Strategic Asset Allocation: Definition, How It Works, Types, and Examples


Strategic asset allocation is a sophisticated investment strategy that allows investors to create a well-balanced portfolio tailored to their financial goals, risk tolerance, and time horizon. This comprehensive guide delves into the intricacies of strategic asset allocation, offering insights, examples, pros and cons, and frequently asked questions to empower you to make informed investment decisions.

Understanding strategic asset allocation

Strategic asset allocation is a dynamic investment strategy that goes beyond simply picking stocks and bonds. It’s about crafting a diversified portfolio tailored to your unique financial situation and objectives. This comprehensive approach involves the following key aspects:

Customized target allocations

Strategic asset allocation begins with setting target allocations for various asset classes like equities, fixed income, real estate, and more. These allocations are customized based on factors such as:

Risk tolerance: Your willingness and ability to tolerate market fluctuations.

Time horizon: The length of time you intend to hold your investments.

Investment goals: Specific objectives like retirement, education, or wealth accumulation.

These factors serve as the building blocks of your investment strategy, ensuring it aligns with your financial aspirations.

Periodic rebalancing

Strategic asset allocation isn’t a one-time decision; it’s a continuous process. Portfolios must be periodically rebalanced to maintain the desired asset class allocations. Rebalancing becomes necessary when the actual allocations deviate significantly from the target allocations due to varying returns from different assets.

Regular reviews and adjustments keep your portfolio on track and help manage risk effectively.

Long-term perspective

Unlike short-term trading strategies, strategic asset allocation emphasizes a long-term perspective. It’s about staying committed to your investment plan, even during market volatility. This approach acknowledges that short-term market fluctuations are a natural part of investing and focuses on the broader financial journey.

Diversification for risk reduction

Strategic asset allocation is rooted in modern portfolio theory, which advocates diversification as a means of reducing risk. By spreading investments across various asset classes, investors can mitigate the impact of underperforming assets and capitalize on those that outperform. Diversification enhances the potential for consistent, long-term returns.

Strategic asset allocation example

To illustrate strategic asset allocation, let’s consider a hypothetical scenario:

Meet Sarah, a 35-year-old investor with a moderate risk tolerance and a goal to retire comfortably in 25 years. After a thorough assessment of her financial situation, she decides on the following strategic asset allocation:

Equities: 60%

Fixed income: 30%

Real estate: 10%

Sarah’s initial investment is $100,000. Over the years, as her portfolio grows, the actual allocation may drift due to varying returns from these asset classes. However, Sarah regularly rebalances her portfolio to maintain these percentages, ensuring her investments remain aligned with her long-term objectives.

This strategic approach provides Sarah with the potential for steady growth while managing risk over her investment horizon.


Here is a list of the benefits and drawbacks of strategic asset allocation.

  • Customization: Tailored to individual goals and risk tolerance.
  • Risk management: Diversification minimizes the impact of market volatility.
  • Long-term focus: Aligns with a patient, goal-oriented approach.
  • Consistency: Regular rebalancing helps maintain target allocations.
  • Underperformance: During strong market trends, it may lag behind tactical strategies.
  • Discipline required: Requires commitment to the long-term plan.
  • Missed opportunities: May not capture short-term market opportunities.

Frequently asked questions

How often should I rebalance my portfolio under a strategic asset allocation strategy?

Portfolio rebalancing frequency can vary but is typically done annually. However, you may need to adjust it if there are significant changes in your financial situation or if your investments deviate substantially from your target allocations.

Can strategic asset allocation be combined with active trading strategies?

Yes, some investors opt for a hybrid approach that combines elements of both strategic and active trading strategies. This allows for flexibility to capitalize on short-term opportunities while maintaining a core, long-term asset allocation plan.

How does strategic asset allocation differ from market timing?

Strategic asset allocation is focused on creating a diversified, long-term portfolio tailored to your financial goals. Market timing, on the other hand, involves making short-term investment decisions based on predictions about market movements. It’s generally considered riskier and more speculative.

Is strategic asset allocation suitable for retirees?

Yes, strategic asset allocation can be adapted to suit retirees’ needs by adjusting the asset mix to prioritize income generation and capital preservation. A financial advisor can help retirees fine-tune their allocation to align with their retirement goals.

Key takeaways

  • Strategic asset allocation is a dynamic investment strategy customized to individual risk tolerance, time horizon, and goals.
  • It involves setting target allocations, periodic rebalancing, and maintaining a long-term perspective.
  • Diversification is a key element, helping reduce risk while enhancing returns.
  • Pros include customization, risk management, long-term focus, and consistency, while cons involve potential underperformance, discipline requirements, and missed short-term opportunities.
View Article Sources
  1. Beginners’ guide to asset allocation, diversification, and rebalancing – U.S. Securities and Exchange Commissions
  2. Asset allocation – U.S. Securities and Exchange Commissions
  3. Building a strong financial portfolio: your path to financial security – SuperMoney
  4. Portfolio management strategies: how to maximize your investments – SuperMoney