Sunday, February 27, 2022

Two Stock Portfolio - ETF Experiment Continued

In May 2016, I posted about my ETF experiment involving buying VCN (Vanguard FTSE Canada All Cap Index ETF) and VXC (Vanguard FTSE Global All Cap ex Canada Index ETF) for my son's Registered Education Savings Program ("RESP"). Although this was a clear departure from my normal dividend growth investing strategy, the main reason that I pursued the strategy was simplicity. Having added my daughter to the RESP after she was born in July 2017, the two stock portfolio continues to be straight-forward, as shown in the below diagram. 

On a yearly basis, I spend about fifteen minutes on the strategy. The first five minutes relates to re-learning what is a needlessly complicated bill payment I have to use to make the annual contribution through Scotia itrade. A day or two later, after the contribution "magically" appears in the RESP account (sadly, I'm not making that up), I spend another five minutes calculating how much VCN to buy in order to keep the position sizes relatively equal, accounting for future government matches (both federal and to a lesser extent provincial) and upcoming dividends that will be added to the account. The last five minutes are split between buying VCN, and then waiting to see that both government matches hit the account before buying VXC.

Some of the advantages of this two stock RESP include:

- Very simple: Compared to the amount of time I spend on my normal portfolio, 15 minutes a year is awesome!
- Good country diversification: With half the portfolio allocated the Canada, VXC provides me exposure to the U.S., Japan, China, France, Switzerland, Germany, etc. at a very reasonable 0.27% management expense ratio. 
- Minimal cost: Beside VXC's 0.27% management expense ratio, VCN has a management expense ratio of only 6 basis points, and the two buys a year cost me a total of $20 in commissions. 
- Can do it all online: It's only been in the last three years that Scotia itrade hasn't required I send in a physical cheque to fund the annual contribution. 

On the flip side, there are disadvantages to the two stock RESP as well:

- Owning companies you'd rather not: With market capitalization being a dominant factor, there are a handful of companies in VXC I'd rather not own (i.e. Tesla, Facebook, etc.).
- VXC's holdings are not reflective of global market capitalization: VXC is heavily tilted toward the U.S. (60.5% of the ETF's holdings), and ignores some large international companies that are publicly traded (i.e. Saudi Aramco). 
- Scotia itrade's shortcomings: Charging $10 for buying an ETF, seeing your annual contribution disappear for a couple days, waiting an extra day or more to pay out dividends...all the frustrating parts of being a client of itrade continue to impact this RESP strategy.

The longer the two stock RESP experiment runs, the more I continue to love the simplicity of the strategy. I fully plan to stick to the strategy until my daughter turns 16, at which time the federal and provincial governments will no longer partly match the contribution. The only change I envision is potentially moving away from Scotia itrade given the shortcomings outlined above. 

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