Frank Armstrong’s Ideal Index portfolio – 2017 update


Frank Armstrong III, investment advisor and author, offers the following seven fund “Ideal Indexed” portfolio in his book, The Informed Investor: A Hype-Free Guide to Constructing a Sound Financial Portfolio (published December 16, 2003).

The portfolio employs a 70% equity / 30% fixed income split, consisting of six equity asset class funds and one fixed income fund.

In 2017 the Ideal portfolio produced the following returns:

Year Return
2017 14.58%

The equity slice holds a 31% portfolio allocation to international stocks. The US stock allocation has a value tilt, as the value allocations are larger than the blend and growth allocations. The asset class allocations include:

  • US large blend stocks : 6.25%
  • US large value stocks : 9.25%
  • US small growth stocks: 6.25%
  • US small value stocks : 9.25%
  • US REITS : 8.00%
  • International stocks: 31.00%
  • US short-term bonds: 30.00%

The chart below (click to enlarge) shows the portfolio allocation (rounded values in the pie chart).


Ideal Indexed portfolio

Fund selection

The portfolio can be implemented using the following Vanguard funds.  The portfolio can be implemented with any suitable index fund or exchange-traded fund, but the Vanguard portfolios have longer performance histories.

Fund Ticker Expense ratio
500 Index VFINX 0.14%
Value Index VIVAX 0.18%
Small Growth Index VISGX 0.19%
Small Value Index VISVX 0.19%
REIT Index VGSIX 0.26%
Total International Index VGTSX 0.18%
Short-term Bond Index VBISX 0.15%


The tables below gives returns for the portfolio, using Vanguard investor share index funds. Investors with larger fund balances can use lower cost admiral shares, and exchange-traded funds are available at potentially lower cost. Lower costs add approximately +0.10% to net returns. The returns period includes portfolio performance during the two bear markets in the 2000 – 2010 decade, as well as subsequent recoveries. Keep in mind that past performance does not forecast future performance.

Annual returns


Year Portfolio
2017 14.58%
2016 7.76%
2015 -1.15%
2014 4.70%
2013 15.66%
2012 12.80%
2011 -3.22%
2010 13.35%
2009 23.93%
2008 -26.11%
2007 5.95%
2006 17.84%
2005 8.23%
2004 14.70%
2003 27.25%
2002 -8.14%
2001 -3.23%
2000 2.04%
1999 13.60%

Compound returns

Period Return
3yr CAGR 6.73%
5yr CAGR 8.04%
10yr CAGR 5.25%
15yr CAGR 8.26%

Standard deviation

Period Standard deviation
3yr standard deviation 8.09%
5yr standard deviation 7.14%
10yr standard deviation 14.01%
15yr standard deviation 12.81%

Sharpe Ratio

Period Sharpe Ratio
3yr Sharpe Ratio 0.99
5yr Sharpe Ratio 1.25
10yr Sharpe Ratio 0.40
15yr Sharpe Ratio 0.60

See Frank Armstrong Ideal Indexed portfolio, google drive spreadsheet for performance data.


Barry Barnitz, an administrator of the John C. Bogle Center for Financial Literacy site.

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