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Strategic Asset Allocation

Updated on March 28, 2024
Article byHimani Bhatt
Edited byHimani Bhatt
Reviewed byDheeraj Vaidya, CFA, FRM

Strategic Asset Allocation Definition

Strategic Asset Allocation (SSA) is a long-term portfolio investment strategy whereby investors maintain a fixed proportion of assets in their portfolio by rebalancing it at regular intervals. This strategy enables investors to attain their financial goals by balancing risk and returns through a diversified portfolio.

Strategic Asset Allocation

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This asset allocation strategy incorporates equities (large-cap, mid-cap, or small-cap), bonds, money market securities, and cash to create a well-balanced portfolio with fixed targets. The target allocations are based on the investor’s investment time frame, risk tolerance, and financial goals. Being a passive investing strategy requiring minimum maintenance, it is widely popular among amateur investors. Needlessly, it is among the strongest portfolio allocation strategies offering maximum rate-of-return at a specified risk level.

Key Takeaways

  • Strategic asset allocation (SAA) is a long-term investment strategy where asset classes possess a fixed target allocation that is periodically adjusted to balance risk and return. 
  • Target allocations are based on investors’ risk tolerance level, financial goals, and available time frame to achieve the objectives. 
  • SAA is similar to a buy-and-hold strategy, suitable for a novice, risk-averse investor with a long-time horizon. 
  • The major difference between strategic and tactical asset allocation lies in the flexibility of target allocations. Under the tactical strategy, investors can frequently alter the allocations as per market conditions.

Strategic Asset Allocation Explained

Asset allocation strategies assist in maintaining a perfect balance between risk and rewards via investment in diversified asset classes. SAA is one of the three prevalent portfolio management approaches, besides tactical and dynamic asset allocation.

Under SSA, targets are allotted for asset classes which are maintained through frequent portfolio adjustments. The process begins with investors deciding their portfolio composition and discerning investment disbursement in each asset class like equity, cash, and bonds.

Note that equity provides tax benefits and greater returns in the long run, while bonds offer safety and stable income. At the same time, cash provides much-needed liquidity. Therefore, bearing in mind their investment objectives, risk tolerance, liquidity requirements, investment time horizon, tax status, etc., investors select the financial assets to be included in their portfolio.

Target weights are allotted depending on the long-term risk and return expectations from each asset class. Once the final allocation has been made, it is periodically revised or modified to rebalance the portfolio.

This realignment is required because different asset classes in the portfolio will perform at different levels, deviating from the targets in the SAA. Therefore, investors must readjust it on a predetermined schedule (like annually) to reinstate the original allocation.

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Examples of Strategic Asset Allocation

Suppose David has a $700,000 portfolio with an SAA of 40% equities, 30% cash, 20% bonds, and 10% foreign stocks. This amounts to target allocations of $280000 for equities, $210000 for cash, $140000 for bonds, and $70000 for foreign stocks.

After a year, equity offers a 10% rate of return; cash comes with a 2% return, while bonds and foreign stocks provide a 5% return each. Now, the portfolio bears $308000, $214200, $147000, and $73500 for equities, cash, bonds, and foreign stocks, respectively. So, the total portfolio value is $742,700, with an overall rate of return worth 6.1%. 

Asset classTarget allocationTarget allocationYearly ReturnAllocation (after a year)
Equities$28000040%10%$308,000
Cash$21000030%2%$214,200
Bonds$14000020%5%$147,000
Foreign Stocks$7000010%5%$73,500
Total$700,000  $742,700

The portfolio composition is now 41.47% equities, 28.84% cash, 19.79% bonds, and 9.89% foreign stocks. The SAA approach requires David to readjust the asset classes back to their original allocations.

Asset classCurrent amountTarget allocationTarget amountAdjustment
Equities$3,08,00040%$297,080($10,920)
Cash$2,73,00030%$222,810($50,190)
Bonds$1,68,00020%$148,540(+) $19,460
Foreign Stocks$77,00010%$82,600(+) $2,730
Total$742,700 $742,700 

Thus, David has to make the above adjustments to his portfolio to align the asset classes to their targets.

A research study suggests that gains from SAA depend upon elements like long-run inflation, bond or equity returns, and market volatility. The price deviations of assets may affect the mandated mix at times. However, the fund manager or investor must keep tabs on the portfolio and ensure to restore the original allocation. 

Benefits

Usually, this asset allocation strategy has a long investment time frame of 5-10 years. It ensures sustained growth toward a prolonged financial objective, avoiding brief market shifts. Precisely put, it bears a stable mix of financial assets

SAA allows investors to exploit the market’s inherent proficiency for maximum gains. It implicates proceeding with the initial plan regardless of ongoing market trends. Nonetheless, investors may change the allocation itself because of alterations in their risk tolerance level or other constraints. 

This conventional long-term portfolio management approach is customized as per the investor’s financial objectives. As a result, it generates guaranteed profits in a low-risk environment while rebalancing the portfolio to keep up with the dynamic market. One of the major benefits of strategic asset allocation is ensuring investment discipline. 

Ideal for Investors

Novice buy-and-hold investors with a long investment time horizon who prefer a hands-off technique choose SAA to attain long-term monetary gains. Investors with a low risk appetite follow this strategy to preserve and appreciate their capital over a long period of time.

This strategy contrasts with tactical asset allocation, wherein experienced investors actively manage their investments to achieve short-term commercial profits. Sometimes, financial executives employ a mixture of both asset allocation strategies to boost the security and adaptability of their finances.

Strategic Asset Allocation vs Tactical Asset Allocation

Particulars Strategic Asset Allocation Tactical Asset Allocation
Definition Fixed target allocations for asset classes with periodic portfolio rebalancing Target allocations for assets classes as per prevailing market conditions
Investment form Passive investment Active investment
Type of approach Need-based View-based
Goal-oriented Return-oriented
Trading frequency Buy-and-hold strategy Frequent trading
Preferred timespan Long-term Mid-term or short-term
Who must pick? Novice investors Experienced investors
When to pick? Prefer to be hands-off Interested in frequent trading
Willing to buy-&-hold Desire greater control
Availability of a long time period Availability of a short or mid-term time period
Advantages Major driver of portfolio revenue Magnified profits
Easy maintenance Lesser portfolio risk
Customized to the investor’s profile Enhanced diversification
Investor type Conservative investor Aggressive investor

Frequently Ask Questions (FAQs)

Q#1 – What are strategic (SAA) and tactical asset allocation (TAA) strategies?

A – Strategic and tactical asset allocations are both portfolio management strategies. SAA refers to fixed target allocation of asset classes with portfolio readjustment at regular intervals. At the same time, tactical asset allocation implies target allocation of asset classes susceptible to market changes.

Q#2 – How to create a strategic asset allocation?

A – SAA is created by picking different asset class allocations and ensuring periodic portfolio rebalancing to sustain original allocation. Moreover, this investing approach takes into account the investors’ time horizon, rate-of-return expectations, financial goals, and risk tolerance.

Q#3 – Is strategic asset allocation a passive investment strategy?

A – This strategy is a passive investment strategy as it doesn’t involve frequent portfolio alteration based on short-term market fluctuations. It is akin to a buy-and-hold strategy, where investors purchase investments and hold them for a long period.

Q#4 – What is the relevance of strategic asset allocation?

A – SAA builds a disciplined investing module. It properly aligns the asset mix with an investor’s long-term financial objectives. Many case studies have proven that it is a crucial driver of commercial gains.

This has been a Guide to Strategic Asset Allocation. We define & explain strategic asset allocation with examples & compare it with the tactical strategy. You may also have a look at the following articles to learn more –

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