Portfolio Management - Return Objectives and Investment Constraints

Return objectives can be divided into the following needs:

  1. Capital Preservation - Capital preservation is the need to maintain capital. To accomplish this objective, the return objective should, at a minimum, be equal to the inflation rate. In other words, nominal rate of return would equal the inflation rate. With this objective, an investor simply wants to preserve his existing capital.
  1. Capital Appreciation -Capital appreciation is the need to grow, rather than simply preserve, capital. To accomplish this objective, the return objective should be equal to a return that exceeds the expected inflation. With this objective, an investor's intention is to grow his existing capital base.
  2. Current Income -Current income is the need to create income from the investor's capital base. With this objective, an investor needs to generate income from his investments. This is frequently seen with retired investors who no longer have income from work and need to generate income off of their investments to meet living expenses and other spending needs.
  1. Total Return - Total return is the need to grow the capital base through both capital appreciation and reinvestment of that appreciation.

Investment Constraints
When creating a policy statement, it is important to consider an investor's constraints. There are five types of constraints that need to be considered when creating a policy statement. They are as follows:

  1. Liquidity Constraints - Liquidity constraints identify an investor's need for liquidity, or cash. For example, within the next year, an investor needs $50,000 for the purchase of a new home. The $50,000 would be considered a liquidity constraint because it needs to be set aside (be liquid) for the investor.
  2. Time Horizon - A time horizon constraint develops a timeline of an investor's various financial needs. The time horizon also affects an investor's ability to accept risk. If an investor has a long time horizon, the investor may have a greater ability to accept risk because he would have a longer time period to recoup any losses. This is unlike an investor with a shorter time horizon whose ability to accept risk may be lower because he would not have the ability to recoup any losses.
  3. Tax Concerns - After-tax returns are the returns investors are focused on when creating an investment portfolio. If an investor is currently in a high tax bracket as a result of his income, it may be important to focus on investments that would not make the investor's situation worse, like investing more heavily in tax-deferred investments.
  1. Legal and Regulatory - Legal and regulatory factors can act as an investment constraint and must be considered. An example of this would occur in a trust. A trust could require that no more than 10% of the trust be distributed each year. Legal and regulatoryconstraints such as this one often can't be changed and must not be overlooked.
  1. Unique Circumstances - Any special needs or constraints not recognized in any of the constraints listed above would fall in this category. An example of a unique circumstance would be the constraint an investor might place on investing in any company that is not socially responsible, such as a tobacco company.

The Importance of Asset Allocation
Asset Allocation is the process of dividing a portfolio among major asset categories such as bonds, stocks or cash. The purpose of asset allocation is to reduce risk by diversifying the portfolio.

The ideal asset allocation differs based on the risk tolerance of the investor. For example, a young executive might have an asset allocation of 80% equity, 20% fixed income, while a retiree would be more likely to have 80% in fixed income and 20% equities.

Citizens in other countries around the world would have different asset allocation strategies depending on the types and risks of securities available for placement in their portfolio. For example, a retiree located in the United States would most likely have a large portion of his portfolio allocated to U.S. treasuries, since the U.S. Government is considered to have an extremely low risk of default. On the other hand, a retiree in a country with political unrest would most likely have a large portion of their portfolio allocated to foreign treasury securities, such as that of the U.S.

Portfolio Management Theories
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