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What is an 'Aggressive Investment Strategy'

An aggressive investment strategy is a means of portfolio management that attempts to maximize returns by taking a relatively higher degree of risk. An aggressive investment strategy emphasizes capital appreciation as a primary investment objective, rather than income or safety of principal. Such a strategy would therefore have an asset allocation with a substantial weighting in stocks, and a much smaller allocation to fixed income and cash. Aggressive investment strategies are especially suitable for young adults, because a lengthy investment horizon enables them to ride out market fluctuations. Regardless of the investor’s age, however, a high tolerance for risk is an absolute prerequisite for an aggressive investment strategy.

BREAKING DOWN 'Aggressive Investment Strategy'

The aggressiveness of an investment strategy depends on the relative weight of high-reward, high-risk asset classes, such as equities and commodities, within the portfolio.

For example, Portfolio A which has an asset allocation of 75% equities, 15% fixed income and 10% commodities would be considered quite aggressive, since 85% of the portfolio is weighted to equities and commodities. However, it would still be less aggressive than Portfolio B, which has an asset allocation of 85% equities and 15% commodities.

Even within the equity component of an aggressive portfolio, the composition of stocks can have a significant bearing on its risk profile. For instance, if the equity component only consists of blue-chip stocks, it would be considered less risky than if the portfolio only held small-capitalization stocks. If this is the case in the earlier example, Portfolio B could arguably be considered less aggressive than Portfolio A, even though it has 100% of its weight in aggressive assets.

Aggressive Investment Strategy and Active Management

An aggressive strategy needs more active management than a conservative “buy-and-hold” strategy, since it is likely to be much more volatile and could require frequent adjustments, depending on market conditions. More rebalancing would also be required to bring portfolio allocations back to their target levels. Volatility of the assets could lead allocations to deviate significantly from their original weights.

Recent years have seen significant pushback against active investing strategies. Many investors have pulled their assets out of hedge funds, for example, due to these managers' underperformance. Instead, some have chosen to place their money with passive managers. These managers adhere to investing styles that often employ mutual and exchange-traded funds (ETFs). In these cases portfolios often mirror a market index, such as the S&P 500.

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