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asset allocation

Asset Allocation

Understanding Strategic Asset Allocation

Sam Bourgi Oct 09, 2018

Let us dive a little deeper into understanding the implications of strategic asset allocation.

Significance of Strategic Asset Allocation

As a traditional approach to portfolio building, strategic asset allocation compels market participants to determine how much of their money should be allocated to broad investment categories, such as stocks, bonds, mutual funds or currencies. Once an investor decides on their optimal allocation, they usually stick with it for the long haul or until new information compels them to take a different direction.

Although there is no hard rule for determining your optimal asset allocation, this strategy usually begins by assessing your risk tolerance and investing timeframe.

  • How much can you stand to lose in the marketplace?
  • Are you willing to take higher risks for higher rewards or do you prefer stable returns at minimal risks?
  • How long do you plan to stay invested?

These are just some of the initial questions you need to answer before starting the allocation process.

Answering these questions as truthfully as possible will help you or your portfolio manager determine how aggressively to invest in certain assets. Investors with a higher risk appetite and shorter investing window will usually allocate a greater share of their capital toward stocks and, within that category, high-growth sectors such as information technology and fast-growing regions such as emerging markets. On the other hand, risk-off investors with a longer timeframe may allocate a greater share of their portfolio to bonds or large-cap stocks in the S&P 500 or Dow Jones Industrial Average.

A typical strategic asset allocation breakdown is 70% stocks/20% bonds/10% cash. A similar breakdown, called 60/40, allocates 60% to stocks and 40% to bonds. Once your allocation is determined, the portfolio is rebalanced periodically to ensure that the original structure is maintained.

Strategic allocation can certainly change over time, but instances of change are infrequent. That’s because your portfolio is designed to perform during a particular market cycle, which can often last six-to-eight years or more. Changes that affect your investment goals or risk tolerance can certainly warrant revisiting your asset allocation strategy.

Click here to learn more about different asset types and custom asset allocation strategies to suit your specific needs.

Advantages and Disadvantages of Strategic Asset Allocation

The mix of investments selected using this strategy do not change with the markets, which means you’re not constantly worried about changing your portfolio through peaks and troughs. What’s more, strategic allocation rebalances portfolios to target weights at a pre-specified period so there are no surprises.

This type of investing strategy is ideal for investors who want to sleep at night and not worry about chasing the market. They can also go to bed at night knowing that their investment decisions aren’t being dictated by herd mentality or speculation.

Given its underlying goals and objectives, it’s only natural to highlight some of the inherent disadvantages of strategic asset allocation. Since your portfolio is structured to obtain a specific return based on your risk sentiment and investment timeframe, it does not factor anomalies in the market. This means your portfolio can underperform the broader market, especially during bullish periods. It also means your portfolio is unlikely to gain exposure to new fast-growing industries (i.e. blockchain) or regions (i.e. India) that do not fall within your pre-defined risk tolerance.

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The Bottom Line

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