Bonds component of the Singaporean 3-fund portfolio - ABF Singapore Bond Index Fund

The Singaporean 3-fund portfolio is the Singapore version of the Boglehead 3-fund portfolio which is suitable for US citizens. The Boglehead 3-fund portfolio comprises of three components:

- Vanguard Total Stock ETF (home equity; the name is misleading but it comprises only US stocks)
- Vanguard Total World Stock ETF (global equity)
- Vanguard Total Bond Market ETF (home bond; similarly, this is made up of only US bonds)

The Singaporean 3-fund portfolio will be a replication, and thus be:

- Nikko AM Singapore STI ETF (home equity)
- Vanguard FTSE All-World UCITS ETF (global equity)
- ABF Singapore Bond Index Fund (home bond)

The ABF Singapore Bond Index Fund

The purpose of having a bond component is to give stability to the portfolio. Equity is more volatile, and having a bonds component in a portfolio have been proven to reduce overall risk of the portfolio, whilst giving more or less the same return.

There has been research done up that an 80/20 mix in a portfolio of stocks and bonds with rebalancing outperforms a full equity fund. However, the literature is little on this, and opinions are divided.

What does it comprise of?

The bond component should be made up of short term high-grade bonds. Longer term bonds are subjected to very heavy interest rate risk. 30 year treasuries, for instance, are almost as volatile as the S&P 500. We will need short-term bonds as we want the capital amount to stay more or less the same. In other words, the bonds component is for dividends (protection) than capital appreciation (return). Similarly, high grade bonds are needed in order for low credit risk, hence lower volatility in price.

This excerpt is taken from the website:

Gain access to one of the world’s highest-yielding AAA-rated government bonds with the ABF Singapore Bond Index Fund ("Fund"). The first exchange traded fund ("ETF") bond fund in Singapore, the Fund invests in the constituents of the iBoxx ABF Singapore Bond Index. This index tracks a basket of high-quality bonds issued primarily by the Singapore government and quasi-Singapore government entities.

Although it is not really short term, but the AAA-rated bonds will give a very stable price throughout. I took the following snapshot from the website. Listed below is price stability, one of the benefits of the fund.


These are the holdings in the fund. You can see that they are mainly government bonds. For the full holdings, you can refer here: link.

Dividend and capital appreciation

We are mainly looking for protection, and we achieved it through the preservation of capital. Dividends are given to compensate you for the opportunity cost of your money. I could not find the dividend yield around the website, but I did manage to find their annual report for the year ended 30 Jun 2015. This is a snapshot.

I put in the weightage and the coupon rate into a spreadsheet, and theoretical derived a weighted average coupon rate of 2.81%. On their website, listed as one of the benefits is a theoretical higher rate of return compared to savings deposits. The rate they used was 2.9%, which is around the same as what I got.

Thus, I am inclined to think that the dividend yield will likely be around this figure.

Expense ratio

Expense ratio is stated to be 0.25% of the fund. I would deem it to be low on absolute, but high on relative. The Vanguard Total Bond Market Fund, which tracks US investment grade bonds, has an expense ratio of 0.07%.


To reiterate, holding a bond component in the Singaporean 3-fund portfolio is to give a stability to the portfolio. The price of the bond fund shouldn't change much, and continue to provide a steady stream of dividends even in adverse market conditions.

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