What is 'Investing Style'

Investing style is an overarching strategy or theory used by an investor to set asset allocation and choose individual securities for investment.

BREAKING DOWN 'Investing Style'

Investing styles for individual investors are typically built from their risk tolerance, which can be generally classified as either conservative, moderate or aggressive. Risk is usually a primary concern for individual investors when determining an investing style and making investment decisions. Risk is also usually a key aspect of disclosure for investors when analyzing managed funds for investment.

Optimal Portfolios

Modern portfolio theory suggests that investors should be practical in diversifying their investments in order to achieve optimal risk and return. Yet with risk as a primary consideration, investors still have a multitude of investments for building a personal portfolio of individual securities or managed funds. In the investment universe, investors will find both securities and funds reporting characteristics that fit with an investor’s investing style.

Individual Securities

When investing in individual securities, investors often look to stocks, bonds and commodities. Each has different risk levels and investment characteristics. Conservative investors may seek individual securities for income. Many stable, large-cap stocks pay dividends that provide for conservative to moderate risk with steady income. Bonds can also be a top investment for income investors, as they provide steady payouts from coupon payments.

Within each asset class, investors will also find sub-asset classes that can guide their investing style. Within stocks, sub-asset classes may include growth or value. Within bonds, investors may choose to invest higher on the risk spectrum, with high-yield bonds, or more conservatively, with high-quality bonds.

Managed Accounts and Funds

Financial service providers and investment managers across the industry provide both managed accounts and managed funds that can support style or thematic investing.

Managed Accounts

Robo advisors, wrap accounts and separately managed accounts are all options for investors seeking support in managing to a certain investing style. Robo advisors and wrap accounts often base style investing on an investor’s risk profile, with active management also offering customized investing style options. Motif Investing is one company that provides robo advisement for investors seeking to build a customized portfolio based on personal preferences and themes. The service supports thematic investing and also socially responsible investing.

Managed Funds

Investing in managed funds can be one of the best ways to invest for style while also receiving the benefits of professional diversification. Most mutual funds and exchange-traded funds (ETFs) will employ a consistent investment style. For 1940 Act funds, a manager’s investment style must be clearly articulated and disclosed in the fund’s prospectus, which is filed with its registration.

In the managed fund investment industry, investors will find all types of investment style options that generally fall into risk tolerance categories.


Conservative investors will often look to fixed-income products such as money market funds, loan funds and bond funds. These funds are also good investments for income investors, as they pay steady distributions. Investing styles in this conservative group can vary by short, intermediate and long-term durations as well as credit quality.


Moderate risk investors are often drawn to large-cap, blue chip stocks and value investing. Large-cap, blue chip stocks offer the advantage of mature businesses and regular dividends. Value investments are identified as underperforming intrinsic value and can offer dividends with long-term capital appreciation, serving well as long-term holdings.


Aggressive investors will seek the higher risk investment styles in the market, such as growth funds, aggressive growth funds, capital opportunity funds and alternative hedge fund investment styles that have broader flexibility to utilize leverage and derivatives. International equities, such as funds focused on the emerging markets, BRIC countries or Asia ex-Japan, can also be attractive investment styles for more aggressive investors.

Passive versus Active

Among all risk categories, investors will also find passive versus active funds. Some investors may choose a passive investing style that offers exposure to various segments of the market often with lower costs and lower risk.

Due Diligence

Each investor will have his own investing style and methods for managing investments. Do-it-yourself investors will take a more independent approach while investors using full-service financial advisory platforms tend to rely more heavily on professional advice to help mold their investing styles.

Regardless of the investing style an investor follows, due diligence is an important aspect for ensuring that an investment meets an investor’s style and also for maintaining investing style. Choosing funds with clearly followed investment style objectives can help investors manage a targeted portfolio. Working with a financial advisor or investment service that deploys regular rebalancing can also help investors to avoid style drift and ensure their investments are maintained according to their investing style preferences.

For more on personal investing style see also: 6 Investment Styles: Which Fits You?, How To Pick Your Investment Style and Warren Buffett's Investment Style Reviewed.

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