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Why Do You Need Rebalancing in Trading?

Adam Lienhard
Why Do You Need Rebalancing in Trading?

Rebalancing in trading is the practice of adjusting a portfolio’s asset allocations to align with an initial allocation that reflects an investor’s risk and reward preferences. Let’s delve into why it’s crucial and how the process unfolds.

Why rebalancing is essential

Rebalancing is an important practice for maintaining an optimal risk-return profile within an investment portfolio. As asset prices fluctuate, the original allocation of assets may deviate from the desired proportions, leading to increased risk exposure or reduced potential returns.

Rebalancing involves selling overperforming assets and buying underperforming ones to bring the portfolio back to its target allocation. This practice helps to mitigate risk by preventing overexposure to specific assets or sectors that have become disproportionately large due to market movements. 

How rebalancing operates

An investor might initially aim for a portfolio with 50% stocks and 50% bonds. Over time, market fluctuations can alter the values of these assets. For example, if stock prices surge, their allocation within the portfolio might increase to 70%.

Rebalancing involves selling some stocks and purchasing bonds to restore the percentages to the original target allocation of 50%-50%. Investors may also modify their portfolio risk based on evolving financial needs, such as increasing equity allocation for higher potential returns or boosting bond allocation for income requirements.

The frequency of rebalancing can vary depending on investment objectives, risk tolerance, and market conditions, but it’s often done annually or semi-annually. Rebalancing ensures that the portfolio stays aligned with the investor’s risk-return preferences, preventing it from becoming too heavily weighted in certain assets or sectors.

Common rebalancing strategies

Let’s explore some prevalent portfolio rebalancing strategies that investors and portfolio managers employ to sustain optimal asset allocations.

  • Calendar rebalancing. This is the most basic method. It entails evaluating the investment holdings within the portfolio at set intervals (such as monthly or quarterly) and adjusting them back to the original allocation.
  • Percentage-of-portfolio rebalancing. In this approach, investors establish specific thresholds (e.g., a 5% deviation) for each asset class. When an asset deviates beyond this threshold, they rebalance by buying or selling to restore the desired allocation. This strategy offers precision in maintaining target allocations but requires continuous monitoring and active adjustments.
  • Constant-proportion portfolio insurance (CPPI). CPPI dynamically adjusts the allocation between risky assets (e.g., stocks) and risk-free assets (e.g., bonds) based on market conditions. It provides downside protection during market downturns. However, it demands a clear risk tolerance and an understanding of market dynamics.
  • Never rebalanced. Some investors opt not to rebalance at all, allowing the portfolio to evolve naturally over time. It minimizes effort and transaction costs, but risk exposure may significantly diverge from the original allocation.

Conclusion: Rebalancing in trading

In conclusion, rebalancing in trading is a systematic approach to maintaining the desired asset allocation within an investment portfolio. By periodically adjusting the portfolio’s composition, investors can manage risk, capitalize on market opportunities, and stay aligned with their long-term financial objectives.

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