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William Bernstein Portfolios: The Portfolio Giant

This is the article of investment portfolios of William Bernstein. Find out why his portfolios are awesome and how they can help you. We have 32 of them.

This is the article detailing the William Bernstein portfolios. William Bernstein is one of the 3 good guys in investing. He is genuinely one of the giants in investing. In this article, you will find 32 of his portfolios, along with asset allocation and performance.

William Bernstein Portfolios, The Portfolio Giant

Article Contents

Who is William Bernstein?

William Bernstein, a former doctor, investment consultant, and an all-around good guy in the investing world has presented a host of portfolios throughout his career. His book, The Four Pillars of Investing: Lessons for Building a Winning Portfolio, is required reading on investing. His investing philosophy is broad diversification, common sense, and a realistic expectation of future returns. Other books that come highly recommended are Rational Expectations: Asset Allocation for Investing Adults and The Intelligent Asset Allocator: How to Build Your Portfolio to Maximize Returns and Minimize Risk.

William Bernstein is one of the first names you encounter when entering the investing world, especially the personal investing world. But his investing principles apply to institutional investing as well.

His book William Bernstein: The Four Pillars of Investing: Lessons for Building a Winning Portfolio, is one of the best books on investing you can read. It is on our concise list of the very best investing book ever written.

William Bernstein is also one of the very few good guys in investing. He has gone above and beyond in helping the everyday investor to get better returns through a robust investing framework.

william-bernstein-four-pillars-of-investing
Get this on Amazon – The audiobook is especially recommended as the narrator is phenomenal.

What is unique about the William Bernstein portfolios?

The one thing that William Bernstein focuses on in his portfolios is diversification through many asset classes. He is a self-proclaimed asset class junkie

Therefore his portfolios display extensive diversification.

In addition to this, William Bernstein is a 360-degree investor, so he takes into account a lot of factors. For example:

  • Asset location (to minimize taxes)
  • Specific asset class to reduce taxes like muni bonds
  • Your age
  • Your appetite for risk
  • Your employer’s fund offerings if you are investing through a 401K.

All this makes Bernstein shine as a useful guide in all of your investment endeavors.

Finally, he is adamant about facing reality and being very aware of what you can expect in the returns of your portfolios.

William Bernstein’s most famous portfolios are the lazy portfolios. The two are the No-brainer portfolio and the Cowards’ portfolio. You can read more about those specific portfolios in our posts on Lazy Portfolios and 5 Reasons Why A Lazy Portfolio Is Right For You.

If you are interested in learning way more about William Bernstein and his investing philosophy, pick up one or two of his books. Apart from his book Four Pillars I very much recommend the following two:

the-intelligent-asset-allocator

Get it on Amazon – The audiobook has GREAT narration.
rational-expectations-william-bernstein

Performance of the William Bernstein portfolios

Portfolio nameAsset class count1 year return (2019)Year to date10 year returnCAGR since 1989DrawdownRisk LevelExpense ratioYield
William Bernstein's No Brainer Portfolio420.96%0.94%8.34%8.06%-27.62%4 - high risk0.07%1.91%
William Bernstein's Cowards Portfolio916.90%0.51%7.18%8.10%-19.94%2 - low risk0.07%1.98%
William Bernstein's Four Pillars High Risk Portfolio1119.20%0.30%7.17%8.25%-27.41%4 - high risk0.11%2.36%
William Bernstein's Four Pillars Medium Portfolio617.56%0.91%7.58%7.96%-19.66%2 - low risk0.06%1.93%
William Bernstein's Four Pillars Low Risk Portfolio416.14%1.45%6.57%7.30%-15.91%2 - low risk0.05%1.83%
William Bernstein’s Sheltered Sam Portfolio1217.58%0.51%7.35%8.26%-21.03%3 - medium risk0.09%1.83%
William Bernstein Taxable Ted 100% Stocks427.65%1.76%11.33%9.39%-37.86%5 - very high risk0.06%2.22%
William Bernstein Taxable Ted 90/10525.53%1.72%10.60%9.12%-33.83%4 - high risk0.06%2.21%
William Bernstein Taxable Ted 80/20523.41%1.69%9.85%8.83%-29.79%4 - high risk0.06%2.20%
William Bernstein Taxable Ted 70/30521.29%1.65%9.10%8.51%-25.76%3 - medium risk0.06%2.19%
William Bernstein Taxable Ted 60/40519.17%1.62%8.33%8.15%-21.73%2 - low risk0.05%2.19%
William Bernstein Taxable Ted 50/50517.05%1.58%7.55%7.77%-17.70%2 - low risk0.05%2.18%
William Bernstein Taxable Ted 40/60514.93%1.55%6.76%7.36%-13.66%1 - very low risk0.05%2.17%
William Bernstein Taxable Ted 30/70512.82%1.51%5.96%6.92%-9.63%1 - very low risk0.05%2.16%
William Bernstein Taxable Ted 20/80510.70%1.48%5.14%6.46%-5.60%1 - very low risk0.04%2.15%
William Bernstein Taxable Ted 10/9058.58%1.44%4.30%5.97%-1.85%1 - very low risk0.04%2.14%
William Bernstein Taxable Ted 100% Bonds16.46%1.41%3.46%5.46%-2.30%1 - very low risk0.04%2.13%
William Bernstein Sheltered Sam 100% Stocks1025.71%0.70%10.65%9.89%-36.95%5 - very high risk0.12%2.44%
William Bernstein Sheltered Sam 90/101223.82%0.68%9.94%9.56%-33.64%5 - very high risk0.11%2.32%
William Bernstein Sheltered Sam 80/201221.92%0.65%9.21%9.21%-30.34%4 - high risk0.11%2.20%
William Bernstein Sheltered Sam 70/301220.03%0.63%8.47%8.83%-27.03%4 - high risk0.10%2.08%
William Bernstein Sheltered Sam 60/401218.14%0.61%7.73%8.43%-23.73%3 - medium risk0.09%1.96%
William Bernstein Sheltered Sam 50/501216.24%0.58%6.97%8.00%-20.42%3 - medium risk0.09%1.84%
William Bernstein Sheltered Sam 40/601214.35%0.56%6.19%7.55%-17.12%2 - low risk0.08%1.72%
William Bernstein Sheltered Sam 30/701212.45%0.53%5.41%7.08%-13.81%2 - low risk0.07%1.60%
William Bernstein Sheltered Sam 20/801210.56%0.51%4.62%6.59%-10.51%1 - very low risk0.07%1.48%
William Bernstein Sheltered Sam 10/90128.66%0.49%3.81%6.08%-7.20%1 - very low risk0.06%1.36%
William Bernstein Sheltered Sam 100% Bonds26.77%0.46%2.99%5.54%-3.90%1 - very low risk0.05%1.24%
William Bernstein Young Yvonne Portfolio1118.91%0.98%8.00%8.66%-20.11%2 - low risk0.09%2.32%
William Bernstein Charlie Cringe Portfolio416.19%1.47%6.64%7.28%-15.62%2 - low risk0.05%1.83%
William Bernstein Wendy Wonk Portfolio1119.20%0.30%7.17%8.25%-27.41%4 - high risk0.11%2.36%
William Bernstein Between Charlie and Wendy Portfolio617.62%0.93%7.64%7.94%-19.38%2 - low risk0.06%1.93%
The Rip Van Winkle Portfolio William Bernstein Taxable519.94%1.72%8.84%8.16%-23.66%n/a0.11%1.85%
William Bernstein's The Small Investor's Coward's Portfolio (SICEI)824.50%0.26%8.88%8.59%-41.54%n/a0.12%2.61%
William Bernstein's The Academic Coward's Portfolio (ACEI)421.69%-1.57%9.28%8.87%-38.39%n/a0.29%3.03%

Building the portfolio

Below you can see the asset allocations for the portfolio. You can also see if the portfolio has a socially responsible investing (ESG) variant portfolio. You can read more about socially responsible investing (ESG) investment portfolios in this post.
To build the portfolio yourself, go to our best in class ETF page to see which ETF you should choose for a particular asset class. There you can also see which socially responsible investing ESG ETFs you should select.

Asset Allocation of the William Bernstein portfolios

William Bernstein Four Pillars High Risk Portfolio

William Bernstein Cowards Portfolio                 

  • 10.00%  US Large Cap Value         (VTV)
  • 15.00%  US Large Cap      (VV)
  • 10.00%  US Small Cap Value         (VIOV)
  • 5.00%    US Small Cap      (VIOO)
  • 5.00%    REITs     (VNQ)
  • 5.00%    Emerging Markets           (VWO)
  • 5.00%    Pacific Stocks     (VPL)
  • 5.00%    European Stocks               (VGK)
  • 40.00%  Short Term Treasuries       (VGSH)

William Bernstein Four Pillars High-Risk Portfolio                         

  • 10.00%  US Large Cap Value         (VTV)
  • 10.00%  US Large Cap      (VV)
  • 7.50%    US Small Cap Value         (VIOV)
  • 5.00%    US Small Cap      (VIOO)
  • 7.50%    REITs     (VNQ)
  • 7.50%    Emerging Markets           (VWO)
  • 7.50%    Pacific Stocks     (VPL)
  • 10.00%  European Stocks               (VGK)
  • 7.50%    International Large Cap Value     (EFV)
  • 25.00%  Short Term Treasuries       (VGSH)
  • 2.50%    Precious Metals (GLTR)

Highlighted in the above pie chart

William Bernstein Four Pillars Low-Risk Portfolio                          

  • 35.00%  US Total Stock Market   (VTI)
  • 5.00%    REITs     (VNQ)
  • 10.00%  International All-World ex-US     (VEU)
  • 50.00%  Short Term Treasuries       (VGSH)

William Bernstein Four Pillars Medium Portfolio                          

  • 25.00%  US Total Stock Market   (VTI)
  • 10.00%  US Large Cap Value         (VTV)
  • 10.00%  US Small Cap Value         (VIOV)
  • 5.00%    REITs     (VNQ)
  • 10.00%  International All-World ex-US     (VEU)
  • 40.00%  Short Term Treasuries       (VGSH)

William Bernstein No Brainer Portfolio                             

  • 25.00%  US Large Cap      (VV)
  • 25.00%  US Small Cap      (VIOO)
  • 25.00%  International All-World ex-US     (VEU)
  • 25.00%  Short Term Treasuries       (VGSH)

The No-Brainer portfolio is part of the group of Lazy Portfolios.

William Bernstein Sheltered Sam Portfolio                      

  • 15.00%  US Large Cap Value         (VTV)
  • 12.00%  US Large Cap      (VV)
  • 9.00%    US Small Cap Value         (VIOV)
  • 3.00%    US Small Cap      (VIOO)
  • 6.00%    REITs     (VNQ)
  • 3.00%    Emerging Markets           (VWO)
  • 3.00%    Pacific Stocks     (VPL)
  • 3.00%    European Stocks               (VGK)
  • 4.20%    International Large Cap Value     (EFV)
  • 24.00%  Short Term Treasuries       (VGSH)
  • 1.80%    Precious Metals (GLTR)
  • 16.00%  TIPS       (VTIP)

William Bernstein Sheltered Sam 100% Stocks                  

  • 25.00%  US Large Cap Value         (VTV)
  • 20.00%  US Large Cap      (VV)
  • 15.00%  US Small Cap Value         (VIOV)
  • 5.00%    US Small Cap      (VIOO)
  • 10.00%  REITs (Real Estate)           (VNQ)
  • 5.00%    Emerging Markets           (VWO)
  • 5.00%    Pacific Stocks     (VPL)
  • 5.00%    European Stocks               (VGK)
  • 7.00%    International Lg Cap Value           (EFV)
  • 3.00%    Precious Metals (GLTR)

William Bernstein Sheltered Sam 90/10                

  • 22.50%  US Large Cap Value         (VTV)
  • 18.00%  US Large Cap      (VV)
  • 13.50%  US Small Cap Value         (VIOV)
  • 4.50%    US Small Cap      (VIOO)
  • 9.00%    REITs (Real Estate)           (VNQ)
  • 4.50%    Emerging Markets           (VWO)
  • 4.50%    Pacific Stocks     (VPL)
  • 4.50%    European Stocks               (VGK)
  • 6.30%    International Lg Cap Value           (EFV)
  • 2.70%    Precious Metals (GLTR)
  • 6.00%    Short-Term Investment-Grade   (VCSH)
  • 4.00%    TIPS       (VTIP)

William Bernstein Sheltered Sam 80/20

  • 20.00%  US Large Cap Value         (VTV)
  • 16.00%  US Large Cap      (VV)
  • 12.00%  US Small Cap Value         (VIOV)
  • 4.00%    US Small Cap      (VIOO)
  • 8.00%    REITs (Real Estate)           (VNQ)
  • 4.00%    Emerging Markets           (VWO)
  • 4.00%    Pacific Stocks     (VPL)
  • 4.00%    European Stocks               (VGK)
  • 5.60%    International Lg Cap Value           (EFV)
  • 2.40%    Precious Metals (GLTR)
  • 12.00%  Short-Term Investment-Grade   (VCSH)
  • 8.00%    TIPS       (VTIP)

William Bernstein Sheltered Sam 70/30                

  • 17.50%  US Large Cap Value         (VTV)
  • 14.00%  US Large Cap      (VV)
  • 10.50%  US Small Cap Value         (VIOV)
  • 3.50%    US Small Cap      (VIOO)
  • 7.00%    REITs (Real Estate)           (VNQ)
  • 3.50%    Emerging Markets           (VWO)
  • 3.50%    Pacific Stocks     (VPL)
  • 3.50%    European Stocks               (VGK)
  • 4.90%    International Lg Cap Value           (EFV)
  • 2.10%    Precious Metals (GLTR)
  • 18.00%  Short-Term Investment-Grade   (VCSH)
  • 12.00%  TIPS       (VTIP)

William Bernstein Sheltered Sam 60/40                

  • 15.00%  US Large Cap Value         (VTV)
  • 12.00%  US Large Cap      (VV)
  • 9.00%    US Small Cap Value         (VIOV)
  • 3.00%    US Small Cap      (VIOO)
  • 6.00%    REITs (Real Estate)           (VNQ)
  • 3.00%    Emerging Markets           (VWO)
  • 3.00%    Pacific Stocks     (VPL)
  • 3.00%    European Stocks               (VGK)
  • 4.20%    International Lg Cap Value           (EFV)
  • 1.80%    Precious Metals (GLTR)
  • 24.00%  Short-Term Investment-Grade   (VCSH)
  • 16.00%  TIPS       (VTIP)

William Bernstein Sheltered Sam 50/50                

  • 12.50%  US Large Cap Value         (VTV)
  • 10.00%  US Large Cap      (VV)
  • 7.50%    US Small Cap Value         (VIOV)
  • 2.50%    US Small Cap      (VIOO)
  • 5.00%    REITs (Real Estate)           (VNQ)
  • 2.50%    Emerging Markets           (VWO)
  • 2.50%    Pacific Stocks     (VPL)
  • 2.50%    European Stocks               (VGK)
  • 3.50%    International Lg Cap Value           (EFV)
  • 1.50%    Precious Metals (GLTR)
  • 30.00%  Short-Term Investment-Grade   (VCSH)
  • 20.00%  TIPS       (VTIP)

William Bernstein Sheltered Sam 40/60                

  • 10.00%  US Large Cap Value         (VTV)
  • 8.00%    US Large Cap      (VV)
  • 6.00%    US Small Cap Value         (VIOV)
  • 2.00%    US Small Cap      (VIOO)
  • 4.00%    REITs (Real Estate)           (VNQ)
  • 2.00%    Emerging Markets           (VWO)
  • 2.00%    Pacific Stocks     (VPL)
  • 2.00%    European Stocks               (VGK)
  • 2.80%    International Lg Cap Value           (EFV)
  • 1.20%    Precious Metals (GLTR)
  • 36.00%  Short-Term Investment-Grade   (VCSH)
  • 24.00%  TIPS       (VTIP)

William Bernstein Sheltered Sam 30/70                

  • 7.50%    US Large Cap Value         (VTV)
  • 6.00%    US Large Cap      (VV)
  • 4.50%    US Small Cap Value         (VIOV)
  • 1.50%    US Small Cap      (VIOO)
  • 3.00%    REITs (Real Estate)           (VNQ)
  • 1.50%    Emerging Markets           (VWO)
  • 1.50%    Pacific Stocks     (VPL)
  • 1.50%    European Stocks               (VGK)
  • 2.10%    International Lg Cap Value           (EFV)
  • 0.90%    Precious Metals (GLTR)
  • 42.00%  Short-Term Investment-Grade   (VCSH)
  • 28.00%  TIPS       (VTIP)

William Bernstein Sheltered Sam 20/80                

  • 5.00%    US Large Cap Value         (VTV)
  • 4.00%    US Large Cap      (VV)
  • 3.00%    US Small Cap Value         (VIOV)
  • 1.00%    US Small Cap      (VIOO)
  • 2.00%    REITs (Real Estate)           (VNQ)
  • 1.00%    Emerging Markets           (VWO)
  • 1.00%    Pacific Stocks     (VPL)
  • 1.00%    European Stocks               (VGK)
  • 1.40%    International Lg Cap Value           (EFV)
  • 0.60%    Precious Metals (GLTR)
  • 48.00%  Short-Term Investment-Grade   (VCSH)
  • 32.00%  TIPS       (VTIP)

William Bernstein Sheltered Sam 10/90                

  • 2.50%    US Large Cap Value         (VTV)
  • 2.00%    US Large Cap      (VV)
  • 1.50%    US Small Cap Value         (VIOV)
  • 0.50%    US Small Cap      (VIOO)
  • 1.00%    REITs (Real Estate)           (VNQ)
  • 0.50%    Emerging Markets           (VWO)
  • 0.50%    Pacific Stocks     (VPL)
  • 0.50%    European Stocks               (VGK)
  • 0.70%    International Lg Cap Value           (EFV)
  • 0.30%    Precious Metals (GLTR)
  • 54.00%  Short-Term Investment-Grade   (VCSH)
  • 36.00%  TIPS       (VTIP)

William Bernstein Sheltered Sam 100% Bonds                  

  • 60.00%  Short-Term Investment-Grade   (VCSH)
  • 40.00%  TIPS       (VTIP)

William Bernstein Young Yvonne Portfolio                         

  • 15.00%  US Large Cap Value         (VTV)
  • 12.00%  US Large Cap      (VV)
  • 9.00%    US Small Cap Value         (VIOV)
  • 3.00%    US Small Cap      (VIOO)
  • 6.00%    REITs (Real Estate)           (VNQ)
  • 3.00%    Emerging Markets           (VWO)
  • 3.00%    Pacific Stocks     (VPL)
  • 3.00%    European Stocks               (VGK)
  • 4.20%    International Lg Cap Value           (EFV)
  • 40.00%  Total US Bond Market    (BND)
  • 1.80%    Precious Metals (GLTR)

William Bernstein Charlie Cringe Portfolio                          

  • 35.00%  US Total Stock Market   (VTI)
  • 5.00%    REITs (Real Estate)           (VNQ)
  • 10.00%  Int. Developed Blend      (VEA)
  • 50.00%  Short Term Treasury       (VGSH)

William Bernstein Wendy Wonk Portfolio                          

  • 10.00%  US Large Cap Value         (VTV)
  • 10.00%  US Large Cap      (VV)
  • 7.50%    US Small Cap Value         (VIOV)
  • 5.00%    US Small Cap      (VIOO)
  • 7.50%    REITs (Real Estate)           (VNQ)
  • 7.50%    Emerging Markets           (VWO)
  • 7.50%    Pacific Stocks     (VPL)
  • 10.00%  European Stocks               (VGK)
  • 7.50%    International Lg Cap Value           (EFV)
  • 25.00%  Short Term Treasury       (VGSH)
  • 2.50%    Precious Metals (GLTR)

William Bernstein Between Charlie and Wendy Portfolio                            

  • 25.00%  US Total Stock Market   (VTI)
  • 10.00%  US Large Cap Value         (VTV)
  • 10.00%  US Small Cap Value         (VIOV)
  • 5.00%    REITs (Real Estate)           (VNQ)
  • 10.00%  Int. Developed Blend      (VEA)
  • 40.00%  Short Term Treasury       (VGSH)

How we select the right ETFs

There are a lot of ETFs out there. Most of them can be discarded because:

  • They are too expensive
  • They hold too few assets and are therefore too illiquid
  • They do not meet the criteria for representing the asset class they are supposed to mirror.

We have carefully selected an ETF for each asset class that the portfolios on portfolioeinstein.com 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?

As of 2020 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.

Resources for William Bernstein

His website The Efficient Frontier details he many books and a few other resources

His many books on Amazon. He has written on other topics other than investing. His book A Splendid Exchange is a fantastic inquiry on how trade enabled the modern world.

He has appeared on many financial and investing podcasts, use this search to find them all.

He is one of only three good guys in investing.

Suggestions for your next steps

Finding the correct portfolio is hard. Maintaining your portfolio is also daunting. If you are still in doubt about which portfolio to choose, we suggest you read our article How To Invest Money: 5 Simple Steps That Work For Anyone

If you have already committed to a portfolio – good for you! If you need help maintaining the portfolio you will find our rebalance worksheet useful. Rebalancing your portfolio lowers your risk and may even provide higher returns in the long run.

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

Conclusion

Which portfolio do you use?

After having read up on the William Bernstein portfolios, I encourage you to find other great portfolios right here on portfolioeinstein.com.

If you have suggestions for new portfolios, be sure to add them in comments or reach out to me.

I would love to hear from you!

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