What is the KISS Portfolio Construction Process?

A thoughtful evolution of the 60/40 portfolio framework, the KISS portfolio is a systematic, long-only investment strategy designed for long-term, low-turnover investors.

The KISS portfolio is a 60/30/10 trend-following strategy that aims to simplify investing, minimize downside during bear markets, and maximize upside during bull markets – all with the express intent of demonstrably outperforming the traditional 60/40 portfolio over the long term.

How has the KISS portfolio performed in comparison to the traditional 60/40 portfolio?

Since the start of 2018 when the KISS portfolio’s out-of-sample backtest begins, the KISS portfolio has generated an average annual return of +13%, which compares very favorably to the average annual return of +8% for the 60/40 portfolio.

Moreover, the KISS portfolio has outperformed while also subjecting investors to lower risk. Specifically, the maximum drawdown of -12% for the KISS portfolio compares favorably to the maximum drawdown of -22% – observed on two separate occasions – for the 60/40 portfolio.

Furthermore, the KISS portfolio’s risk-adjusted return, as measured by a Sharpe ratio of 0.8, outpaces the 0.5 Sharpe ratio of the 60/40 portfolio.

Who is the KISS portfolio construction process for?

The KISS portfolio was expressly designed for retail investors and RIAs who are fed up with discretionary investment strategies that have caused them to consistently and demonstrably lag broad market returns.

42 Macro Founder and CEO Darius Dale also uses the KISS Portfolio Construction Process to manage his entire liquid net worth.

What if I’m an institutional investor and/or do not wish to implement the KISS portfolio?

We developed our Discretionary Risk Management Overlay specifically for long-short investors who have chosen not to implement the KISS portfolio — likely because they are institutional investors or because they believe they can outperform KISS with their own discretionary trading process.

You can find more information about the Discretionary Risk Management Overlay below.

What are the allocations of the KISS portfolio?

The maximum exposure to each asset class is 60% equities, 30% fixed income, and 10% Bitcoin.

The actual exposure depends on signals generated by our Global Macro Risk Matrix and Volatility Adjusted Momentum Signals (VAMS).

Specifically, the trend-following strategy employed by the KISS portfolio increases exposure to each asset class when our Global Macro Risk Matrix and VAMS generate incrementally bullish signals in Market Regime terms or for a particular asset class, and decreases exposure when our Global Macro Risk Matrix and VAMS generate incrementally bearish signals in Market Regime terms or for a particular asset class.

The following question details how the exact exposures are calculated.

Which ETFs are chosen for exposure to each asset class?

Our default Equity exposure is SPY, our default Fixed Income exposure is AGG, our default Bitcoin exposure is FBTC, and our default Cash exposure is USFR.

What strategies does the KISS portfolio implement to maximize upside capture and minimize downside capture?

KISS determines exposure via two independent steps.

First, the Target Allocation is determined by the Top-Down Risk Management Overlay, which is driven by our Global Macro Risk Matrix. If the Market Regime is in a risk-on condition (i.e., GOLDILOCKS or REFLATION), then the Target Allocation for the SPY ETF = 60%. If the Market Regime is in a risk-off condition (i.e., INFLATION or DEFLATION), then the Target Allocation for the SPY ETF gets cut in half to 30%. If the Market Regime is in a disinflationary condition (i.e., GOLDILOCKS or DEFLATION), then the Target Allocation for the AGG ETF = 30%. If the Market Regime is in an inflationary condition (i.e., REFLATION or INFLATION), then the Target Allocation for the AGG ETF gets cut in half to 15%. If the Market Regime is in a risk-on condition (i.e., GOLDILOCKS or REFLATION), then the Target Allocation for the FBTC ETF = 10%. If the Market Regime is in a risk-off condition (i.e., INFLATION or DEFLATION), then the Target Allocation for the FBTC ETF gets cut in half to 5%.

The Actual Exposure is determined by the Bottom-Up Risk Management Overlay, which is driven by our Volatility-Adjusted Momentum Signal (VAMS). If our VAMS generates a bullish signal for the ETF, the Actual Exposure equals 100% of the Target Allocation. If our VAMS generates a neutral signal for the ETF, the Actual Exposure equals 50% of the Target Allocation. If our VAMS generates a bearish signal for the ETF, the Actual Exposure equals 0% of the Target Allocation – i.e., no position.

Do you recommend rebalancing your portfolio each time KISS signals a change in Actual Exposure?

Yes. The purpose of KISS is threefold: 1) to help investors block out the noise and remain invested heading into and throughout bull markets; 2) to help investors block out the noise and remain uninvested heading into and throughout bear markets; and 3) to outperform the traditional 60/40 portfolio. KISs can only help investors accomplish these three goals if they dutifully implement each pivot.

Over time either the size of the SPY, AGG, or FBTC positions may grow or decline in size relative to the most recent Actual Exposure publication due to market performance. Thus rebalancing is required at regular intervals to minimize tracking error.

There is no right answer for how best to rebalance because each investor has a different tax situation and bandwidth for investing.

The strategy that 42 Macro Founder and CEO Darius Dale employs is to rebalance his portfolio each time KISS signals a change in the Actual Exposure in one (or more) of the ETFs. Per the out-of-sample backtest referenced above, there has been an average of only three trades per month since Jan-18. That equates to three opportunities to rebalance per month, if market performance deems rebalancing is necessary.

Another strategy would be to rebalance on a calendar-based frequency – i.e., at the end of each week, month, or quarter.

Again, there are no right answers for rebalancing. Investors should explore multiple options and settle on what works best for them.

What if I’m a new member and need to get allocated to a fully invested or near-fully invested KISS from scratch?

It is always best to dollar cost average (DCA) over time when allocating significant amounts of capital to asset markets. Dollar cost averaging provides investors the best opportunity to take advantage of price dislocations in asset markets to lower the cost basis of positions.

Much like rebalancing, there is no right answer for dollar cost averaging, as much depends on the bandwidth a particular investor might have to execute trades.

The strategy that 42 Macro Founder and CEO Darius Dale employs is to buy a maximum of 1,000 basis points (10%) of a particular position each Friday afternoon until the desired exposure is reached. For example, this strategy would build a 60% position in the SPY ETF from a starting point of 0% over a period of six weeks. If the SPY ETF declined considerably on any day prior to Friday, then it is appropriate to pull forward that week’s 1,000bps purchase to that day. No need to wait until Friday in that particular week. He repeats this opportunistic process each week until the position is filled.

What if I want to implement the KISS portfolio, but I prefer other exposures instead of the default SPY, AGG, or FBTC?

Investors may choose different exposures that better align with their strategic investment objectives and risk tolerance. Consult our Discretionary Risk Management Overlay for ideas.

Investors implementing a customized version of the KISS portfolio can execute the Top-Down and Bottom-Up Risk Management Overlays for the ETFs they have selected using the Market Regime observation and VAMS signals published daily in the Discretionary Risk Management Overlay.

The Discretionary Risk Management Overlay does NOT determine the exposures or allocations in the standard KISS portfolio.

The Discretionary Risk Management Overlay should only be used by investors implementing a customized version of the KISS portfolio, or by investors that have elected to not implement KISS.

Investors that choose to implement the standard KISS portfolio need not consult the Discretionary Risk Management Overlay – or any other element of 42 Macro research – for any reason. The Target Allocation and Actual Exposure for the SPY, AGG, FBTC, and USFR ETFs are explicitly communicated in the KISS Portfolio Construction slides.