Seeking Alpha

MyPlanIQ's  Instablog

MyPlanIQ
Send Message
MyPlanIQ.com is the only web application that offers advanced asset allocation strategies customized to a wide range of retirement and taxable investment plans such as 401(k), IRA and brokerage accounts. The unique key advantages of MyPlanIQ.com are 1. Superior investment strategies with high... More
My company:
LTI Systems, Inc.
My blog:
MyPlanIQ News and Articles
  • Shell Muscles its way to good 401K returns but may confuse participants 0 comments
    Jan 21, 2011 7:12 PM | about stocks: MORN, SPY, VTI, EFA, VEU, EEM, VWO, IYR, VNQ, ICF, AGG, BND, HYG, JNK, PHB, AOM, AOK, CIU, BIV, AOR, AOA, GII, PUI, DBU, RYU, UPW, IYH, IXJ, VHT, XBI, PBE, RYH, EFG, IXP, PTE, LTL, IYM, IGE, VAW, XLB, XME, PYZ, CCXE, RTM, UYM, MTK, PTF, RYT, ROM, GWL, IDHQ, IVE, IUSV, JKF, VTV, PWV, RPV, SCHV, SCZ, EFV, PID, DWM, IY
    Of late, we have been reviewing the 401K retirement offerings made available by the biggest and richest oil companies. We have noted that most of them provide only three asset classes and not enough funds.

    We also looked at the Morningstar plan as an effective way of building a plan with a reasonable number of funds and still deliver good returns.

    In this article, we report on their Royal Dutch Shell Tier III 401K plan. This may only be part of the retirement provisions the company provides but it is an interesting and unusual variant.

    Note that MyPlanIQ has no relationship with any company to set up a retirement plan, we are reviewing the plan based on publicly available information.

    The Shell plan muscles in with 303 funds. These funds enable participants to gain exposure to 5 major assets: US Equity, Foreign Equity, REITs, Emerging Market Equity, Fixed Income.
     
    The list of minor asset classes covered:
    Bank Loan:
    Communications: IXP, PTE, DGG, LTL
    Conservative Allocation: AOK
    Consumer Discretionary: RXI, VCR
    Consumer Staples: KXI, VDC, PSL, DPN, RHS
    Convertibles: CWB
    Diversified Emerging Mkts: EEM, GMM, PXH, DEM, SCHE
    Diversified Pacific/asia: EPP, VPL, GMF, PAF
    Emerging Markets Bond: PCY
    Equity Energy: ITE, IXC, IPW, DBE, RYE, DKA
    Equity Precious Metals: DBP
    Europe Stock: IEV, VGK, PEF, DEB
    Financial: IYF, VFH, IPF, PFI, DRF, RYF
    Foreign Large Blend: EFA, VEU, GWL, PFA
    Foreign Large Growth: EFG
    Foreign Large Value: EFV, PID, DWM
    Foreign Small/mid Growth: IFSM, VSS, SCHC
    Foreign Small/mid Value: SCZ
    Global Real Estate: IFGL, RWX
    Health: IYH, IXJ, VHT, XBI, PBE, DBR, RYH
    High Yield Bond: HYG, JNK, PHB
    Industrials: IYJ, EXI, VIS
    Inflation-protected Bond: TIP
    Intermediate Government: IEI, VGIT, ITE
    Intermediate-term Bond: AGG, CIU, BIV, BND
    Japan Stock: EWJ, JPP, PJO, DXJ
    Large Blend: IVV, IYY, IWV, VTI, VV, SPY, DLN, RSP, SCHX
    Large Growth: IVW, IWZ, JKE, VUG, ELG, QQQQ, RPG, SCHG
    Large Value: IVE, IWW, JKF, VTV, ELV, PWV, RPV, SCHV
    Latin America Stock: ILF, GML
    Long Government: TLT, TLH, IEF, EDV, VGLT, TLO, PLW
    Mid-cap Blend: IJH, IWR, JKG, VO, MDY, EMM, PJG, DON, EZM, MVV
    Mid-cap Growth: IJK, IWP, VOT, EMG, PWJ, RFG, UKW
    Mid-cap Value: IJJ, IWS, JKI, VOE, EMV, PWP, RFV, UVU
    Miscellaneous Sector:
    Moderate Allocation: AOM
    Multisector Bond: AGG, GBF, BND, LAG
    Natural Resources: IYM, IGE, VAW, XLB, XME, PYZ, DBN, RTM, UYM
    Pacific/asia Ex-japan Stk: EPP, AAXJ, GMF, PAF, DND
    Real Estate: IYR, ICF, VNQ
    Retirement Income:
    Short Government: SHY, SHV, VGSH, PLK, USY
    Short-term Bond: CSJ, BSV, VCSH
    Small Blend: IJR, IWM, JKJ, VB, DSC, PJM, DES, SAA, UWM, SCHA
    Small Growth: IJT, IWO, JKK, VBK, DSG, PWT, RZG, UKK
    Small Value: IJS, IWN, JKL, VBR, DSV, PWY, RZV, UVT
    Target Date 2000-2010: TZD
    Target Date 2011-2015: TZE
    Target Date 2016-2020: TZG
    Target Date 2021-2025: TZI
    Target Date 2026-2030: TZL
    Target Date 2031-2035: TZO
    Target Date 2036-2040: TZV
    Target Date 2041-2045:
    Target Date 2050+:
    Technology: MTK, PTF, DBT, RYT, ROM
    Ultrashort Bond: BIL
    Utilities: GII, PUI, DBU, RYU, UPW
    World Allocation: AOR, AOA
    World Bond: IGOV, BWX, WIP
    World Stock: IOO, VT
     

    This is an extraordinary number of funds and we will compare the number of funds and the results with the Morningstar plan.

    Asset Class Shell Morningstar
    Balanced Fund 28 1
    REITs 3 1
    Fixed Income 43 6
    Commodity 0 1
    Sector Fund 40 1
    Foreign Equity 31 2
    Emerging Market Equity 8 2
    US Equity 143 11
    Other 7 1
    Total 303 26

     

    As of Jan 20, 2011, this plan investment choice is rated as above average based on MyPlanIQ Plan Rating methodology that was designed to measure how effective a plan's available investment funds are .

    We can further compare the rating of this plan with the Morningstar counterpart.

    Attribute Shell Morningstar
    Diversification Great (98%) Great (96%)
    Fund Quality Average (37%) Average (72%)
    Portfolio Building Great (88%) Great (96%)
    Overall Rating Above Average (76%) Above Average (89%)


    What we note is that the Shell plan wins in diversification by having excellent coverage of the five main asset classes and some of the sub-classes which contribute to better returns. Morningstar is close behind with one more major asset class but less coverage of the secondary styles.

    Morningstar funds are higher quality making it easier to select a strong portfolio which makes it easier to build a portfolio and hence Morningstar comes out on top in the ratings.

    Note that the MPIQ app searches through all of the funds in a plan and so more is better -- but this is not so for those doing this manually and so the overall rating reflects the fact that not everybody may take advantage of new technology such as this.

    We first compare simulated historical results with our benchmark. The chart and table below show the historical performance of moderate model portfolios employing strategic and tactical asset allocation strategies. For comparison purpose, we also include the moderate model portfolios of a typical 5 asset SIB (Simpler Is Better) plan . This SIB plan has the following candidate index funds and their ETFs equivalent:

    US Equity: SPY or VTI
    Foreign Equity: EFA or VEU
    REITs: IYR or VNQ or ICF
    Emerging Market Equity: EEM or VWO
    Fixed Income: AGG or BND
    Performance chart (as of Jan 20, 2011)

    Performance table (as of Jan 20, 2011)

    Currently Commodities, US Equity and Real Estate are doing well. Real Estate and US Equity available to Royal Dutch Shell Tier III 401K participants.

    The plan beats out the SIB based on its rich alternatives although it loses out to the SIB in buy and hold indicating that index ETFs are very effective with their low cost. In any case, the results are good.

    If we now compare the results with the Morningstar plan:

    Performance chart (as of Jan 20, 2011)

    Performance table (as of Jan 20, 2011)


    We see that in the five year time horizon, the performance of the plans are nearly identical -- note that the Sharpe index is higher for the Morningstar plan.

    To summarize, Royal Dutch Shell Tier III 401K participants can achieve good results if they have the tools or patience to sift through the vast number of alternatives.

    This is the first time we have said this but we think that Shell would benefit their participants if they reduced the number of funds and focused on boosting the quality of the funds. Adding commodities would be a nice to have as well.

    This nicely contrasts the brute force and elegant approach to retirement fund planning.

     



    Disclosure: I have no positions in any stocks mentioned, and no plans to initiate any positions within the next 72 hours.
Back To MyPlanIQ's Instablog HomePage »

Instablogs are blogs which are instantly set up and networked within the Seeking Alpha community. Instablog posts are not selected, edited or screened by Seeking Alpha editors, in contrast to contributors' articles.

Comments (0)
Track new comments
Be the first to comment
Full index of posts »
Latest Followers

StockTalks

More »

Latest Comments


Posts by Themes
Instablogs are Seeking Alpha's free blogging platform customized for finance, with instant set up and exposure to millions of readers interested in the financial markets. Publish your own instablog in minutes.