Why do you use a mutual fund to deliver Risk Parity?

The alternative to using a mutual fund would be to directly implement the risk parity strategy in your Wealthfront brokerage account. This is not ideal for the following reasons:

  1. It would negatively impact the benefit of Tax-Loss Harvesting. Due to limitations imposed by the wash sale rule, trading of the ETFs that comprise the Risk Parity Fund portfolio would likely limit the frequency of Tax-Loss Harvesting transactions that could be performed on the similar ETFs that comprise the remainder of your diversified portfolio. This would lead to fewer harvested losses that could be applied to lower your taxes.
  2. It would limit your ability to borrow against the value of your account using our Portfolio Line of Credit service. Borrowing money to directly implement risk parity would severely limit the amount of money available to borrow against the rest of your account value due to margin lending restrictions.
  3. It would limit the amount that could be borrowed to implement risk parity. It would not be possible to leverage a separately managed account up to the 3x sometimes required by the strategy given the limitations of Reg T (please see How Does Risk Parity Work? for more details). We believe lowering the leverage applied to implement the risk parity strategy would likely make it not compelling.
  4. It would not be possible to offer to a broad set of clients. Without a very large balance sheet, it would not be possible to borrow enough money in aggregate to serve a broad audience. Using a mutual fund allows us to take advantage of economies of scale in obtaining leverage.

These deficiencies of a separately managed account implementation are addressed by offering risk parity as a mutual fund. 

We offer the Risk Parity Fund (WFRPX) to clients with at least $100,000 in a Wealthfront taxable Investment Account. To learn how we handle accounts below $100,000 with the intent to hold the Risk Parity Fund, see this article

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The Wealthfront Risk Parity Fund (the “Fund”) is managed by Wealthfront Strategies LLC (formerly known as WFAS LLC), a registered investment adviser and a wholly owned subsidiary of Wealthfront Inc. Wealthfront Strategies LLC receives an annual management fee equal to 0.25% of the Fund’s average daily net assets. Northern Lights Distributors, LLC, a member of FINRA and SIPC, serves as the principal distributor for the Fund. Wealthfront Inc., is not affiliated with Northern Lights Distributors, LLC.

Before investing in the Wealthfront Risk Parity Fund, you should carefully consider the Fund's investment objectives, risks, fees and expenses. This and other information can be found in the Fund’s prospectus. Please read the fund prospectus or summary prospectus carefully before investing. There is no guarantee that any investment will achieve its objectives, generate positive returns, or avoid losses.

Investments in the Wealthfront Risk Parity Fund (the “Fund”) involve risk including possible loss of principal. There is no guarantee that any investment will achieve its objectives, generate positive returns, or avoid losses. The Adviser's assessment regarding the risk and correlation of the various asset classes and the Fund's exposure to leverage through the use of derivatives may prove to be incorrect and may not produce the desired results. Financial leverage will magnify, sometimes significantly, the Fund’s exposure to any increase or decrease in prices associated with a particular reference asset resulting in increased volatility in the value of the Fund’s portfolio. While such financial leverage has the potential to produce greater gains, it also may result in greater losses, which in some cases may cause the Fund to liquidate other portfolio investments at a loss to comply with limits on leverage and asset segregation requirements imposed by regulations or to meet redemption requests. The net asset value of the Fund while employing leverage will be more volatile and sensitive to market movements. The Fund’s investments in total return swap agreements also involves the risk that the party with whom the Fund has entered into the total return swap agreements will default on its obligation to pay the Fund. The Fund’s use of derivatives may cause the Fund to realize higher amounts of short-term capital gains than if the Fund had not used such instruments. Overall equity market risk, including volatility, may affect the value of individual instruments in which the Fund invests. In addition, the Adviser relies heavily on models and information and data supplied by third parties (“Models and Data”). Models and Data are used to construct sets of transactions and investments and to provide risk management insights. The Fund may be exposed to additional risks when Models and Data prove to be incorrect or incomplete. The Adviser is also newly established and has not previously managed a mutual fund. The Fund is a new fund and as such has limited performance history. The Fund is not suitable for all investors. The Fund should be utilized only by investors who (a) understand the risks associated with the use of derivatives, (b) are willing to assume a high degree of risk, and (c) intend to actively monitor and manage their investments in the Fund. Investors who do not meet these criteria should not buy the Fund. An investment in the fund is not a complete investment program.