The simplest solution is usually the best.  But if that’s true, why do investment strategies tend to gravitate toward the complex rather than the elegant?

The simple answer is that complexity is good for Wall Street profits. Brokers, advisers, and fund companies earn more money from complex strategies than simple ones. We’re told complex strategies lead to superior returns, yet there is no evidence to support that assertion. There is only a higher cost, and high cost lowers performance.

Simple investing is a virtue – the ultimate in portfolio sophistication. A few low-cost, broadly diversified index funds or exchange-traded funds (ETFs) in a low-touch portfolio has outperformed in the past and will continue in the future. Leave complexity behind.

Unfortunately, simple is not easy. Finding an elegant solution among the bustle of Wall Street can be daunting. The media bombards us with marketing designed to push high-cost products. We’re told by advisers that investing today is difficult and requires tactful maneuvering by those with skill and experience. None of this is true. It’s this complexity that separates us from our money.

Core-4® Investing provides you the tools to hammer down cost and remove complexity. All the index funds and ETFs suggested for Core-4 Portfolios™ have low fees and are available through well-known investment companies. Best of all,  Core-4 Portfolios™ are free. Invest in them as-is or add a personal touch. Can’t find anything you like? Have a Core-4® Custom Portfolio designed for your unique needs.

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


Rick Ferri, CFA, introduced the first Core-4 portfolio on the Bogleheads.org 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 our company motto. The free information offered on this site will help you build a well-balanced, globally diversified portfolio with four funds – or less if you prefer. Since every investor is different, there are six Core-4 Portfolios strategies available and 24 different allocations. Use one or more portfolios to fit your needs and tastes.

First, select a Core-4 Portfolio™ that you like best. Second, choose a risk level for that portfolio to fit your needs. Third, choose from a list of suggested funds or use comparable funds that you have access to. Fourth, view the past risk and return of your portfolio using Portfolio Visualizer, and fifth, invest your Core-4 strategy!

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 in an employee retirement plan with limited options. Use the closest investments you do have access to. Most of the time a close broadly diversified low-fee fund in an asset class will work fine.

Custom Portfolios are available by Rick Ferri. Licencing of Core-4 portfolios is available to advisers, retirement plans and institutional investors.


Rick Ferri, CFA created the Core-4 concept. He has been helping investors for 30 years as an adviser, researcher, author, speaker and mentor for advisers. Rick’s books include All About Index Funds, All About Asset Allocation, The ETF Book, The Power of Passive Investing, Serious Money, and forthcoming book, The Education of an Index Investor. He also co-edited The Bogleheads’ Guide to Retirement Planning and is the host of the Bogleheads on Investing podcast featuring the top movers and shakers in the investment industry.

The Classic Core-4 Portfolio was published in 2007 on Bogleheads.org, 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.

The Classic Core-4 allocation consisted 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. Rick Ferri has since created 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 of Core-4.com 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 with the goal to empower investors and investment managers with better quantitative investment analysis tools. Neither Core-4 Investing nor Rick Ferri, LLC guarantee the accuracy of Portfolio Visualizer data.