expand/collapse risk warning

CFDs come with a high risk of losing money rapidly due to leverage. 71% of accounts lose money when trading CFDs with this provider. You should understand how CFDs work and consider if you can take the risk of losing your money.

CFDs are complex instruments and come with a high risk of losing money rapidly due to leverage. 71% of retail investor accounts lose money when trading CFDs with this provider. You should consider whether you understand how CFDs work and whether you can afford to take the high risk of losing your money.

71% of retail investor accounts lose money when trading CFDs with this provider.

Trading Terms

Portfolio meaning: understanding what it means in trading

RNS image representation with workers reading the news

In the world of trading, success often hinges on a delicate balance between risk and reward. Traders constantly seek strategies that can maximize their profits while minimizing potential losses. One powerful tool that aids them in this endeavor is the concept of a portfolio.

Just as an artist carefully curates a collection of their finest works, a trader strategically assembles a diverse set of investments, known as a portfolio, to navigate the unpredictable seas of financial markets. But what exactly is the meaning of portfolio and why is it considered an essential aspect of investment management?

Definition of portfolio (financial)

In finance, a portfolio refers to a collection or combination of financial assets held by an individual, organization, or investment fund. It typically includes various types of investments, such as stocks, bonds, mutual funds, exchange-traded funds (ETFs), cash equivalents, and other securities. The purpose of creating a portfolio is to achieve a specific investment objective, such as capital appreciation, income generation, or diversification.

By assembling a diverse range of assets, investors aim to manage risk by spreading their investments across different sectors, industries, geographic regions, and asset classes. This diversification helps reduce the potential impact of any single investment's performance on the overall portfolio.

Portfolios are constructed based on an investor's risk tolerance, financial goals, and time horizon. They can be actively managed, where investment decisions are regularly monitored and adjusted, or passively managed, where investments are held for the long term, often mirroring a specific market index.

Capitalise on volatility in share markets

Take a position on moving share prices. Never miss an opportunity.

Sign up

How to create & manage portfolio

Creating and managing a portfolio involves several steps and considerations. Here's a general guide:

  • Define your investment goals: Start by determining your investment objectives, such as capital appreciation, income generation, or a combination of both. Consider your time horizon, risk tolerance, and financial needs.
  • Assess your risk tolerance: Understand your willingness and ability to handle fluctuations in the value of your investments. Consider factors such as your investment experience, financial stability, and future financial obligations.
  • Determine asset allocation: Asset allocation involves deciding how much of your portfolio should be allocated to different asset classes, such as stocks, bonds, cash, and other investments. This decision is based on your risk tolerance, investment goals, and time horizon. A well-diversified portfolio typically includes a mix of different asset classes to spread risk.
  • Research and select investments: Conduct thorough research on individual investments within each asset class. Consider factors such as historical performance, company fundamentals, industry outlook, management quality, and any specific investment strategies or criteria you may have. You can invest directly in individual securities or use investment vehicles like mutual funds or ETFs to gain exposure to a broader range of assets.
  • Monitor and review: Regularly monitor the performance of your portfolio. Keep track of your investments, review financial statements, and stay updated on market trends. Consider using online portfolio management tools or working with a financial advisor to simplify the tracking process.
  • Rebalance periodically: Over time, the performance of different investments within your portfolio may cause your asset allocation to deviate from your desired target. Periodically rebalance your portfolio by buying or selling assets to realign your holdings with your target allocation. This ensures that you maintain your desired level of diversification and risk exposure.
  • Stay informed and adapt: Stay informed about economic and market trends, as well as any changes in your financial circumstances. Adjust your portfolio as needed to reflect changes in your investment goals, risk tolerance, or market conditions.

Remember: creating and managing a portfolio is a personalized process, and it's advisable to seek professional financial advice if you're uncertain about certain investment decisions or need assistance in constructing and maintaining your portfolio.

Types of portfolio

There are several types of portfolios that investors can consider based on their investment objectives, risk tolerance, and preferences. Here are some common types:

Growth portfolio
A growth portfolio focuses on capital appreciation by investing in assets with high growth potential, such as stocks of companies expected to experience significant earnings growth. It typically includes growth-oriented stocks, aggressive growth mutual funds, and sectors like technology or emerging markets. Example: A portfolio consisting of high-growth technology stocks like Apple, Amazon, and Google.
Income portfolio
An income portfolio aims to generate regular income through investments that provide stable or high yields. It includes assets such as dividend-paying stocks, bonds, real estate investment trusts (REITs), and income-focused mutual funds. Example: A portfolio consisting of dividend stocks from sectors like utilities, consumer staples, and real estate.
Balanced portfolio
A balanced portfolio seeks a combination of growth and income by diversifying across asset classes. It typically includes a mix of stocks, bonds, and cash equivalents. The allocation between these asset classes is based on the investor's risk profile and investment goals. Example: A portfolio with a 60% allocation to stocks, 30% to bonds, and 10% to cash equivalents.
Value portfolio
A value portfolio focuses on investing in undervalued assets that are trading at a discount relative to their intrinsic value. Investors using this strategy seek to capitalize on potential price appreciation as the market recognizes the underlying value of these assets. Example: A portfolio consisting of stocks of companies with low price-to-earnings ratios and strong fundamental metrics.
Sector-specific portfolio
A sector-specific portfolio concentrates investments in a specific industry or sector. Investors who have a strong belief in the growth prospects of a particular sector may choose this approach. Examples include technology-focused portfolios, healthcare portfolios, or energy portfolios.
Index portfolio
An index portfolio, also known as a passive portfolio or index fund portfolio, replicates the performance of a specific market index, such as the SPX500. It aims to match the overall performance of the index rather than actively selecting individual investments. Example: A portfolio consisting of low-cost index funds or ETFs that track a broad market index.
Risk-managed portfolio
A risk-managed portfolio employs strategies to mitigate potential downside risks and volatility. It may include investments such as hedged equity funds, options, or alternative investments designed to provide downside protection. Example: A portfolio that incorporates volatility-focused strategies to limit losses during market downturns.

How to measure a portfolio's risk

There are several metrics and measures commonly used to assess the risk of a portfolio. Here are some of the key methods:

  1. Standard deviation: Standard deviation measures the volatility or variability of returns. It quantifies the degree to which the returns of a portfolio fluctuate around the average return. A higher standard deviation indicates higher risk. By comparing the standard deviation of a portfolio with that of a benchmark or other portfolios, you can assess relative risk.
  2. Beta: Beta measures the sensitivity of a portfolio's returns to changes in the overall market. A beta of 1 indicates that the portfolio's returns move in line with the market, while a beta greater than 1 suggests higher volatility than the market, and a beta less than 1 indicates lower volatility. A higher beta implies higher systematic risk.
  3. Value at Risk (VaR): VaR is a statistical measure that estimates the maximum potential loss a portfolio could experience within a specified confidence level and time horizon. For example, a 95% VaR of $100,000 means there is a 5% chance of the portfolio losing more than $100,000 over the defined period. VaR provides a single number that represents the potential downside risk.
  4. Drawdown: Drawdown measures the peak-to-trough decline in portfolio value during a specific period. It indicates the maximum loss an investor would have experienced if they entered the portfolio at its peak value and exited at its lowest point. A larger drawdown implies higher risk and potential loss.
  5. Sharpe ratio: The Sharpe ratio measures the risk-adjusted return of a portfolio by considering both its return and its volatility. It calculates the excess return earned per unit of risk (as measured by standard deviation). A higher Sharpe ratio indicates better risk-adjusted performance.
  6. Tracking error: Tracking error quantifies the divergence in returns between a portfolio and its benchmark index. It measures how closely the portfolio tracks the performance of the benchmark. A higher tracking error implies higher active risk.
  7. Stress testing: Stress testing involves simulating extreme market conditions to assess the portfolio's performance under adverse scenarios. It helps identify vulnerabilities and potential losses during market downturns or specific events.

It's important to note that these risk measures provide different perspectives on portfolio risk and should be used in conjunction with other analysis and considerations. It's also advisable to consult with a financial professional or use portfolio management tools that could provide comprehensive risk analysis and help you evaluate the risk profile of your portfolio.


Q: What is a portfolio in finance?

A: In finance, a portfolio refers to a collection or combination of financial assets, such as stocks, bonds, mutual funds, and other investments, held by an individual or organization.

Q: Why is a portfolio important in investing?

A: It is important in investing because it allows investors to diversify their holdings, manage risk, and pursue their financial goals. By spreading investments across different assets, sectors, and geographic regions, a portfolio can potentially reduce the impact of any single investment's performance on the overall portfolio.

Q: How do I create a portfolio?

A: To create one, start by defining your investment goals, assessing your risk tolerance, and determining your asset allocation. Research and select investments that align with your objectives, monitor the performance of your portfolio, periodically rebalance it, and stay informed about market trends and changes in your financial circumstances.

Q: What is asset allocation in a portfolio?

A: Asset allocation refers to the distribution of investments within a portfolio among different asset classes, such as stocks, bonds, cash equivalents, and other securities. It involves determining the percentage allocation to each asset class based on an investor's risk tolerance, investment goals, and time horizon.

Q: How can I measure the performance of my portfolio?

A: Portfolio performance can be measured using metrics such as overall returns, risk-adjusted measures like the Sharpe ratio, and comparisons to benchmark indices. It's important to consider the time frame, risk level, and investment objectives when evaluating portfolio performance.

Q: Should I actively manage my portfolio or use a passive approach?

A: The decision between active and passive portfolio management depends on your preferences, investment expertise, and time commitment. Active management involves making frequent investment decisions, while passive management seeks to match the performance of a market index. Both approaches have pros and cons, and investors may choose to combine elements of both in their portfolio.

Q: How often should I review and rebalance my portfolio?

A: The frequency of portfolio review and rebalancing depends on your investment strategy, market conditions, and personal preferences. Some investors review their portfolios quarterly or annually, while others may do it more frequently. Rebalancing is typically done when the asset allocation deviates significantly from the target allocation, ensuring that the portfolio stays aligned with your desired risk and return profile.

Q: Can I have multiple portfolios?

A: Yes, you can have multiple portfolios. Investors often have different portfolios for various purposes, such as retirement savings, education funding, or specific investment strategies. Multiple portfolios allow for better organization, customization, and management of different investment goals and risk profiles.

Q: Is it necessary to seek professional advice for managing a portfolio?

A: While it's not necessary to seek professional advice, consulting with a financial advisor can provide valuable expertise, personalized guidance, and help navigate complex investment decisions. A professional advisor can assist with portfolio construction, risk assessment, and ongoing monitoring, especially for investors with limited knowledge or time to dedicate to managing their portfolios.

Past performance does not guarantee or predict future performance. This article is offered for general information purposes only and does not constitute investment advice.