What is Asset Allocation?

Published: 7-Apr-2024

Author: Ben Payne

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Asset allocation is the strategic division of your investments across different asset classes which is the foundation of any well-constructed portfolio.

These classes act as building blocks with unique characteristics:

  • Cash accounts: These provide low risk and low returns but offer easy access to your capital, similar to having emergency supplies in your house.
  • Fixed income and Bonds: These are essentially loans you make to companies or governments which offer steadier income and are generally considered less lower risk than stocks. Bonds function like the foundation of your house, providing stability and security.
  • Real Estate and infrastructure: These types of investments can offer a combination of income from rent and potential for capital appreciation but are less liquid than stocks and bonds.
  • Stocks (equities): Represent ownership in companies and offer the potential for high growth but also come with higher risk of price fluctuations.

Why is Asset Allocation Important?

By strategically allocating your investments across these asset classes, you aim to:

  • Balance Risk and Reward: Stocks offer high growth potential but with significant risk, while bonds provide stability with lower returns. Real estate and infrastructure can fall somewhere in between. Asset allocation allows you to find a comfort zone for risk based on your goals and personal tolerance.
  • Smooth Out Portfolio Volatility: Different asset classes tend to move in opposite directions during economic cycles. When stocks fall, bonds may rise, and vice versa. This diversification helps to smooth out the overall ups and downs of your portfolio value.
  • Align with Your Investment Goals: Are you saving for retirement in 20 years? Or looking for a down payment on a house in 5 years? Your investment timeline plays a big role. Asset allocation can be tailored to your goals, with a longer timeline allowing for a potentially higher allocation to growth-oriented assets like stocks and real estate.

There is no one-size-fits-all approach to asset allocation and a qualified financial advisor can help you determine an appropriate asset allocation strategy that considers your unique circumstances, risk tolerance and investment goals. By carefully selecting and balancing your investment building blocks, you can construct a well-diversified portfolio that's built to weather different market conditions and help you achieve your financial objectives.

Investopedia.com: What Is Asset Allocation and Why Is It Important?

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