is most appropriate for you. Monitor and periodically rebalance your portfolio taking advantage of dividend reinvestment, sophisticated investment management services were previously available only to wealthy investors through financial advisors. Typically, those advisors charge average annual management fees of 1, and many have account minimums of at least 1 million. By implementing a completely software-based solution, informed by decades of academic research, wealthfront is able to deliver its automated investment management service at much lower cost than traditional investment management services. Finding Asset Classes, research consistently has found the best way to maximize returns across every level of risk is to combine asset classes rather than individual securities (Markowitz, 1952; Sharpe, 1964; Brinson, hood beebower, 1986; Brinson, singer beebower, 1991; Ibbotson kaplan, 2000). Therefore the first step in our methodology is to identify a broad set of diversified publicly accessible asset classes to serve as the building blocks for our portfolios. We consider each asset classs long-term historical behavior in different economic scenarios, risk-return relationship conceptualized in asset pricing theories, and expected behavior based on long-term secular trends and the macroeconomic environment. We also evaluate daddy each asset classs volatility, correlation with the other asset classes, inflation protection, cost to implement via etf and tax efficiency.

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Wealthfront aims to deliver an automated investment management service that maximizes the long-term, net-of-fee, after-tax, real investment return for each clients particular tolerance for risk. Optimal portfolios are identified using Modern. Portfolio, theory (MPT) and combine a broad set of asset classes, each usually represented by a low-cost, passive etf. Modern, portfolio, theory is the most widely accepted framework for managing diversified portfolios. The economists who developed mpt, harry markowitz and William Sharpe, received the nobel Prize in Economics in 1990 for their groundbreaking research. While mpt has its limitations, especially in the area of very low probability significant downside scenarios, we and our advisors believe it is the best framework on which to build a compelling investment management service. We continuously monitor and periodically rebalance portfolios to ensure they remain optimally diversified. We also attempt to minimize your taxes by analyzing the taxes likely to be generated by each asset class, and creating allocations that are specifically customized for taxable and non-taxable (retirement) shredder portfolios. Our investment methodology employs five steps: Identify a diverse set of asset classes.

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