VRIF Review (2024): Vanguard Retirement Income ETF Portfolio

Do you need a steady and predictable income when you retire?

If you’re looking for a passively managed portfolio Exchange-Traded Fund (ETF) for your retirement income, the VRIF ETF Portfolio might be an ideal solution for you.

VRIF is part of Vanguard Canada’s popular asset-allocation portfolio series.

Let’s take a closer look at this Vanguard VRIF ETF review to help you see if it’s right for you!

Our Verdict
Vanguard VRIF ETF

Vanguard VRIF ETF

All-In-One ETF

Vanguard VRIF is a well-balanced and globally diversified retirement income ETF portfolio for Canadian retirees.

  • Low-cost ETF.
  • No need to rebalance.
  • Simple to use.
  • International exposure.
  • Easy to purchase and sell.
  • A new ETF with not much of a track record yet

What is Vanguard VRIF ETF?

The Vanguard Retirement Income ETF portfolio is the latest all-in-one ETF portfolio launched by Vanguard. It launched for trading on the TSX on September 9, 2020.

It is a globally diversified ETF portfolio that is designed to maintain a target of a 4% income stream for unitholders

The 4% is based on the total of your VRIF holdings, and it pays you the amount divided into monthly installments for each year.

The new ETF portfolio complements the existing suite of Vanguard all-in-one asset allocation ETFs. However, it differs from the others in several ways.

It is a tax-efficient income stream that you can hold in both taxable and tax-sheltered accounts like a TFSA or RRSP. 

It takes on a total return approach through an approximate asset allocation of 50% equity and 50% fixed income. It allows Vanguard VRIF to disburse payments from capital appreciation and portfolio yields to maintain its targeted 4% annual payouts.

When it comes to other all-in-one solutions, investors had to sell ETF units as necessary to meet their spending needs. Otherwise, investors would have to rely on smaller quarterly distributions that would earn them around 2% per year. 

VRIF introduces a predictable monthly income stream to help investors meet their monthly expenses without worrying about rebalancing or selling ETF units.

VRIF is currently trading close to a price of $23.51.

VRIF Key Facts

As of October 06, 2023:

  • Ticker Symbol: VRIF.TO
  • Exchange: Toronto Stock Exchange
  • Assets Under Management: $290.42 Million
  • MER: 0.32%
  • 12-Month Trailing Yield: 4.52%
  • Currency Traded: CAD
  • Eligible Accounts: Most registered (TFSA, RRSP, etc) and non-registered available

Who Should Invest

The Vanguard VRIF ETF is tailored to meet the needs of a specific demographic of investors:

  1. Retirement Seekers: Those nearing retirement or those who have already retired can significantly benefit from the steady monthly income that VRIF promises.
  2. Hands-off Investors: Investors who prefer a ‘set-it-and-forget-it’ approach to their portfolios will appreciate VRIF’s self-balancing feature. The ETF is designed to manage its asset allocation without your constant oversight.
  3. Diversification Enthusiasts: Investors who believe in the power of diversification will find VRIF’s global exposure appealing. The ETF’s assets span across various regions, ensuring that risks are spread out and opportunities are maximized.
  4. Income Prioritizers: Those who prioritize steady income over high capital growth can benefit from VRIF’s targeted 4% annual payouts. The fund’s main aim is to provide consistent income, and it employs its total return approach to achieve this.

How do All-In-One Portfolios Work?

All-in-one ETF portfolios are extremely well-diversified, low-cost, and simple-to-use portfolios that make life easier for investors than managing a portfolio of multiple holdings. You won’t need to rebalance these types of ETFs either.

If you are looking for retirement income, actively managing an ETF portfolio might be the last thing on your agenda for your golden years.

An all-in-one ETF could be a much better choice for you compared to creating your own ETF portfolio, especially if you want to spend less time investing.

Vanguard VRIF MER

The Management Expense Ratio (MER) represents a combined total of the management fee, operating expenses, and any taxes charged to a fund for a particular year.

  • VRIF’s management fees before taxes are 0.29% before taxes.
  • VRIF’s MER is 0.32%.

Vanguard VRIF Dividend

As of August 31, 2023:

  • 12-month trailing yield: 4.52%
  • Distribution yield: 4.44%
  • Dividend schedule: Monthly

Vanguard VRIF Performance 

Vanguard VRIF is a very new fund, so there isn’t too much history here:

Showing 30 Sep 2020 – 30 Sep 2023:

Fund TypeMonth EndYTD1YRSince Inception
VRIF (Market Price)− 2.60%+ 1.74%+ 5.82%+ 0.86%
VRIF (NAV)− 2.41%+ 1.87%+ 6.02%+ 0.93%
Source: Vanguard.ca

Go to the Vanguard website for real-time performance numbers of VRIF.

What does Vanguard VRIF Invest in?

Vanguard VRIF seeks to provide you with the benefits of a complex structure in a convenient solution for you.

It is a broadly diversified ETF portfolio that can be essential in safeguarding your assets during volatile market conditions. 

It pays you a regular monthly income, and it comes with full transparency about what it invests in. It aims to achieve a balanced 50% Fixed Income and 50% equity split. 

VRIF Asset Allocation

The Vanguard Retirement Income ETF portfolio seeks to provide you with a combination of consistent income with the possibility of some capital appreciation. The ETF portfolio achieves it by investing in both equity and fixed-income securities in roughly equal proportions.

As of October 09, 2023:

StocksBondsShort-term Reserves
Source: Vanguard.ca

VRIF Vanguard ETF Allocation

In this section of my Vanguard VRIF review, I will give you the asset allocation to underlying Vanguard funds. The low-cost retirement income ETF consists of eight existing low-cost underlying Vanguard index ETFs, including four Vanguard equity ETFs and four Vanguard fixed-income ETFs.

Here is a table that breaks down the ETF allocation.

As of August 31, 2023:

Canadian Corporate Bond Index ETF32.17%
U.S. Aggregate Bond Index ETF (CAD-hedged)31.36%
FTSE Canada All Cap Index ETF8.74%
FTSE Developed All Cap ex North America Index ETF8.41%
U.S. Total Market Index ETF7.83%
FTSE Emerging Markets All Cap Index ETF6.22%
Global ex-U.S. Aggregate Bond Index ETF (CAD-hedged)3.30%
Canadian Aggregate Bond Index ETF1.96%
Source: Vanguard.ca

VRIF Region Exposure

The Vanguard VRIF Asset Allocation is also geographically diversified.

As of May 31, 2023:

Middle East0.17%
North America53.49%
Emerging Markets19.26%

The ETF is an even split between geographically diversified stocks and bonds.

VRIF Market Allocation

As of August 31, 2023:

CanadaNorth America28.2%
United States of AmericaNorth America25.3%
ChinaEmerging Markets6.2%
United KingdomEurope3.9%
IndiaEmerging Markets3.6%
TaiwanEmerging Markets3.4%

VRIF Portfolio Characteristics

As of August 31, 2023:


Number of Stocks13,626
Median Market Cap$98.4 B
Price / Earnings Ratio 13.8 x
Price / Book Ratio 1.7 x
Return on Equity 12.0%
Earnings Growth Rate 9.5%
Source: Vanguard.ca


Number of Bonds19,563
Average Duration5.6 years
Average Maturity9.7 years
Average Coupon3.2%
Short-term Reserves0.1%
Source: Vanguard.ca

VRIF Market capitalization

As of May 31, 2023:

Source: Vanguard.ca

Vanguard VRIF 4% Income

Vanguard VRIF offers a unique quality of providing its investors with a steady income that it pays out in monthly installments. The ETF will create 60% of its cash flow through actual income from the underlying assets and 40% of it from capital gains.

The basic target of the fund is to maintain a similar payment amount per share. A steady income is generally challenging to achieve, but VRIF will sell stock and bond shares to achieve a similar dollar amount payout.

Every year, the payout amount and payout rate will be re-evaluated in January. However, the dollar amount given will be similar, and Vanguard has stated that it won’t change much. However, the 4% amount may go up or down, depending on how the markets perform each year.

The total return approach for retirement funding is designed to allow the fund to offer a relatively fixed income. In most cases, it will sell shares of stocks and bonds that increase in price. VRIF essentially harvests capital appreciation on your investments to create your retirement income at a steady rate.

Since VRIF will be providing you with a steady income using capital appreciation, it is unlikely that you will see high overall capital growth. Vanguard said that they can anticipate instances of capital returns through VRIF as rarely as once in ten years.

VRIF Vanguard Sector Weighting

VRIF is heavily invested in technology, financials, and consumer discretionaries. Here’s the sector weighting as of August 31, 2023:

Consumer Discretionary12.07%
Health Care7.33%
Basic Materials7.1%
Consumer Staples5.37%
Real Estate2.81%

VRIF Distribution by credit quality

As of August 31, 2023:

Credit RatingFund
Less than BBB0.0%
Source: Vanguard.ca

VRIF Distribution by credit issuer

As of August 31, 2023:

Financial Institutions29.0%
Mortgage Backed Security Pass-through9.4%
Local Authority1.2%
Commercial Mortgage Backed Security0.6%
Asset Backed Security0.2%

VRIF Distribution by credit maturity

As of August 31, 2023:

Over 25 Years6.6%
20 – 25 Years5.1%
15 – 20 Years4.7%
10 – 15 Years4.2%
5 – 10 Years28.7%
1 – 5 Years49.1%
Under 1 Year1.4%
Source: Vanguard.ca

Vanguard VRIF ETF vs. Other Vanguard ETFs


VGRO is Vanguard’s Growth Portfolio ETF. It is similar to Vanguard VRIF and consists of many other existing Vanguard ETFs. VGRO is also a self-allocating fund that you don’t need to rebalance yourself.

The main difference between Vanguard VGRO and Vanguard VRIF is that VGRO has more of an aggressive approach, and it tilts towards capital appreciation. It aims for an 80% Equity and 20% Fixed-income asset allocation.

VRIF targets a 4% consistent income for its investors. The fund aims for a 50% Equity and 50% Fixed-income asset allocation to achieve its target.

Read my full VGRO review here.


VEQT is a part of Vanguard Canada’s popular portfolio series. It is useful for a set-it-and-forget-it strategy for ETF investors like Vanguard VRIF. However, it has an entirely different approach to it. Vanguard VEQT is a passive all-equity portfolio ETF.

VQET seeks to maintain 100% equity and has a more aggressive approach compared to VRIF. It entails having a high-risk tolerance and is not ideal for investors seeking fixed retirement income. Vanguard VRIF has a 50/50 split between Equity and Fixed-income.

Read my full VEQT review here.

Who Should Buy Vanguard VRIF?

You should consider investing in VRIF if:

  • You want an all-in-one balanced investment portfolio that gives you globally diversified exposure to stocks and bonds.
  • You do not want to spend time rebalancing your investments.
  • You want to earn a fixed income from your portfolio for your retirement without much need for capital growth.
  • You find the 50% Equity and 50% fixed-income security allocation suitable for your risk tolerance and investment goals.


Vanguard has long been a favourite investment company of mine, and I’m glad to see that VRIF doesn’t disappoint. 

Vanguard VRIF is an excellent ETF for Canadians nearing retirement. VRIF is a simple solution for investors who do not want to create and manage their own balanced portfolios.

Additionally, the fund provides you with a reliable and stable 4% fixed-rate income – a quality almost impossible to achieve with a self-constructed ETF portfolio.

Vanguard is one of the top ETF providers in Canada changing how Canadians meet their investing goals. Learn more about Vanguard’s all-in-one series here.

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Author Bio - Christopher Liew is a CFA Charterholder with 11 years of finance experience and the creator of Wealthawesome.com. Read about how he quit his 6-figure salary career to travel the world here.

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21 thoughts on “VRIF Review (2024): Vanguard Retirement Income ETF Portfolio”

  1. I have a VRIF account. My cost price has dropped significantly. I cannot figure out why this happened. The fund has dropped a lot. I do understand there is a distribution to be paid ! This is a little confusing. Please explain d

  2. VRIF has an asset allocation that can vary – for example, 40% equity now vs 50% long term target. If Vanguard wizards get the big asset allocation shifts wrong, it could hurt returns. Another example is 18% exposure to Emerging Markets (equity plus BBB and higher bonds) which is very much larger than the economic contribution of those economies or their private company capitalization, and a huge risk (e.g. if China goes “rogue” like Russia). Investing in potential rogue states is kind of like investing your money into Silicon Valley Bank common shares – you never know when it might blow up with a 100% loss. The “quants” who devise these diversified portfolios tend to look only at past returns, past correlations and past volatility but don’t put much emphasis on total loss risks. I’d rather see a stable asset mix.
    By the way, the tax characterization of distributions from VRIF is available on the Vanguard website. Last year it was around 1/3 Return of Capital (non-taxable, but illustrative of 4% in income being unattainable without eating into principal). Most of the rest was foreign income and interest. Not much was Canadian Dividends (which, at the moment) are the best after-tax income source and one which (for the TSX index) has grown about 6% a year for the past 20 years. For this reason, VRIF better suits tax sheltered accounts like TFSA, RRSP, RRIF etc.

  3. Thanks for your blog, really pertinent for me who start to invest on my own. I’m 52 and would like your opinion on a mix of 2 Vanguard FNB. For a 100k investment, I plan to put 60k in VRIF and 40k in VEQT. With recent stock market decrease, I think investing in VEQT is low risk in a 5-10 years horizon. Makes sense?

    • That sounds like a pretty good plan, yes it’s good to buy market dips. I would make sure your risk tolerance levels can handle that much equity, that’s about a 70% equity 30% fixed income portfolio. Try doing the free vanguard investor questionnaire. Glad you like the blog!

  4. I am hoping Vanguard might expand on VRIF type product with other offerings more aggressive for larger income goals.
    BMO has recently released VBAL.T that pays a fixed 6% and is 60/40.

  5. Does the income grow as the market value grows, or is the income based solely on the number of shares?
    For example if I own 1,000,000 dollars of VRIF and it pays me 40,000 in income per year, if the fund grows to be worth 2,000,000 (all capital growth without me personally buying any additional shares) will the fund still pay me the same 40,000 income?


  6. If I hold VRIF in a QuesTrade account, where does the monthly pay-out go? Does it get dumped back into my QuesTrade account, or is there a way to set up VRIF so that the payments are deposited directly to my chequing account at my bank?

    • Questrade doesn’t offer this feature, I’m not aware of any discount broker that does, including the big banks. But once you set up a withdrawal request once on Questrade, your information gets saved so it takes a minute to log in again and place a withdrawal request. I would just set a calendar reminder to do this. Hope this helps.

  7. I’m assuming they can’t GUARANTEE a 4% dividend every year. What happens if the market it down? Will the still provide the 4% and just erode the capital?

      • talking taxable accounts ..

        So … $4000 on $100,000 is taxed as normal income? is there no break for dividend income that you get monthly? or is the monthly payment not considered a dividend in VRIF?

        Would the taxation be the same for vbal or vcns?

        If a person bought the exact same ETFs that make up VRIF …. would the taxation be the same? I was originally looking at a 3 ETF portfolio.


        • Hi Wendy, yes the $4000 would be taxable. There isn’t a break if it’s a monthly dividend, but there are different tax rules for dividends vs normal income (it should be a slightly lower rate). Whether it’s VRIF, VBAL, or VCNS, this will apply. If a person bought the exact same ETFs that make up VRIF, the same also applies. Hope this helps, and always check with a tax professional if you are unsure!

  8. Very informative article…. Quick question – Is there a similar investment vehicle available in the U.S. Market. I am not able to purchase this ETF from my U.S. Ameritrade account.

    Thank you

    • Hey Joanne, you might want to try something called the Vanguard Target Retirement Fund which is based in America, but it depends on your situation. I’m afraid that my expertise is mostly in Canadian products so try to do a little more research on that.


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