Asset allocation is the process of selecting a mix of asset classes that closely matches your financial profile in terms of investment preferences and tolerance for risk. It is based on the premise that the different asset classes have varying cycles of performance, and that by investing in multiple classes, the overall investment returns will be more stable and less susceptible to adverse movements in any one class.
All investments involve some sort of risk, whether it’s market risk, interest risk, inflation risk, liquidity risk, or tax risk. An individualized asset allocation strategy seeks to mitigate the risks of any one asset class though diversification and balance.
When done properly, an investor’s allocation of assets will reflect goals, priorities, investment preferences and tolerance for risk. Asset allocation is an individualized strategy, so there really is no perfect mix of assets. Each individual’s strategy is built on the careful consideration of the key elements of their financial profile.
Investment Objectives: What the investor hopes to achieve using his or her investment dollars – improve current lifestyle; achieve capital growth; fund a specific goal, such as a college education
Risk Tolerance: This reflects the investor’s comfort level with market fluctuations that can result in losses. Inflation risk and interest risk need to be considered as well
Investment Preferences: An investor may prefer one asset class over another based on a certain bias or interest towards the characteristics of that class
Time Horizon: The length of time an investor has allocated to achieve stated objectives
Taxation: Investing in a mix of asset classes will have varying tax consequences
An Evolving Strategy
A sound asset allocation strategy includes periodic reviews.
About the only certainty when it comes to the financial markets is that they will change, and so will your financial situation. Through market gains and losses, a portfolio can become unbalanced and it may be important to make adjustments to your allocation. As people move through life’s stages their needs, preferences, priorities and risk tolerance change and so too must their asset allocation strategy.
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Asset allocation is an investment strategy that will not guarantee a profit or protect you from a loss.