My name is Rick Ferri. I’m an hourly-fee investment adviser and the creator of this free website.

I started Core-4® portfolios in 2007 because simple investing is better investing. Owning a few good funds is easier to maintain, has a lower cost, creates greater sustainability, and leads to better returns than complex portfolios holding dozens of securities.

But if that’s true, why do so many industry professionals favor complexity over simplicity?

The answer is fees. Fund companies want you to invest in complex products that have higher expenses, and advisers favor complex portfolios that require ongoing management fees to maintain. Truth be told, there’s no academic evidence that shows complex products or strategies outperform markets. Your only guarantee is higher cost.

Simple investing is a virtue – the ultimate in portfolio sophistication. A few, low-cost, broadly diversified index funds (or exchange-traded funds) held in a portfolio will beat complex strategies almost every time. So, why waste your time and money on complexity? Be simple and be rewarded.

Unfortunately, simple is not easy. Finding a simple elegant solution among the bustle of Wall Street can be daunting. The media bombards us with marketing messages designed to push products. We’re told by advisers that this time in history is different and you need their tactful maneuvering to make it. None of this is true. It’s a marketing ploy designed to separate you from your money.

This free Core-4® website provides the tools you need to hammer down costs and remove complexity. The index funds and ETFs suggested for Core-4 Portfolios™ are widely available through any US brokerage firm and many international firms. Invest in one or invest in more. Use them as-is or add a personal touch. Can’t find anything you like? I can personally help through my hourly fee service at

It’s time to get to the core of an investment strategy that works for you!


The first Core-4 portfolio was introduced on the forum in 2007. This low-cost design offered broad stock, bond, and real estate exposure utilizing only four index funds. The strategy proved to be robust. The performance has been better than most complex strategies at a fraction of the cost.

The Classic Core-4 Portfolio as it is known today has attracted thousands of followers in the US and was recently modified for non-US investors. The strategy has also found wide acceptance among investment bloggers and in the print media.  Public agencies also took notice. The Texas State Securities Board features the Classic Core-4 Portfolio in the Texas Investor Guide, Strategies for Investing Wisely and Avoiding Financial Fraud.

Let’s get started!


No more than four – is the goal. Use the information on this site to build a well-balanced, globally diversified portfolio with only four funds or less if you prefer. Since every investor is different, I created six different Core-4® Portfolios strategies available and 24 different allocations bases on the risk you choose to accept. Use one or more portfolios to fit your needs.

There are over 5,000 mutual funds and 2,000 ETFs available to US investors. How to choose among these funds can be daunting. That’s why each portfolio comes with a suggested list of four representative mutual funds and ETFs. A simple portfolio design using these suggested investments makes the process easy. But perhaps you don’t have access to those funds, such as an employee retirement plan with limited fund options. Use the closest funds you do have available. Most of the time, a close broadly diversified low-fee fund in an asset class will work fine.

Start by selecting a Core-4 Portfolio™ that you like, then choose a risk level for that portfolio to fit your needs. Next, select from a list of suggested low-cost index funds and ETFs or use comparable funds that you have access to. View the past risk and return of that portfolio using Portfolio Visualizer, and if everything checks out, invest in your Core-4 strategy at any custodian.

Hourly advice is available if you wish to have professional Portfolio 2nd Opinion by me, Rick Ferri.

For-profit licensing of Core-4®  is available to advisers, retirement plans, and institutional investors.


I have been helping investors for 30 years as an adviser, researcher, author, speaker, and mentor for advisers. My books include All About Index Funds, All About Asset Allocation, The ETF Book, The Power of Passive Investing, Serious Money, and a forthcoming book,  A Few Good Funds: The Genious of Simple Investing. I co-edited The Bogleheads’ Guide to Retirement Planning and am the host of the Bogleheads on Investing podcast featuring the top movers and shakers in the investment industry.

I introduced the Classic Core-4 Portfolio in 2007 on, the world’s largest not-for-profit on-line forum and investment Wikipedia. There are over 25,000 registered users and over 1 million visits annually. The website is funded in part of the John C. Bogle Center for Financial Literacy, a 503(c)1 organization. I am currently the President of the organization.

The Classic Core-4 allocation consists of a total US stock market index fund, total international stock index fund, US real estate index fund, and a broad market bond index fund. It has served investors well over the years. I have since added several alternative Core-4 Portfolios to meet the growing needs of individual investors as they discover the benefits of Core-4 simplicity, transparency, affordability, and reliability.

The information on this website is free for public use. Core-4® is a registered trademark of Rick Ferri, LLC. Investing involves risk. Neither Core-4 Investing nor Rick Ferri, LLC, guarantees the performance of any fund or portfolio mentioned. From time to time, the owner (me) of may hold positions mentioned on this site.

Portfolio Visualizer is a free online software platform by Silicon Cloud Technologies, LLC, in Austin, TX.  The company specializes in software solutions for investment research and analysis, portfolio management and financial planning to empower investors and investment managers with better quantitative investment analysis tools. Neither Core-4 Investing nor Rick Ferri, LLC guarantees the accuracy of Portfolio Visualizer data.