2018 YEAR IN REVIEW - ROBO-INVESTING
We at Fiscal Frontiers are not investment advisers and our only goal is to report to you on the performance of investments we have made so that you can consider our experience along with all the other information available to make an informed decision on what is best for you. Investing in the stock market is inherently risky and all of a particular investment could be lost.
Fall 2018 saw our robot investments follow the stock markets at large as they fell from the lofty peaks they had all climbed to. Adjusting the accounts to be worth $1,000 on October 25th, when our second account (Questwealth) opened up, the accounts closed on December 31, 2018 valued as follows:
The following table shows the journey that was taken to arrive at those final values:
Note that we have two robo-investing accounts: WealthSimple and Questwealth. The WealthSimple account was opened on September 12th with $1,000 and the Questwealth account was opened on October 25 with $1,000. We have done our best to make the account performance comparable by adjusting the WealthSimple accountto be worth $1,000 on October 25th, so the two can be compared side-by-side.
And the result is that the two accounts performed almost identically. When opening these accounts, we did our best to make our settings as aggressive as possible, answering all the questions in a way that made sure it was known that we were long-term investors aiming for growth and that we were not afraid of incurring short-term losses for the chance at long-term gains.
Before we compare our WealthSimple and Questwealth accounts directly to the ETFs we have chosen to compare them to, we should discuss the stock markets and those ETFs individually.
THE ROLLERCOASTER STOCK MARKETS OF 2018
2018 was an up and down year for the stock markets. Quite literally, things went up and up and up for the first 6-9 months of the year and then things came crashing down. The TSX closed at an all time high on July 12th (16,567.40), the S&P closed at an all time high on September 20th (2,930.75), and the Dow Jones closed at an all time high on October 3rd (26,828.39). Despite the soaring markets, all three of them closed down between 13% to 15% from those all time highs on December 31, 2018.
Lucky for us, we started investing in our robo-investments in September and October, so, we got to see a good sample of how they responded to these up and down markets. And as we expected, they mirrored the markets pretty closely.
We have outlined Our Control Group for this blog, being three Vanguard ETFs. As a quick recap, we are keeping track of:
The Vanguard S&P 500 ETF (VOO): which is designed to track the S&P 500, the most commonly cited benchmark for stock market investors.
The Vanguard Total World Stock ETF (VT): which is designed to track the global stock markets as a whole, with holdings in 8,109 different stocks and 42.1% of the market value being derived from outside North America.
The Vanguard Short-Term Government Bond ETF (VGSH): which is our “risk free” rate of return, obtained by having the fund track the Bloomberg Barclays US Treasury 1–3 Year Bond Index, which includes fixed income securities issued by the US Treasury with maturities between 1 to 3 years.
From September 12th to December 31, 2018, the value of an investment in each of these ETFs looked like this:
(As above, we have adjusted these numbers to reflect $1,000 as of October 25, 2018).
Unsurprisingly, with North American markets tumbling throughout the fall, VOO and VT fell, though it is a little surprising how closely they mirrored one another, moving in almost perfect lockstep. Clearly VGSH, our risk free rate of return, performed very well in this turbulent time, slowly increasing over the roughly three and a half month period.
ROBOTS VS. ETFS
The big question, though, is how our ETFs compared to our robo-investments. The next table compares the two different investments. Note that, if you just want to look at it and get the gist of what happened, then the robo-investments have remained with solid lines and the ETFs are shown again with dashed lines:
And the results show that, at least for the last three and half months of 2018, when the markets were largely falling, our robots tracked the general market tracking ETFs, though they did manage to stay ahead of them at most points in time. Each investment started was worth $1,000 on October 25th, and the value of each of these on December 31st, ranked best to worst, was as follows:
$1,077.93 Vanguard Short-Term Government Bond ETF
$932.21 Vanguard Short-Term Government Bond ETF
$923.43 Vanguard S&P 500 ETF
Throughout the first few weeks of 2019 the markets have begun to rise again, so we are excited to see how these five investments move, and how closely correlated they are over the coming months and years.
If you are interested in investing with Questwealth, than you can use our referral code (baxg1ibj) to get your first month of management free.
We hope to also add more robo-investors over the months and years ahead. If you have a particular robot you think we should be looking at, then let us know in the comments, on Twitter @fiscalfrontiers or via email at email@example.com. Alternatively, if you have an ETF that you think would be a good one to track, then let us know via any of those channels, too.
Next week, we plan on doing a review of our past few months dabbling in crowdfunding and some of the unique investments we are now owners of.