Build Charles Ellis Investment Portfolios With ETFs

What is Charles Ellis’ investment portfolio?

Charles Ellis’ investment portfolio can be built with just 2 ETFs. It is exposed to between 50% – 100% equities and to between 0% – 50% bonds.

Article contents

What is the historical return of Charles Ellis’ portfolios?

Here is the historical return of Charles Ellis’ portfolios.

Portfolio data was last updated on 1st of June 2023, 06:35 ET

NameYear to dateReturn in 202210 year returnCAGR since 1989 (%)Draw DownExpense ratioYield
Charles Ellis Portfolio Under 40 Years Old6.99-
Charles Ellis Portfolio 40 - 50 Years Old6.41-17.527.517.19-37.590.08%2.16
Charles Ellis Portfolio 50 - 60 Years Old5.82-17.036.847.11-32.840.07%2.2
Charles Ellis Portfolio 60 - 70 Years Old4.65-16.055.456.84-23.340.06%2.29
Charles Ellis Portfolio 70 - 80 Years Old4.06-15.564.746.65-18.60.06%2.34
Performance for Charles Ellis’ Portfolios

Here is what the table is showing you

Year to date: This shows what the portfolio has returned this year starting from the first trading day of the year.

10 Year return: This shows the compounded annualized growth rate over a ten-year period. The current year is excluded from calculations.

CAGR since 1989: This shows the compounded annualized growth rate since 1989. The current year is excluded from calculations.

Expense ratio: This shows the cost of holding the portfolio if you were to construct the portfolio using the proposed ETFs.

Yield: This is the expected dividend yield of the portfolio.

Please note that past performance is not a guarantee of future returns.

How do you build Charles Ellis’ portfolios?

Here is how you build the Charles Ellis 40-50 years old portfolio with ETFs:

  • 90% Total World Stocks (VT)
  • 10% Total US Bond Markets (BND)

You can find the rest of Charles Ellis’ portfolios below

How do Charles Ellis’ portfolios compare to the best portfolios?

Below you can see the returns of the best portfolios that we have benchmarked.

NameSee PortfolioYear to dateReturn in 202210 year returnCAGR since 1989 (%)Draw Down
Premium PortfolioPremium-1.07-18.039.4610.8-35.42
Premium PortfolioPremium0.13-11.9811.2510.38-35.26
Premium PortfolioPremium9.69-18.1912.5210.28-37.63
Premium PortfolioPremium-2.2-13.088.2810.2-36.46
Premium PortfolioPremium3.96-18.757.010.19-44.88
Premium PortfolioPremium8.81-19.5112.0810.19-37.0
Premium PortfolioPremium-3.94-13.919.710.16-40.85
Premium PortfolioPremium-2.05-13.228.3110.08-36.35
Premium PortfolioPremium1.4-16.947.599.99-37.91
Premium PortfolioPremium8.04-18.8711.039.84-32.78
The 10 Best Performing Portfolios That We Have Benchmarked

Who is Charles Ellis?

Charles Ellis is a giant in the investment community. He is the epitome of a gentleman.

Charles Ellis was born in 1937 and has had a noteworthy career.

Highlights include:

  • He worked in the Rockerfeller family investment office.
  • He worked in the investment bank of Donaldson, Lufkin & Jenrette.
  • Founded Greenwich Associates in 1972. It is an investment analytics company.
  • Taught investment management at Harvard Business School in 1970 and 1974
  • Charles Ellis taught investment management at the Yale School of Management in 1986.
  • He was a successor as trustee of Yale University’s endowment fund from 1997 to 2008, where he was working alongside David Swensen, who is also a legend.
  • Charles Ellis was the chair of the board of the Institute of Chartered Financial Analysts (CFA). CFA is the most prestigious investing designation you can get.
  • He was a director of the Vanguard Group from 2001 to 2009.
  • Charles Ellis is currently on the advisory boards of Wealthfront and Rebalance.

With over 50 years of investing experience, Charles Ellis knows how to invest.

The investment management business (it should be a profession but is not) is built upon a simple and basic belief: Professional money managers can beat the market. That premise appears to be false.

– Charles D. Ellis

Charles Ellis in a discussion

Charles Ellis as a prolific author.

Charles D. Ellis has written one of the most famous investment books of all time. It is called Winning The Loser’s Game:

Winning the Loser's Game, Seventh Edition: Timeless Strategies for Successful Investing

It is outstanding!

The last half of the book caters more to investment professionals as it goes deep into how to construct an investment policy but that is still in my opinion very interesting!

The book is a continuation of his article “The Loser’s Game” which appeared in the Financial Analyst Journal.

His book Winning The Loser’s Game is part of the canon of investing literature, in my opinion.

How can institutional investors hope to outperform the market… when, in effect, they are the market?” – Charles D. Ellis

Charles Ellis has written 16 books

Together with co-investing giant Burton Malkiel, he authored another fantastic book which is called The Elements of Investing, Easy Lessons for Every Investor.

The Elements of Investing, Easy Lessons for Every Investor

It is practical, relevant, and offers concrete advice on how to navigate the investing landscape.

Charles D. Ellis is a pleasure to listen to as he is always extremely eloquent, highly intelligent, and, as Barry Ritholz said in an interview, “he is the perfect gentleman.”


Description of Charles D. Ellis’ investment portfolios

The investment portfolios of Charles Ellis come from his book The Elements of Investing, Easy Lessons for Every Investor.

In that book, both Burton Malkiel and Charles Ellis offer their recommendation on how to construct a portfolio.

The portfolios of Charles Ellis are no surprise when you are aware of his investing conviction. I know of only one other person with such a strong belief in simplifying your investment strategy, and that is John C. Bogle.

“successful firms do flourish by holding fast to fundamental values: sticking to the right path; taking the long-term view; and insisting always on quality and excellence.”

– Charles D. Ellis

Charles Ellis does not think you can beat the market. It is a loser’s game to think that you can. It is best to diversify as much as you can.

For this reason, his portfolios are constructed using only two asset classes:

  • Total World Market Stocks
  • Total US Bond Market

Charles Ellis’ portfolio recommendation is based on your age. The older you are, the more bonds you should have in your portfolio.

This is the standard approach in investing and is mirrored by many others like John Bogle.


Charles Ellis and the Index Revolution - his newest book

There is one more book that I want to highlight before we turn to asset allocation. It is a relatively new book by Ellis: and it is called The Index Revolution and is from 2016.

It is a fantastic summary of the thinking of Charles Ellis combined with investing wisdom. It is forworded by his long-time friend and collaborator Burton Malkiel.

The Index Revolution: Why Investors Should Join It Now

What is the asset allocation for Charles Ellis’ investment portfolios?

Below you can find the asset allocation for all of Charles Ellis’ portfolios and how to build them using ETFs.

Charles Ellis Portfolio under 40 years Old

  • 100% Total World Stocks (VT)

Charles Ellis Portfolio 40-50 years Old

  • 90% Total World Stocks (VT)
  • 10% Total US Bond Markets (BND)

Charles Ellis Portfolio 50-60 years Old

  • 80% Total World Stocks (VT)
  • 20% Total US Bond Markets (BND)

Charles Ellis Portfolio 60-70 years Old

  • 60% Total World Stocks (VT)
  • 40% Total US Bond Markets (BND)

Charles Ellis Portfolio 70-80 years Old

  • 50% Total World Stocks (VT)
  • 50% Total US Bond Markets (BND)

Make sure you select the right ETFs!

There are a lot of ETFs! It is pretty boring to sift through hundreds and hundreds of ETFs just to find the right one, but it is worth it!

Finding the right and BEST ETF could earn you a lot more money than number two on the list.

We have done the work for you – all for FREE.

We have carefully selected ETFs for each asset class that the portfolios on use. If you want to read more about our selection process and see what we consider the best ETFs please visit our article What Is The Best ETF?

If you are a European investor you need to buy European ETFs (they need to be of the UCITS kind!).

We have listed 47 of the best ETFs in our article What Are The Best ETFs For European Investors? (Here Is 47).

As of 2021 we also track socially responsible investing ESG portfolios. Socially responsible investing (ESG) portfolios prioritize investing that puts an emphasis on environmental, social, and corporate governance issues.

You can find the socially responsible investing ESG ETFs in the same article.

Where can I learn more about Charles Ellis?

Go here for the first interview that Barry Ritholz did with Charles Ellis on his Master in Business podcast from Bloomberg.

Go here for the second interview that Barry Ritholz did with Charles Ellis on his Master in Business podcast from Bloomberg.

The best and most famous book by Charles Ellis is Winning the Loser’s Game, Seventh Edition: Timeless Strategies for Successful Investing, but he has written many more.

If you are looking for portfolios that are just as simple as Charles Ellis’ portfolios you should check out the balanced portfolios and the three-fund portfolios.


Suggestions for your next steps

Finding the right portfolio is hard. Maintaining your portfolio is also daunting.

If you want access to our high-performing portfolios then you want to take a look at the premium portfolios.

This is a paid product that gives you the 20 best-performing portfolios since 1989. The portfolios represent a great opportunity for you to get more money from your investment portfolios. The 20 portfolios are the best among the literally hundreds of other portfolios we have benchmarked since we started.

You stand to gain thousands more dollars EACH YEAR for the price of a few months of Netflix.

If you have already committed to a portfolio then maybe you need help maintaining the portfolio. In this case you will find our rebalance worksheet useful.

Rebalancing your portfolio lowers your risk and may provide higher returns in the long run. It is completely FREE.

You can find the rebalance worksheet in our article Here Is The Most Easy To Use Portfolio Rebalance Tool.

What is the best Total World Stock ETF?

The best world stock ETF is the Vanguard Total World Stock ETF (VT)

What is the best Total US Bond Market ETF?

The best Total US Bond Market ETF is the Vanguard Total US Bond Market ETF (BND).