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Me and My Money

An ETF fan keeps it simple Add to ...

Vicky Vo, 31

Occupation

Retired actuarial associate

The portfolio

Mostly exchange-traded funds: iShares S&P/TSX Capped Composite Index, iShares DEX Universe Bond Index, Vanguard Total Stock Market, iShares S&P 500 Index – CAD Hedged, Vanguard FTSE All-World ex-U.S., and iShares MSCI EAFE Index – CAD Hedged.

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The investor

Vicky Vo graduated with a bachelor degree in actuarial science and became an associate in the Society of Actuaries. “Let’s pretend it is so much cooler than it actually is,” she says.

Relishing the freedom to do whatever she wanted with her time, she retired from the actuarial profession over a year ago. Since then, she has done a lot of travelling to places like Hawaii and Mexico – and started an investment blog at vixmoney.com.

Ms. Vo accumulated a lot of capital thanks to a thrifty nature, saving as much as 70 per cent of her monthly income. She also has a strong work ethic: From the age of 13 to her university graduation, she held two or three part-time jobs at a time (working in her father’s and uncle’s stores, teaching piano, tutoring and actuarial internships).

How she invests

“Exchange-traded funds all the way!” declares Ms. Vo. She once owned a collection of mutual funds but became disenchanted with the annual management fees of 2.5 per cent or more. After doing some reading, she decided to switch to a balanced portfolio of ETFs because they are “essentially like holding mutual funds, but at a fraction of the cost, which results in better returns in the long run.”

“My investment strategy is KISS: Keep It Simple, Silly,” she continues. “I want to be well-diversified at the lowest price possible, carefully watching both MERs and brokerage trading fees.”

Her target allocation is: 30 per cent in Canadian equities, 20 per cent in Canadian bonds, 25 per cent in U.S. equities, and 25 per cent in International equities. The annual management fee for this portfolio is just over 0.2 per cent.

Best move

“Deciding that a balanced portfolio of ETFs was the way to go.”

Worst move

It was “gambling” on ProShares UltraShort Financial ETF. “I had no idea what the logistics were behind an ETF that shorts the financial market.”

Advice

“Aim to be average! I will never have the time, knowledge or resources to compete against the brightest minds in the financial industry.”

Special to The Globe and Mail

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