Why is Portfolio Diversification Important?

January 08, 2016 | Mike Spychalski, CAIA, Vice President

This week’s Chart of the Week shows what is commonly referred to as a “Periodic Table of Investment Returns.” It is a table showing historic calendar year returns for various asset classes ranked in order of performance from best to worst. One of the key takeaways from this table is that 2015 was a particularly challenging year for investment returns. With the exception of real estate, there were no major asset classes that posted double-digit gains in 2015, and except for emerging market equities, there were no major asset classes that posted double-digit losses for the year. In an environment where most asset classes posted low single-digit returns for the year (either positive or negative), it was extremely difficult for diversified portfolios to achieve their target rates of return in 2015.

The other key takeaway from this table is the importance of diversification within a portfolio. As seen in the table, there has been very little consistency in the best and worst performing asset class from year to year. In fact, since 2007 just about every asset class that was the best performing asset class for a year was also the worst performing asset class for a year during this time frame. Just because an asset class performs well in one year it will not necessarily perform well the next, and just because an asset class performs poorly in one year it will not necessarily perform poorly again the next. This illustrates the importance of adhering to strategic asset allocation targets and rebalancing portfolios back to targets over time.

1Represents YTD return as of 9/30/15.  4Q 2015 returns are not yet available.
2Represents YTD return as of 11/30/15.  December 2015 returns are not yet available.

Asset Class Benchmark
Large Cap Russell 1000
Mid Cap Russell Mid Cap
Small Cap Russell 2000
Core Fixed Barclays US Agg Bond
High Yield Barclays US Corporate High Yield
Bank Loans Credit Suisse Leveraged Loan
Developed Lg Cap MSCI EAFE
Developed Sm Cap MSCI EAFE Small Cap
Emerging Markets MSCI EM
Real Estate NFI
Hedge Funds HFRI FOF: Diversified Index
Private Equity Cambridge All PE

Mike Spychalski, CAIA
Vice President

Get to Know Mike

Related Content

This chart description is for illustrative purposes only and its accuracy cannot be guaranteed. Please see full disclosures at end of PDF document in the web post. General description: Combination column and line chart comparing recent holiday spending by U.S. consumers. Chart subtitle: Spending is on track to reach record levels this holiday season, despite mounting economic pressures faced by American consumers. Chart source: Adobe Analytics and CNN Business as of October 31, 2023. Chart description: Left Y-axis is labeled “Spending” and ranges from $0B to $250B. Right Y-axis is labeled “YoY Growth” and ranges from 0% to 50%. X-axis labels each column: 2019, 2020, 2021, 2022, and 2023 (Projected). Holiday Spending by U.S. Consumers is plotted in dark teal columns. Holiday Spending Growth is plotted with light purple line and markers. 2019 saw $143B in spending and 13.1% YoY growth; 2020 $188B, 32.1%; 2021 $205B, 8.7%; 2022 $212B, 3.5%, and 2023 is projected at $222B and 4.8%. End chart description. See disclosures at end of document.

11.30.2023

‘Tis the Season to Spend!

The holiday spending frenzy is well underway as some of the biggest shopping days of the year, including Black Friday…

11.16.2023

The Taming of the VIX

October proved tumultuous for investors as all major U.S. equity indices were negative and the CBOE VIX Index, which serves…

This chart description is for illustrative purposes only and its accuracy cannot be guaranteed. Please see full disclosures at end of PDF document in the web post. General description: Combination stacked column and line chart comparing unrealized gains/losses with effective federal funds rate. Chart subtitle: Unrealized losses across depository institutions have increased in recent quarters thanks to higher interest rates. Chart source: Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation and Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis as of June 30, 2023. Chart description: Left Y-axis is labeled “Unrealized Gains/Losses” and ranges from -$800B to +$800B, corresponding to stacked columns. Right Y-axis is labeled “Rate” and ranges from -6% to +6%, corresponding to line. X-axis ranges from 1Q08 to 2Q23; labels are at 3-quarter increments to fit so last label is for 1Q23. Available-For-Sale Securities are plotted in dark green base of stacked columns; Held-To-Maturity Securities are plotted in lighter green as second half of column. Effect Federal Funds Rate line is plotted in light blue. Unrealized losses are at significant levels for chart losses; since the fed funds rate has increased since 1Q22, losses have totaled over $300B. Most recent datapoints, as of 2Q23 are as follows: Available-For-Sale Securities at -$248.9B, Held-To-Maturity Securities at -$309.6B, and Effective Federal Funds Rate at 5.3%. Please contact us for the full dataset. End chart description. See disclosures at end of document.

11.08.2023

Realizing the Impact of Unrealized Losses

Earlier this year, the regional banking crisis and eventual collapses of Silicon Valley Bank, Signature Bank, First Republic Bank, and…

This chart description is for illustrative purposes only and its accuracy cannot be guaranteed. Please see full disclosures at end of PDF document in the web post. General description: Three-line chart showing cumulative return for various U.S. equity indices. Chart subtitle: Domestic stock indices enter correction territory after recent slide. Chart source: Bloomberg as of October 31, 2023. Chart description: Y-axis is labeled “Cumulative Return” and ranges from -15% to +10%. X-axis is labeled in monthly increments, from Jun-23 to Oct-23. Data ranges 6/30/23 through 10/31/23. S&P 500 Index is plotted in orange line, Nasdaq-100 Index in light tan line, and Russell 2000 Index in dark purple line. Most recent data points, respectively, -5.31%, -4.84%, -11.61%. Please contact us for the full dataset. End chart description. See disclosures at end of document.

11.01.2023

The Chart for Red October

U.S. equities declined for the third consecutive month in October amid an environment of higher yields and underwhelming earnings reports…

10.13.2023

3Q 2023 Market Insights Video

This video is a recording of a live webinar held on October 26 by Marquette’s research team, featuring in-depth analysis…

10.26.2023

Portfolio Trick or Treat

Coming into 2023, investors were cautiously optimistic about 2023 market returns; cautious considering the broad losses across asset classes during…

More articles

Subscribe to Research Email Alerts

Research Email Alert Subscription

Research alerts keep you updated on our latest research publications. Simply enter your contact information, choose the research alerts you would like to receive and click Subscribe. Alerts will be sent as research is published.

We respect your privacy. We will never share or sell your information.

Thank You

We appreciate your interest in Marquette Associates.

If you have questions or need further information, please contact us directly and we will respond to your inquiry within 24 hours.

Contact Us >