modern portfolio theory

Redefining risk: Modern Portfolio Theory and our attitude

by Edward Robertson   25 Nov 2016
[Note: this article was made the cover story for The Private Investor (formerly Exempt Edge) Issue 19, January 2017]

Fund manager Scott Vincent’s 2011 article “Is Portfolio Theory Harming Your Portfolio?” [1] is a compelling manifesto to support the position that knowledgeable investment can reliably beat the market.

His message is that Modern Portfolio Theory (MPT) dominates financial thinking, even though it is demonstrably faulty in real world application. MPT and its close association with large scale quantitative methods are deeply engrained in the financial services industry. This in turn has exerted a detrimental influence on our attitudes towards investment. It pushes us to accept very poor market returns, to over-diversify and water down our portfolios, and to confuse and cloud our view of risk.

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