AOR is an ETF from iShares that is part of their line of Core Allocation ETFs, which provide a globally diversified, multi-asset portfolio in one single fund. But is AOR a good investment? I review it here.
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AOR ETF – What, How, and Why
AOR is the iShares Core Growth Allocation ETF. It is part of iShares’ line of asset allocation ETFs called Core Allocation Funds that launched in 2008. AOR has a little over $2.3 billion in assets, making it the most popular fund in this family.
These are called “asset allocation ETFs” because they hold a diversified mix of different assets in one single fund based on a set asset allocation, which is a ratio that illustrates the relative weight of each asset type. For AOR, that ratio is 60/40, meaning 60% stocks and 40% bonds, which iShares calls a “growth” allocation. The classic 60/40 portfolio is regarded as a near-perfect balance between risk and expected return.
Whereas a target date fund shifts that asset allocation based on an increasingly conservative glidepath, the allocation of this fund stays static over time.
ETFs are usually a single-asset product, but each fund in this line of Core Allocation ETFs from iShares uses 7 of their own index funds to construct a globally diversified basket of stocks and bonds:
IVV – iShares Core S&P 500 ETF
IDEV – iShares Core MSCI International Developed Markets ETF
IUSB – iShares Core Total USD Bond Market ETF
IEMG – iShares Core MSCI Emerging Markets ETF
IJH – iShares Core S&P Mid-Cap ETF
IAGG – iShares Core International Aggregate Bond ETF
IJR – iShares Core S&P Small-Cap ETF
The relative weights of these assets align with their global market cap weights at any given point in time.
AOR’s current exposure looks like this:
31% U.S. Large Cap Stocks
2% U.S. Mid Cap Stocks
1% U.S. Small Cap Stocks
20% ex-US Developed Markets
7% Emerging Markets
33% Total U.S. Bond Market
6% Total International Bond Market
Exposure like this with one ticker was historically only available with a mutual fund. These Core Allocation Funds provide a well-diversified index portfolio in a single ETF wrapper, all at a relatively low fee of 0.15%. I discussed here that ETFs offer greater flexibility, accessibility, control, and tax efficiency compared to mutual funds. As far as I know, these are the only broad, low-cost asset allocation ETFs available.
This simplicity of a one-fund portfolio can be extremely valuable for the index investor who wants to be completely hands off. You don’t have to worry about choosing investments and you don’t even need to do any rebalancing because the fund does it for you.
These products massively decrease the mental and logistical effort required in portfolio management, and more importantly, mitigate the investor’s own behavioral biases like recency bias, performance chasing, and loss aversion. It is actually well documented that investors who hold balanced allocation funds tend to outperform investors who try to manage everything themselves.
These Core Allocation Funds even have their own proprietary indexes, each for a different target level of risk. For AOR, that’s the S&P Target Risk Growth Index. The index is rebalanced semiannually in April and October.
AOR ETF Performance
Going back to their inception in 2008, here is a performance backtest of AOR compared to its sister funds through 2022:
Notice how AOR has slightly edged out the others on risk-adjusted return as measured by Sharpe ratio for this time period.
Is AOR a Good Investment?
So is AOR a good investment? Maybe.
As usual, that will depend on your personal goal(s), time horizon, and risk tolerance, and specifically whether or not those things align with a 60/40 portfolio of global stocks and bonds. And just because it has outperformed its peers so far on a risk-adjusted basis does not mean it will continue to do so going forward.
Like I noted earlier, AOR and rest of the iShares Core Allocation Funds provide a great single-fund solution for the hands-off global index investor at a relatively low cost. For those reasons, they even get the stamp of approval from staunch Bogleheads even though they aren’t Vanguard products.
Conveniently, these ETFs are also portable if you ever decide to switch brokers, whereas a target date mutual fund might not be. They don’t offer any magical tax efficiency different from their constituent components, but of course we would consider them to be more tax-efficient than a mutual fund, making them potentially attractive for taxable space.
AOR could of course be used as one’s entire portfolio, or it could be held as a core of stocks and bonds alongside other assets like gold.
AOR should be available at any major broker, including M1 Finance, which is the one I’m usually suggesting around here.
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Disclaimer: While I love diving into investing-related data and playing around with backtests, I am in no way a certified expert. I have no formal financial education. I am not a financial advisor, portfolio manager, or accountant. This is not financial advice, investing advice, or tax advice. The information on this website is for informational and recreational purposes only. Investment products discussed (ETFs, mutual funds, etc.) are for illustrative purposes only. It is not a recommendation to buy, sell, or otherwise transact in any of the products mentioned. Do your own due diligence. Past performance does not guarantee future returns. Read my lengthier disclaimer here.