This past weekend, I was playing with one of my favorite tools, SigFig.com. You add all your brokerage accounts and it gives you an awesome consolidated view. You can read my SigFig review here.
There was one thing that stood out… I only had 7% of my stock portfolio in emerging markets. That may make sense for many people, but as I’ve written about before here, I am a firm believer in being diversified in stocks around the world. As you can see with the image on the right, I have 70% of my portfolio in the United States and another 15% in Europe. That doesn’t leave a lot for the rest of the world.
Remember when BRIC (Brazil, Russia, India, and China) funds were popular a few years ago because those four large countries were expected to grow greatly in economic power in the coming decades? Well my Brazil, Russia, and India exposure seems to add up to %0.8 of my stock portfolio (which is 74% of my total portfolio). I’ve got a little more exposure in China at least.
So what do I do about this? The easy answer is Vanguard’s FTSE Emerging Markets ETF (VWO). If you scroll down from that link you’ll see that the ETF has all four of the BRIC countries in the top 7 holdings. With an expense ratio of 0.20%, I know that my returns aren’t going to get eaten up by Vanguard’s management.
It’s not like VWO’s 6% allocation in Russian equities is going to revolutionize my portfolio. My goal here isn’t to focus my portfolio on those BRIC countries, but to diversify my holdings so that I’m not so dependent on the United States and, to a lesser extent, Europe.
Today’s lesson is simple: check and make sure your asset allocation is what you think it is. It never hurts to revisit it every few months. I thought by buying Vanguard FTSE All-World ex-US ETF (VEU), I had my international exposure well-diversified throughout the world. I was wrong and this is where tools like those from SigFig can be extremely valuable (or you can go with the low-tech method of checking the fund for its diversification).