Asset allocation simply means apportioning a portfolio’s assets according to an individual’s goals, risk tolerance and investment horizon. Asset allocation is the most basic and important component of investing. Even today, few investors are still not aware of the role asset allocation plays in wealth creation and preservation to achieve financial goals. Read 5 Key things to know about Asset Allocation in Mutual Funds here;
‘This’ does not mean ‘that’
Many at times, few investors confuse asset allocation with diversification. The primary reason for this is that the two terms are often used interchangeably. Asset allocation is the process of deciding the amount of exposure one needs to have in different asset classes. While diversification means how much exposure one needs to give to the multiple securities within a single asset class; asset allocation simply means the percentage or exposure to equities, bonds, cash and other alternate investment avenues. No matter, how strategically you diversify the assets in your equity portfolio; it still does not imply that it is aligned with your financial goals
The ‘tactical’ way of investing
The core motive of all investment strategies is to achieve financial goals. Since equities are believed to be a more aggressive avenue of investments that have the potential to generate higher returns, the asset allocator might give more exposure to equities irrespective of the inherent risk involved. Selection of underlying equity funds are based on research and understanding of the asset allocator
The ‘varying’ nature
Asset allocation is not the same for every portfolio. It relies largely on the level of risk an investor is comfortable with. A person who has financial goals, that he aims to achieve in 2-3 years; his portfolio would have assets allocated differently than a person who’s financial goals will take approximately 10-15 years to achieve. Likewise, asset allocation has different phases in the investment horizon of an investor depending on his requirements and goals
Playing the ‘balancing act’
A very important component of asset allocation is that all investors are required to know the fine balance between risk and return that helps the investor achieve an ideal and optimally diversified portfolio. Since the main goal of asset allocation is optimal diversification to minimize risk and maximize return; it is crucial to understand the risk-return characteristics of the different asset classes and sub-asset classes. Irrespective of equity having a slightly higher risk involved, they are known to generate returns higher than other asset classes. This could benefit the portfolio of long-term investors who intends to stay invested in equities. Having that in mind, if an investor has invested in more volatile or risk-involved securities for generating higher returns, the investor should also segregate a part of his/her portfolio for other assets to maintain some degree of stability. This is another determinant of a well-diversified portfolio that prevents the portfolio to suffer losses all at once. And this is why it is widely said, “Don’t put all your eggs in one basket”.
Factors that are ‘Dynamic’ and ‘Periodic Rebalancing’
Talking about risks and returns, this brings to another important component investors must know – that is dynamic allocation of assets and periodic rebalancing. Quite often, asset allocation is based on market situation, wherein the portfolio consists of assets allocated dynamically calibrating itself according to the rise and fall of the market. Here, the fund manager exits the underperforming stocks and includes the performing stocks in the portfolio. Also, the portfolio must be reviewed periodically and rebalanced accordingly.