Benchmark-Driven Investment Strategy

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Written By
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Written By
Dan Buckley
Dan Buckley is an US-based trader, consultant, and part-time writer with a background in macroeconomics and mathematical finance. He trades and writes about a variety of asset classes, including equities, fixed income, commodities, currencies, and interest rates. As a writer, his goal is to explain trading and finance concepts in levels of detail that could appeal to a range of audiences, from novice traders to those with more experienced backgrounds.

In finance and investment, one popular approach is the benchmark-driven investment strategy.

This method involves tying the target return of an investment portfolio to a specific index or a combination of indices within a sector, such as the S&P 500.

The ultimate goal for fund managers is to outperform the chosen benchmark and generate higher returns (“beat the market”).

In this article, we’ll look at the core components of a benchmark-driven investment strategy and its potential benefits.


Key Takeaways – Benchmark-Driven Investment Strategy

  • Benchmark-driven investment strategies aim to closely track the performance of a specific benchmark, such as an index or a peer group, by replicating its composition and weightings. This approach provides a clear reference point for evaluating investment performance.
  • The primary objective of benchmark-driven investment strategies is to achieve returns that are in line with or slightly exceed the chosen benchmark.
  • By doing so, investors can minimize tracking error and maintain a level of consistency with the broader market.
  • While benchmark-driven strategies offer the benefit of simplicity and ease of comparison, they can also limit potential opportunities for outperformance.
  • Investors following these strategies may miss out on investments that are not included in the benchmark but could generate significant returns.
  • Therefore, it is important to consider the trade-offs and align the strategy with specific investment goals.


Strategic Asset Allocation

In a benchmark-driven investment strategy, the strategic asset allocation is generally determined by the chosen benchmark.

This means that the investor’s portfolio will be allocated in a manner that closely mirrors the composition of the benchmark index.

This approach ensures that the portfolio’s performance remains aligned with the overall market trends, while also providing a solid foundation for generating competitive returns.


Tactical Asset Allocation and Fund Selection

While the strategic asset allocation is delegated to the benchmark, the asset managers focus on tactical asset allocation and fund (security) selection.

Tactical asset allocation involves adjusting the portfolio’s exposure to various asset classes in response to short-term market fluctuations.

This allows the asset managers to capitalize on market opportunities and potentially enhance the portfolio’s performance.

On the other hand, fund selection involves choosing specific investments or securities that the asset managers believe will outperform their respective benchmarks.

This process includes conducting thorough research and analysis of each security, which allows the asset manager to identify undervalued investments with strong growth potential.


Tactical asset selection done in a way without deviating too far from the strategic asset allocation is often called “tilt.”

For example, if a portfolio manager expects an upcoming weaker period for the economy, he/she may choose to prioritize companies that have proven themselves and are consistent earnings generators (e.g., consumer staples, utilities) over more speculative securities like fast-growing, unprofitable companies.


Volatility Control

A benchmark-driven investment strategy may choose not to impose strict volatility constraints on the portfolio.

After all, one way to beat the market is to simply take more risk.

Investors with a higher risk tolerance and longer investment horizon may find this approach particularly appealing.

However, those with less risk tolerance will generally want something safer and more of a focus on preserving capital.



A benchmark-driven investment strategy means traders/portfolio managers will focus on outperforming a specific index or combination of indices.

By delegating strategic asset allocation to the chosen benchmark and concentrating on tactical asset allocation and fund selection, asset managers can potentially achieve higher returns for their clients.

As with any investment approach, it’s important to carefully consider individual risk tolerance, investment objectives, and time horizon before implementing a benchmark-driven investment strategy.