## What is Risk Parity?

Risk parity approach is a method of portfolio creation in which the amount invested in various assets in the portfolio is determined based on the quantum of risk that security brings to the portfolio and the ultimate goal is to ensure that each asset contributes equally to the overall risk of the portfolio.

### Explanation

We look at the risk-adjusted returns while creating a portfolio, keeping in mind the constraints, the return requirement and the risk tolerance of the investor. However, in the risk parity approach, we allocate only that much amount of money in an asset, which makes the risk of the asset equal to that of the other assets in the portfolio and meets the risk tolerance as specified in the Investor Policy Statement (IPS)

Sometimes this approach is also known as the ‘Risk premia parity’ approach and it is believed by the proponents of this approach that the Sharpe ratio of such a portfolio is higher as compared to a portfolio that doesn’t follow this approach.

### How Does Risk Parity Work?

- Traditionally, the investment portfolio consists of approximately 60% stock and 40% in fixed income investments. Therefore the maximum risk, almost close to 90%, comes from the investment in stock and so does the return. In a Risk parity approach, if the asset has a high-risk high return profile, then the investment in the same is slightly lower and higher investment goes to assets with low-risk low return profiles.
- The overall aim is to maximize the Sharpe ratio so even if the numerator is smaller, the denominator is even smaller because that is the risk of the portfolio, so the overall Sharpe ratio is higher. Following smart art shows the direction in which the portfolio bends in the risk parity approach to strike a balance between riskier and less risky assets:

### Example of Risk Parity Portfolio

Let us understand with an example.

We can take a simple 2 asset portfolio and do a few calculations to show how the risk parity approach can give a better Sharpe ratio than the traditional portfolio:

**Solution:**

**For Traditional Portfolio**

**Portfolio Return**

- Portfolio Return Formula = weighted average of returns = 0.60 x 18% + 0.40 x 8% =
**14%**

**Portfolio Standard Deviation**

- The rho symbol is the coefficient of correlation between the two assets

Portfolio Standard deviation =

=** 14.107%**

**Risk Contribution = Weight of Asset * Standard Deviation of Asset**

- Stock Risk contribution = 0.60 x 22 = 13.2%
- Bond Risk contribution = 0.40x 6= 2.4%

**For Risk Parity Portfolio**

**Portfolio Return**

- Portfolio Return = 0.2143 x 18% +0.7857 x 8% =
**10 %**

**Portfolio Standard Deviation**

= **67%**

**Risk Contribution = Weight of Asset * Standard Deviation of Asset**

- Stock Risk Contribution = 0.2143 x 22 =
**4.71%** - Bond Risk Contribution = 0.7857 x 6 =
**4.71%**

So we can see that the risk parity approach has a higher Sharpe ratio, even with a lower portfolio return

### Benefits

**Diversification:**In the Risk Parity approach, a smaller portion of the investment is made in all kinds of assets such as stock, bonds, commodities, treasury inflation-protected securities, risk-free assets, and so on. This increases the chances of a good return even in times of lower stock market performance.**Therefore, the very first such portfolio was known as ‘All-weather’ fund and was started in 1996.****Low cost:**Such portfolios are less actively managed and therefore earn a passive return and the fee structure is lower, therefore those who can’t afford heavy investment management fees prefer such portfolios. The clientele mostly consists of safe return seekers and therefore those who have lower risk tolerance such as pensioners.**Safer in Recession:**When the economy is facing the recessionary headwinds, such portfolios can bear it better than a traditional portfolio which is heavily invested in stocks and other riskier assets. Such funds have lower chances of losing value because the diversified pool can give a cushion to the return and prevent it from falling too much. During the financial crisis of 2007 and for a few years post that, this portfolio gave a better performance as compared to stock-heavy portfolios.

### Limitation

Opponents of this approach point out that not all that glitters is gold, they say that even though the risk is lower, it is not eliminated:

**Market timing risk:**Risk Parity portfolios, do face the risk of market timing because the risk or volatility of the invested asset may not always remain constant and therefore it might be the case that the risk goes beyond the prescribed limits and the portfolio manager is not able to pull out investment promptly.**Monitoring:**Even if active management is not required as much as it is in case of a more traditional portfolio, rebalancing and monitoring are still required, therefore the costs of such portfolios are still higher than completely passive portfolios which require almost negligible portfolio management.**Leverage:**Greater amount of leverage is required to generate a similar return as compared to the traditional portfolio management, however, it is a trade-off to generate lower risk and therefore it is up to the investor to choose.**Higher allocation to cash:**The greater need for leverage requires more cash in hand to meet periodic payments to the leverage providers and meeting margin calls. This is a limitation because cash or nearly cash securities earn very little or no return.

### Conclusion

Therefore, we can say that the Risk parity approach is a portfolio management technique in which the capital is allocated among various assets in such a way that the risk contribution of each asset is equal and therefore this approach is so named.

It is advocated that this approach leads to a higher Sharpe ratio which implies a higher risk-adjusted return, however, the use of leverage in achieving such an allocation might lead to excessive cash component. And the absolute return is lower. So the investor needs to have a clarity that if he is forgoing return, he is doing so to have a less risky portfolio and is okay with this approach.

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