I’ve long been a fan of portfolio buckets or sleeves, for two reasons. The first reason is that it facilitates good diversification, which I define as diversification by volatility, by asset class, and by strategy. (We happen to like relative strength as one of these primary strategies, but there are several offsetting strategies that might make sense.) A bucket portfolio makes this kind of diversification easy to implement.
The second benefit is largely psychological—but not to be underestimated. Investors with bucket portfolios had better performance in real life during the financial crisis because they didn’t panic. While the lack of panic is a psychological benefit, the performance benefit was very real.
Another champion of bucketed portfolios is Christine Benz at Morningstar. She recently wrote a series of article in which she stress-tested bucketed portfolios, first through the 2007-2012 period (one big bear market) and then through the 2000-2012 period (two bear markets). She describes her methodology for rebalancing and the results.
If you have any interest in portfolio construction for actual living, breathing human beings who are prone to all kinds of cognitive biases and emotional volatility, these articles are mandatory reading. Better yet for fans of portfolio sleeves, the results kept clients afloat. I’ve included the links below. (Some may require a free Morningstar registration to read.)
Article: A Bucket Portfolio Stress Test http://news.morningstar.com/articlenet/article.aspx?id=605387&part=1
Article: We Put the Bucket System Through Additional Stress Tests http://news.morningstar.com/articlenet/article.aspx?id=607086
Article: We Put the Bucket System Through a Longer Stress Test http://news.morningstar.com/articlenet/article.aspx?id=608619