Portfolio management is a specific investment approach that includes building and managing your investment portfolio through buying and selling securities and other investments to meet your short-term and long-term goals.
While you can do portfolio management on your own, you can also hire a professional portfolio manager. A professional portfolio manager will handle your investment account on your behalf, whether through active or passive management. We’ll cover what portfolio management entails to help you decide if a portfolio manager is right for you.
How much would you like to invest?
A licensed portfolio manager works on your investment portfolio on your behalf, selecting appropriate investments and overseeing your portfolio to help you achieve your financial goals.
A portfolio manager takes into account your objectives, risk tolerance, time horizon and any preferences you have regarding which securities you would like to invest in. They then measure risk and reward with expert analysis to find the right investments based on your goals and preferences.
There are two types of portfolio management: active portfolio management and passive portfolio management. Your risk tolerance might determine your portfolio management style.
Active portfolio management: This involves a portfolio manager strategically buying and selling individual stocks and other securities in an effort to beat benchmark performance. The portfolio manager will review a stock’s history, potential earning power and other considerations when deciding whether to buy or sell.
Active portfolio management tends to have a higher risk since you’re looking to beat a benchmark, but this also means you could see potentially higher rewards (or, on the flip side, larger losses). Active portfolio management with a portfolio manager tends to have higher fees compared with passive portfolios because there is more buying and selling involved.
Passive portfolio management: Passive portfolio management is mostly hands-off. Instead of hand-picking your assets, your investments are usually in exchange-traded funds (ETFs), index funds or similar securities. While active management strives to beat benchmark performance, passive portfolio management looks to match it.
There’s much less risk involved in passive management, as you spread your money around to many different assets. That also means your potential return likely won’t be as high compared with active management, but you also won’t face as tumultuous of losses. You can expect lower costs with passive management compared with active management because there is usually less trading and oversight.
When it comes to effective portfolio management, there are several key principles to keep in mind. These are generally the backbone of strategies professional portfolio managers employ.
Asset allocation is the process of dividing your portfolio among many different types of assets or securities. This includes investments like stocks, bonds, mutual funds and others. Your asset allocation depends on the types of assets you’d like to invest in, when you plan to cash out — like retirement — and how risky you are as an investor. Not all types of assets will move up and down at the same time, so having a mix of many different types of assets can help balance your portfolio and protect against outsized losses.
Diversification is about ensuring that you have a broad mix of assets in your portfolio — both among and within different asset classes — to reduce your risk. If you experience a drop in one asset, hopefully the rest of your investments won’t experience too much volatility that you’ll experience a major loss.
While it may seem tempting to put all of your money into one potentially lucrative stock or company, if that company fails you will lose all your money. Diversification spreads out your money among many different assets. This minimizes risk and lowers your chances of experiencing a huge loss when markets are down.
Rebalancing is when you adjust your portfolio back to its original asset allocation mix. As your investments change, some assets will grow more than others. Similarly, some assets will drop more than others. Rebalancing is like realigning; you want to adjust every so often to make sure things are in the right place. You can rebalance every quarter, every year or when your assets change by a certain percentage; most people need to rebalance at least annually.
When you rebalance your portfolio, you’re looking at individual assets as well as your long-term investment goals. If your investment goals have changed over the last year, you’ll want to adjust your assets to match your goals as they currently are. Sell off investments that aren’t working for you, as long as you aren’t selling those assets at a loss. Look into buying new securities that are more in line with your ideal portfolio, but try not to buy when those investments are high. Adjust your contributions as needed.
When you sell an investment, you may be taxed on those capital gains or dividends. While it’s very difficult to escape taxes, you can minimize the amount you’ll pay if you craft your portfolio correctly, and portfolio managers may keep this in mind when building your portfolio.
ETFs and index funds, for instance, are often managed with tax efficiency in mind. Some portfolio managers may also utilize tax loss harvesting, which uses investment losses to offset gains, helping to reduce your tax bill.
Tax minimization not only helps lower the amount you’ll owe in taxes right now, but in the future as well. Your investments could cost you if you aren’t minimizing your tax risk.
If you’re handling your portfolio management, you’ll need some solid investing techniques to maximize your return. When it comes to how to build a portfolio, it depends on your goals, risk tolerance and investment timeline, as well as the process of evaluating your potential returns.
One of the most effective ways to manage your portfolio is through modern portfolio theory, a popular investing strategy that upholds the importance of diversification — when you spread your money across many different assets and securities — and the notion that the more risk you take, the more reward (and loss) you could face.
Here are some other portfolio management techniques to keep in mind as you build and manage your portfolio:
Whether you need a portfolio manager depends largely on your financial situation and how much time you are willing and able to dedicate to the creation and oversight of your portfolio. For instance, if you have a lot of money to invest or your tax situation is complicated, a portfolio manager could be helpful.
Robo-advisors can be a great portfolio management for many people, as they generally have a low barrier to start investing and charge lower fees than traditional portfolio managers. However, robo-advisors generally offer passive management and a more limited selection of investments. If you are looking for a broader selection, want active management or have a more complicated financial situation, you might want to consider a traditional portfolio manager instead.
As you search for a portfolio manager, there a few things to keep in mind:
Before selecting a portfolio manager, you’ll want to shop around and compare your options — after all, this is the person who will be managing your money to ideally help you make your financial goals a reality.
The “Find a Financial Advisor” links contained in this article will direct you to webpages devoted to MagnifyMoney Advisor (“MMA”). After completing a brief questionnaire, you will be matched with certain financial advisers who participate in MMA’s referral program, which may or may not include the investment advisers discussed.