Techniques for Asset Allocation

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Techniques for Asset Allocation


Asset allocation is a key component of successful long-term investing. It involves determining the optimum mix of different asset classes to meet an investor’s desired level of risk and return. Choosing the best techniques for asset allocation can be difficult for individual investors and even professional financial advisors. Fortunately, we can refer to the work of reliable experts to learn the best strategies and techniques. This article will discuss the various techniques for asset allocation, focusing on modern portfolio theory and the more advanced adaptive asset allocation.

Modern Portfolio Theory

Modern portfolio theory (MPT) is a financial theory based on the concept of diversification. Developed by Harry Markowitz in 1952, MPT is used by investors to maximize return while minimizing risk. The basis of modern portfolio theory is that by combining different assets and asset classes, we can reduce the overall risk of the portfolio. This is known as the diversification effect. Under modern portfolio theory, an investor must determine the optimal mix of investments for a given risk tolerance. One key concept of MPT is the efficient frontier, which shows the optimal balance of risk and return. According to MPT, an investor should aim to construct a portfolio that lies on the efficient frontier.

Mean-variance Optimization

Mean-variance optimization (MVO) is an investment technique that helps an investor to determine the optimal portfolio for a given level of risk. In MVO, an investor must specify the desired levels of return and risk. The optimal portfolio is then determined by choosing the mix of assets that maximizes return while minimizing risk. MVO is a key concept of modern portfolio theory, but it can also be applied independent of MPT. MVO can be used to determine the efficient frontier, which is the optimum balance of risk and return.

Life-cycle Asset Allocation

Life-cycle asset allocation (LCA) is a technique for constructing a portfolio that is tailored to the individual investor's life stage and risk tolerance. LCA focuses on choosing the right mix of assets based on an investor's age and risk tolerance. Generally speaking, investors should become increasingly conservative with their portfolios as their risk tolerance declines. Under LCA, an investor should determine his or her current life stage and risk profile and then construct a portfolio that is appropriate for that stage. Additionally, LCA emphasizes the importance of regularly monitoring and rebalancing the portfolio to ensure that it remains appropriate for the investor's circumstances.

Adaptive Asset Allocation

Adaptive asset allocation (AAA) is a relatively new technique for constructing and managing portfolios. Unlike traditional portfolio management, AAA relies on near real-time feedback from markets and economic indicators to dynamically adjust the portfolio. Under AAA, an investor's portfolio is adjusted regularly based on economic factors such as inflation, economic growth, and interest rates. The theory behind AAA is that it can help investors to outperform traditional portfolio management by adjusting portfolios to adapt to changing economic environments.

Tactical Asset Allocation

Tactical asset allocation (TAA) is another technique for constructing and managing portfolios. Unlike the other techniques, TAA is based on the belief that market returns can be predicted in advance. Under TAA, an investor will select the mix of assets that is expected to generate the highest return in a given period of time. TAA relies heavily on economic analysis and forecasting, and it is therefore recommended that investors use TAA in conjunction with a professional financial advisor.


Asset allocation is essential for long-term investing success. There are various techniques for constructing and managing portfolios, such as modern portfolio theory, mean-variance optimization, life-cycle asset allocation, adaptive asset allocation, and tactical asset allocation. Each technique has its own set of advantages and disadvantages, and the right choice depends on an investor's risk tolerance and individual circumstances.


[1] Smith, K. (2021). Modern Portfolio Theory: What Is It and How Does It Work? Investopedia. [2] Mean-Variance Optimization. Investopedia. [3] Dlabay, L. & Burrow, M. (2012). Investments: An Introduction (6th ed.). Mason, OH: Cengage Learning. [4] G. Hekimoglu, M. & Argun, S. (2009). Adaptive Asset Allocation Based on Principal Component Analysis. International Conference on Artificial Intelligence and Cognitive Science. [5] Cormane, R. (2021). Tactical Asset Allocation: Definition and Examples. Investopedia.



December 21, 2022

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