Portfolio Investment

What is a Portfolio Investment?

A portfolio investment is a collection of assets, such as equities (stocks) and bonds, that are held to achieve a specific goal. This could be longer-term capital appreciation or the generation of an income that can be withdrawn or reinvested for the future.

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But what assets can be used in an investment portfolio – and is this something you can put together yourself, or do you need a professional fund manager?

Techopedia Explains the Meaning of Portfolio Investment

Portfolio Investment

Let’s start with a detailed look at what generally constitutes an investment portfolio because there are many definitions. An investment portfolio is made up of assets that have been combined to grow wealth over the long term or generate a regular income.

It’s possible to build your portfolio by selecting various equities (stocks) and bonds, as well as choosing from various alternative asset classes now available. However, you can also buy ready-made portfolios. For example, there are also exchange-traded funds (ETFs) and mutual funds that either track – or try to outperform – specific indices.

Components of Portfolio Investment

So, what components are used in building portfolios? Two of the most common are equities and bonds because they are the simplest to understand.

Equities (also known as stocks) are shares in publicly listed companies that are traded on stock markets around the world. There are more than 50,000 such stocks, and this list includes everything from small, innovative start-ups to multinational giants such as Amazon, Appl, and Microsoft.

Bonds are another component. This involves lending money to governments or companies in exchange for a set rate of interest and your original investment returned on a future date.

Alternative assets can also be held in an investment portfolio. These include commodities, such as gold and silver, and real estate.

World Federation of Exchanges
Source: World Federation of Exchanges

Importance of an Investment Portfolio

The main benefit of an investment portfolio is holding a variety of assets that can help you achieve your investment objectives. Your aim could be saving for a particular occasion, such as helping your child buy their first house or generating an income to cover the monthly bills.

Another benefit is diversification. Properly diversified portfolios will hold uncorrelated assets that have different risk/return profiles from one another.

The hope is that they won’t all be affected by the same factors. Therefore, if one area suffers losses, these may be counterbalanced by gains elsewhere.

Types of Portfolios

There are different types of investment portfolios:

  1. Stock Portfolios: Also known as equity portfolios – put their money into a collection of shares in publicly traded companies.
  1. Fixed Income Portfolios: These will invest in several bonds that have been issued by companies or governments around the world.
  1. Mixed Asset Portfolios: These contain a combination of different assets to give investors a greater spread of exposure.
  2. Income Generators: Some investment portfolios will aim to deliver a set amount of income, either from dividend-paying stocks or fixed-income positions.
  1. Growth Portfolios: These will put their money into companies that are constantly reinvesting their profits into expanding their businesses.

Experienced investors can create their portfolios by choosing individual assets. However, many people prefer buying mutual funds run by professional managers. These funds will clearly state their objectives. Some will only invest in equities, others just fixed income. There will also be those focused on particular geographies or sectors.

You can also have mixed asset portfolios that combine stocks, bonds, and alternatives in one fund that can be held as a standalone investment or as part of a wider portfolio.

Investment Portfolio Examples

Investment portfolios have different objectives.

For example, growth investment portfolios often focus on fast-developing companies that are looking to reinvest profits into the business. The hope is that these businesses will grow rapidly and see their share prices soar.

Income portfolios, meanwhile, tend to invest in businesses that pay stable and growing dividends to their shareholders out of profits generated. It’s possible to hold several smaller portfolios, each with different objectives, as part of a broader investment strategy.

For example, you may decide to combine holdings in well-established, dividend-paying stocks with smaller businesses that have tremendous future potential.

Steps in Building an Investment Portfolio

There are some golden rules when it comes to building an investment portfolio:

  • Know your aims and objectives
  • Choose your approach
  • Carry out thorough research
  • Ensure you are properly diversified

So, what are the main steps to take when it comes to building an investment portfolio?

  • Know Your Investment Goals

What do you want to achieve? For example, are you looking to build up a nest egg for later life, or do you need another source of income? However, only invest what you can realistically afford to lose, as no investment is guaranteed.

  • Establish How Much Risk to Take

This will influence the assets held. For example, if you are trying to generate a bumper return, then you may need to consider higher-risk investments, such as emerging market equities.

But if you’re risk averse and want to generate a stable, reliable income, then an investment portfolio of large capitalization, dividend-paying stocks may be more suitable.

Risk Return Trade Off
Source: Edward Jones 
  • Decide Your Asset Allocation 

You will also need to choose between buying individual stocks and bonds – or opting for a mutual fund and having a professional manager make the investment decisions.

Mutual funds can be passively or actively managed. Passive funds usually replicate the performance of a particular stock market index. Active portfolios, meanwhile, are run by fund managers who aim to outperform their benchmarks through successful stock picking.

 

Decide Your Asset Allocation
Source: MFS asset allocation example portfolios

 

  • Choose Individual Securities or Investment Funds

Make sure you research individual securities – or mutual funds – thoroughly. There is plenty of information available from companies and investment houses. You can then buy your chosen assets. The process is very straightforward and involves signing up, providing forms of identification, and adding money to the platform.

How To Manage an Investment Portfolio

You may have spent a long time building your overall investment portfolio but it’s vital to constantly monitor your decisions and rebalance if necessary.

Ask yourself a series of questions:

  • Are the holdings performing as expected?
  • Is the level of return generated still enough, or have your investment objectives changed?

The biggest mistake is ignoring your investment portfolio, which may be underperforming and losing you a substantial amount of money. If this is the case, you must understand why a particular asset – or fund – hasn’t performed. You can then decide whether or not to keep it in your portfolio.

Advantages and Disadvantages of an Investment Portfolio

The main advantages of an investment portfolio are diversification and not relying on just a handful of securities to generate the return required.

Depending on the assets chosen, you can also benefit from straightforward investing, flexibility, and liquidity. However, the disadvantages include buying assets you don’t understand, taking on too much risk, and potentially losing a lot of money.

FAQs

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Rob Griffin

Rob worked on the business desks of the Yorkshire Post, The Guardian, Sunday Business, and Sunday Express before going freelance in 2002. Since then he has written regularly for national newspapers, consumer magazines, trade titles and websites. His work has appeared in titles such as the Mail on Sunday, Sunday Telegraph, Independent, Daily Express, Citywire, and FT Adviser.