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Portfolio Runoff


Portfolio runoff is a financial term that refers to the gradual reduction of assets in a portfolio due to sales, repayment, or maturity over a period of time. It frequently refers to loans or debt securities in the portfolio. The rate at which the assets decrease can help financial institutions to anticipate future changes in portfolio value.


The phonetic pronunciation for the term “Portfolio Runoff” would be: pohr-t-foh-lee-oh ruhn-awf.

Key Takeaways

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  1. Portfolio Runoff refers to the gradual reduction of assets in a company’s portfolio due to regular payments of the principal and interest by the borrower, or due to the sale of securities.
  2. Runoff can be related to both, asset-backed securities and insurance policies. For insurance companies, runoff can occur when it ceases to write new policies and only maintains the existing ones.
  3. While portfolio runoff can decrease a company’s future cash flow, it can also be a part of the strategy for reducing exposure to certain categories of assets or to exit a particular line of business.



Portfolio runoff is an important concept in business and finance because it refers to the gradual reduction of assets in a portfolio over time due to either sales, redemptions, or maturities. This is most applicable to portfolios containing investments or loans that have a finite lifespan, such as mortgage portfolios or mutual funds. Understanding portfolio runoff is crucial for financial managers to anticipate changes in cash flow, the asset’s value over its lifespan, and overall portfolio performance. It is also useful in risk management, where the timely replacement of assets or parameters influencing this process can help maintain the portfolio’s balance and yield. Additionally, having knowledge of the expected runoff can aid in strategic planning and decision making about future investments.


Portfolio runoff is fundamentally associated with the process in which a portfolio’s assets decline over time. This primarily happens when the assets within the portfolio, such as loans or insurance policies, are gradually paid off or mature and are not replaced with new assets. Consequently, the value of the portfolio contracts, affecting the overall investment value. In the insurance industry, portfolio runoff can be observed when policyholders decide not to renew their policies, and there aren’t new policies to offset the loss.The purpose of monitoring and understanding portfolio runoff is essential in asset management and financial planning. By forecasting the rate of runoff, financial institutions and investors can strategize their portfolio management and consider introducing new assets to maintain the portfolio’s value, or they can choose to let it runoff intentionally as part of their investment strategy. Additionally, the rate of portfolio runoff can also provide critical insights into market conditions. For instance, an increase in loan pay-offs could indicate a rise in interest rates as borrowers refinance to secure lower rates, while a high runoff rate in insurance might suggest increasing competition or customer dissatisfaction.


1. Mortgage Lending: In the world of mortgage lending, portfolio runoff refers to the process in which the overall size of a mortgage portfolio decreases over time. This happens as homeowners pay off their mortgages, sell their homes, or refinance their mortgages with other institutions. For instance, a bank may start with a portfolio of $100 million in home loans, and over time this number decreases, or “runs off,” as the loans are paid back or moved to other entities.2. Insurance Companies: Insurance companies can also experience portfolio runoff in terms of the policies they underwrite. For example, if an insurer made the decision to stop underwriting a particular type of policy (like pet insurance), the existing portfolio of pet insurance policies would gradually run off as the policies either mature, are canceled by policyholders, or are transferred to other insurers.3. Pension Funds: A pension fund may also have to deal with portfolio runoff. As beneficiaries begin to retire and their pension plans are converted into annuity payments, the fund’s assets decrease unless offset by new contributions or favorable investment returns. A failure to manage this runoff properly can lead to funding shortfalls or even insolvency.

Frequently Asked Questions(FAQ)

What is Portfolio Runoff?

Portfolio Runoff refers to the gradual reduction of assets within a portfolio over time. This can occur through selling assets, or as fixed-income securities mature and are not replaced.

What causes Portfolio Runoff?

Portfolio Runoff can being caused by various factors such as the planned sale of assets, loan payments, maturity of fixed-income investments, withdrawals, or other types of liquidations.

Is Portfolio Runoff a positive or negative event?

It depends on the situation. Portfolio Runoff might denote negative aspects, such as a decline in business. However, it could also be part of a planned strategy where funds are being made available for other investments or expenses.

How does Portfolio Runoff affect investment income?

As fixed-income investments mature and are not replaced, the overall income generated by the portfolio may decrease, affecting the overall investment income.

Can Portfolio Runoff risk be managed?

Yes, Portfolio Runoff risk can be managed through various strategies such as diversification, investing in assets with different maturity periods, or using hedging strategies.

What is the relation between Portfolio Runoff and insurance companies?

In the context of an insurance company, Portfolio Runoff refers to a period where the insurer stops writing new business and only maintains its existing portfolio. The company continues to service the policies until they expire and are not renewed.

Related Finance Terms

  • Amortization: This is the process of paying off debt in regular installments over a period of time.
  • Portfolio Diversification: A risk management strategy that mixes a wide variety of investments within a portfolio to minimize the impact of any single asset.
  • Maturity: In finance, this term refers to the end of an investment period for a financial product. For insurance policies and annuities, maturity often signifies the start of payouts to the policyholder.
  • Non-Renewal: A term used in the insurance industry which means not renewing a policy at its expiration date. It can significantly contribute to the portfolio runoff.
  • Lapse Rate: In the insurance sector, lapse rate represents the percentage of policies that are not renewed by policyholders. A high lapse rate can trigger portfolio runoff.

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