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One of the core principles of investing is to divide your savings across different types of investments (called asset classes). If you’ve ever heard the saying, “Don’t put all your eggs in one basket,” you’ve got the concept.

Asset allocation is the process of dividing the money you invest among different asset classes. The end result is an investment portfolio that balances risk and reward in a way that’s right for you. It’s a plan that you can use to guide the investment decisions you’ll make over the years. You can update this plan as needed if your personal situation or goals change.

  • Asset allocation is the process of dividing the money you invest among different asset classes.
  • The right mix for you will depend largely on how you think about risk as an investor.
  • Keep in mind the risk-reward principle of investing as you choose your asset mix. Adding stocks to your asset mix positions you to pursue higher returns. At the same time, it can increase the risk of potential losses.
  • If you’d like an investment team to set your asset mix and adjust your holdings to keep you on track, consider a portfolio solution. A portfolio solution is a mix of investments carefully chosen and managed by a team of investment professionals.
Equities Equities
Fixed income Fixed income
Cash Cash

These asset classes can be broken down further based on geography, industry and other characteristics. For example, we can divide equities into sub-classes by geography: Canadian, U.S., international and emerging markets. Holding a diversified mix of investments can benefit investors in many ways. Explore why.

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Can reduce the impact of market fluctuations on your investments. If one asset class is down, another one may be performing better.

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Can increase the likelihood you’ll achieve your long-term investment goals. Each asset class balances risk and return, growth and safety, in a different way. You can use your asset mix to fine-tune your exposures in different areas of the market and achieve a balance that will help you reach your financial goals.

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Can manage the risk of losses. When you diversify across different asset classes, you can create a mix of investments that offer a higher or lower level of risk. If safety is your top goal as an investor, for example, your asset mix can reflect that.

Every year, one asset class or sub-class will emerge as the top performer. The leader often changes from year to year. When you hold a mix of investments in your portfolio, you smooth out your investment returns over the long term.

Top five investment categories* each year since 2014

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As of January 2024. All returns are total returns in Canadian dollars, unless otherwise noted.

Download: Asset Class diversification ‘quilt’ chart

* How we define the investment categories

Fixed income Equities
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Balanced Portfolio represented by 2% Cash, 38% Canadian Bonds, 15% Canadian Equities, 25% U.S. Equities, 15% International Equities and 5% Emerging Market Equities.

Think of your investment portfolio as a pie you are going to divide up into different slices. Each slice represents a different type of investment. Each offers a different level of risk and potential reward. The higher the level of risk, the greater the potential reward.

The way you divide up your portfolio – the size and content of your slices – sets your asset mix.

Some plans can be geared more to growth, with more stocks – also known as equities – in the mix. Others are designed to protect the money you invest from losses, investing in more fixed income and cash. The right asset mix for you will depend largely on how you think about risk as an investor.

At RBC Global Asset Management, we offer portfolio solutions that set the asset mix for you. Some are target-risk solutions, like RBC Select Portfolios and RBC Global Portfolios. Investors can choose which portfolio is best for them based on their risk tolerance level, the time you plan to invest and your investment goals. This is called your risk profile.

Others are target-date solutions, which mean they manage the asset mix with a specific end date in mind. For example, with RBC Retirement Portfolios you can invest in a fund with a target date set for the year you aim to retire. With RBC Target Education Funds, you invest for the year you will start paying for a child’s post-secondary education.

For all these solutions, our expert investment teams manage your portfolio, taking advantage of short-term opportunities while keeping you on track for the long term. If markets shift, we keep you invested in the way that aligns with the goals of the portfolio.

To learn more about target-risk and target-date solutions, read Two ways to drive your investments.

select portfolios asset mix diagram en

Source: RBC GAM. Portfolio characteristics may change. For illustrative purposes only.

Very Conservative or Conservative investors

You tend to seek income and modest growth from your investments while avoiding the risk of losses. A typical portfolio will feature fixed income securities and a smaller amount of equities. This approach may be right for you if you have a lower tolerance for risk and are most comfortable with smaller shifts in the value of their investments. You will likely plan to hold your investments for the medium to long term.

Balanced investors

You likely seek a balance between long-term growth and preserving your investments, while looking to create modest income. More than half of your portfolio may be invested in a diversified mix of Canadian, U.S. and global equities. This approach may be right for you if you have a moderate risk tolerance and plan to hold your investments for the medium or long term.

Growth or Aggressive Growth investors

You likely seek long-term growth over avoiding the risk of losses or creating regular income. You tend be comfortable with considerable shifts in the value of your investments. A typical portfolio will hold a diversified mix of Canadian, U.S. and global equities. This approach may be right for you if you have a higher risk tolerance and plan to hold your investments for the long term.

To sum it up, your asset mix is how you set the course for your long-term investment success. By diversifying across different asset classes, you can help reduce risk and improve returns. When you set your asset mix, consider your investment goals, the length of time you will invest and your risk tolerance. This will help you create a portfolio that’s right for you and your long-term needs.

Market forces can shift your asset mix off course from time-to-time. This is called portfolio drift. Learn how to keep your asset mix on track. Or, talk to your advisor if you have questions about your asset mix.


Last updated: January 2024

Source: RBC Global Asset Management Inc.

Please consult your advisor and read the prospectus or Fund Facts document before investing. There may be commissions, trailing commissions, management fees and expenses associated with mutual fund investments. Mutual funds are not guaranteed or covered by the Canada Deposit Insurance Corporation or by any other government deposit insurer. Past performance may not be repeated. RBC Funds, BlueBay Funds and PH&N Funds are offered by RBC Global Asset Management Inc. and distributed through authorized dealers in Canada..

This has been provided by RBC Global Asset Management Inc. (RBC GAM) and is for informational purposes only. It is not intended to provide legal, accounting, tax, investment, financial or other advice and such information should not be relied upon for providing such advice. RBC GAM takes reasonable steps to provide up-to-date, accurate and reliable information, and believes the information to be so when provided. Information obtained from third parties is believed to be reliable but RBC GAM and its affiliates assume no responsibility for any errors or omissions or for any loss or damage suffered. RBC GAM reserves the right at any time and without notice to change, amend or cease publication of the information.