Portfolio rebalancing is a strategy popular among investors who want to maximize returns while minimizing risk. Rebalancing maintains a desired level of risk and return by periodically buying and selling assets to bring the portfolio back to target allocation. Active portfolio rebalancing strategy involves regularly rebalancing a portfolio of investments to maintain the desired risk/return profile. This article will discuss the pros and cons of active portfolio rebalancing and the circumstances under which it may be the best choice for an investor.

Benefits of Portfolio Rebalancing

Risk management

Rebalancing helps to maintain a consistent level of risk in the portfolio. When certain assets perform well, they make up a larger portion of the portfolio, this can increase the overall risk of the portfolio. Rebalancing can bring the allocation back in line to reduce the risk of the portfolio. Rebalancing helps maintain a consistent level of risk in the portfolio by buying assets that have decreased in value and selling assets that have appreciated in value.

Opportunity cost

Rebalancing can also help to capture potential gains in underperforming assets by increasing the allocation to those assets. When certain assets are not performing well, they make up a smaller portion of the portfolio. Rebalancing can bring the allocation back in line by increasing the allocation to those assets. This can help investors to capture potential gains in those underperforming assets.

Buy low, sell high

By selling assets that have appreciated in value and buying assets that have decreased in value, rebalancing can help investors to capture gains while avoiding losses. This investment strategy is also referred to as the "buy low, sell high" strategy. When assets have appreciated in value, they are sold and the proceeds are used to buy assets that have decreased in value. This can help investors to capture gains while avoiding losses.

Why is Portfolio Rebalancing Popular?

Portfolio rebalancing is a popular strategy among investors and financial advisors for several reasons. Here are some of the main reasons why:

Financial Advisors

Rebalancing is a popular strategy among financial advisors as it can provide a sense of security for investors that their portfolio is being actively managed. Additionally, many advisors charge a fee for monitoring and rebalancing client portfolios, making it a profitable service for them to offer. By regularly monitoring and rebalancing client portfolios, advisors can help to ensure that the portfolio is aligned with the client's risk tolerance and financial goals.

Modern Portfolio Theory

Rebalancing is rooted in Modern Portfolio Theory (MPT), which suggests that diversifying a portfolio across different asset classes can help to reduce overall risk. MPT is a theory that explains how risk-averse investors can construct portfolios to optimize or maximize expected returns based on a given level of market risk. Rebalancing is a way to ensure that the portfolio is diversified across different asset classes and aligned with the investor's risk tolerance.

Investment Strategies

Rebalancing is often used as a tool to implement various investment strategies. One such strategy is the buy-and-hold approach. This is a passive investment method in which an investor buys assets and holds them for a long period of time, regardless of market conditions or market volatility. Rebalancing aligns the portfolio with the buy-and-hold strategy by buying assets that have decreased in value and selling assets that have appreciated in value.

Another investment strategy is tactical asset allocation, which is an active approach that involves regularly adjusting the allocation of assets in a portfolio based on market conditions. Rebalancing aligns the portfolio with the tactical asset allocation strategy by buying assets that have decreased in value and selling assets that have appreciated in value.

Drawbacks of Active Portfolio Rebalancing

Despite its popularity, we believe that active rebalancing can be bad for investors in the long run. Here are some reasons why:

Taxes

Selling assets to rebalance a portfolio can trigger a taxable event and have tax implications. When an asset is sold at a profit, capital gains tax is triggered, which can eat into the overall returns of the portfolio. Additionally, frequent rebalancing can lead to more taxable events, which can further erode returns.

Interrupts Compounding

The first rule of compounding is to never interrupt it unnecessarily. - Charlie Munger

By selling assets that have appreciated in value, investors are interrupting the compounding of their investments. Compounding is the process of earning interest on interest, which can have a significant impact on long-term returns. By selling appreciated assets, investors are missing out on the potential future gains from compounding.

Expensive

Active rebalancing can also be expensive, as it involves trading fees and potential taxes. Each time an asset is bought or sold, investors must pay a trading fee or transaction costs. These fees can add up quickly, especially if an investor is frequently rebalancing their portfolio. Additionally, if an investor is frequently rebalancing their portfolio, they may also be subject to higher capital gains taxes.

Alternatives to Active Rebalancing

Buy-and-hold strategy

Instead of actively rebalancing, investors can simply hold on to their investments and let the market work its magic. This approach is often referred to as the buy-and-hold strategy. By avoiding frequent buying and selling, investors can avoid triggering taxable events and minimize trading fees. This approach is particularly effective in a long-term investment horizon as it allows investors to ride out market fluctuations and capture long-term growth.

Passive management

Passive management is an investment strategy that aims to match the performance of a benchmark index, rather than trying to beat it. This approach can be achieved by investing in index funds or ETFs, which are designed to track specific market indices. Investors can gain diversified exposure to a market or market segment by investing in index funds or ETFs, without the need for active rebalancing.

Rebalancing ETFs

Another alternative to active rebalancing is to invest in ETFs that automatically rebalance their holdings. This can help to minimize taxes and trading fees while still maintaining a desired asset allocation. These ETFs are known as "smart-beta" ETFs, which use a rules-based approach to rebalance their holdings based on predetermined factors such as stock market trends, market volatility, or dividends. Investing in ETFs can provide a tax-efficient and cost-effective way to maintain desired asset allocation without frequent buying and selling.

Actionable Takeaways

  • Be aware of the potential tax consequences of active rebalancing.
  • Consider the long-term impact of compounding on your portfolio before making any trades.
  • Consider the costs of trading and taxes before rebalancing your portfolio.
  • Consider alternatives such as buy-and-hold strategy, passive management or rebalancing ETFs that can help to minimize taxes and trading fees while still maintaining a desired asset allocation.
  • Consult with a financial advisor or tax professional to understand the best approach for your specific financial situation.
  • Use rebalancing software to minimize the tax impact of your portfolio.
  • Consider using a software that can automate the process of rebalancing and track your portfolio's performance.
  • Use a rebalancing calculator or spreadsheet to evaluate your portfolio's risk and returns.
  • Use rebalancing tools to track your portfolio's performance and make informed decisions on when to rebalance.
  • Use a rebalancing algorithm to optimize your portfolio's allocation and minimize the risk of trading.
  • Use a rebalancing strategy that aligns with your financial goals and risk tolerance.
  • Use a rebalancing portfolio that is diversified and optimized for your financial goals and risk tolerance.
  • Use a rebalancing ETF that automatically rebalance the ETF's holdings and minimize the tax impact of your portfolio.

Conclusion

In conclusion, active portfolio rebalancing can be a bad idea as it can be costly, lead to taxes and interrupt compounding. Instead of actively rebalancing, investors can consider alternative strategies such as buy-and-hold or passive management. Additionally, there are also rebalancing ETFs that can help to minimize taxes and trading fees while still maintaining a desired asset allocation.

Simple Portfolio Rebalancing Begins at Kubera

Creating an asset allocation strategy and rebalancing plan that takes your goals and portfolio performance into account — it’s a lot.

Kubera simplifies this small part of your life and makes finances more transparent and manageable for DIY investors. You can set a target allocation for your portfolio and get actionable rebalancing recommendations in the app. Kubera also lets you set custom granular targets for stock and bonds, real estate, retirement accounts, mutual funds and crypto in order to generate rebalancing recommendations.

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Request a Demo

Contact Kubera Sales
Manage wealth on your own?  Try Kubera Personal (14 days for $1)