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Risk Parity


Risk Parity is a portfolio allocation strategy based on allocating risk, rather than money, across different assets in an investment portfolio. In other words, assets are assigned in a way that each contributes an equal amount of risk to the portfolio. This approach aims to enhance diversification and minimize exposure to market volatility.


The phonetics for “Risk Parity” are “rɪsk pærɪti”.

Key Takeaways

  1. Diversification: One of the main principles of Risk Parity is diversification. This strategy aims to balance the risk across all assets in a portfolio, rather than focusing on the allocation of capital. It typically involves the use of leverage to magnify the returns of lower-risk assets in the portfolio.
  2. Risk Management: Risk Parity is highly reliant on effective risk management. The strategy is based around the idea that all assets in the portfolio should contribute equally to overall risk. This requires sophisticated risk measuring tools and often complex mathematical models.
  3. Performance: The Risk Parity strategy has proven to be successful in various market environments. However, the performance of Risk Parity is heavily dependent on the correlation and volatility of the asset classes, and it could be jeopardized when coinciding with low nominal interest rates and deflationary shocks. Therefore, the actual returns may vary significantly from the expected returns, especially in times of market stress.


Risk parity is an important concept in finance because it ensures that the risk of an investment portfolio is balanced across all assets. Instead of investing more in assets with high expected returns, risk parity assigns equal risk to all assets regardless of their anticipated performance. This strategy reduces the dependency on a single asset’s performance and spreads the potential losses across a range of investments. Therefore, if one asset fails to perform as expected, the overall impact on the portfolio is limited. This approach helps mitigate risk and volatility, making it an effective strategy for long-term investment growth and stability.


Risk Parity is a portfolio diversification strategy leveraged in the finance sector that aims to balance the distribution of risk across all assets in a portfolio, rather than allocating funds according to the expected returns or individual asset classes. Its main purpose is to contribute to portfolio resilience and avoid concentration of risk, thereby boosting the possibility of achieving better risk-adjusted returns. In simpler terms, Risk Parity aims to adequately distribute and mitigate risk, which in turn helps in the stabilization of portfolio performance against market volatility.This approach can be applied across a wide range of asset classes such as commodities, equities, bonds, etc., and is effectively beneficial in both bullish and bearish market conditions due to its balanced asset distribution. Risk Parity is widely used by portfolio managers, fund managers, and other financial planners because it’s not reliant on predicting market movements. Instead, it focuses on adjusting portfolio risk levels in line with overall market volatility, aimed at reducing potential losses and increasing the possibility of more stable returns over the course of varying market conditions.


1. Pension Funds: Many pension funds around the world utilize risk parity strategies to balance their investment portfolios. For example, a pension fund may traditionally invest heavily in equities for their higher returns, but this also comes with greater risk. With risk parity, they would balance higher-risk equities with lower-risk bonds, aiming to decrease portfolio volatility and increase the consistency of returns.2. Bridgewater Associates: This American company used risk parity to create the All Weather Fund in 1996. By investing in a combination of stocks, government bonds, commodities, and inflation-linked bonds, they created a balanced risk portfolio that can theoretically withstand any economic environment. This fund was designed using the principles of risk parity – spreading risk evenly across different asset classes rather than trying to predict which will perform best.3. Endowment Funds: Many university endowments, like the Harvard Endowment, use risk parity strategies. Traditionally, they used to follow a 60/40 split of stocks and bonds, but after the 2008 financial crisis, they began to incorporate a risk parity approach. This approach allows them to diversify and mitigate risk, by not overly relying on any single asset class. This helps them to maintain steady growth and protect their funds even in economic downturns.

Frequently Asked Questions(FAQ)

What is Risk Parity?

Risk Parity is an investment strategy that aims to balance the risk allocation across various asset classes in a portfolio, rather than just focusing on the capital allocation. The principle behind this is to achieve portfolio diversity and minimize risk.

What is the main purpose of using the Risk Parity strategy?

The primary goal of Risk Parity is to provide a more effective allocation of risk within a portfolio, ensuring the investment risk is not concentrated in any one asset class, leading to better long-term returns and reduced chances of loss.

How does Risk Parity differentiate from traditional asset allocation strategies?

In traditional asset allocation strategies, a significant portion of portfolio risk tends to be linked to equities, even though they may not constitute the majority of assets. Risk Parity takes a different approach by distributing risk uniformly across different asset classes, reducing dependency on a single one.

What types of assets are part of a Risk Parity portfolio?

A Risk Parity portfolio can include a variety of assets types such as equities, bonds, commodities, alternatives, reits, etc. The key element is assessing risk contribution, rather than the type of assets.

With the application of Risk Parity, does the total risk of the portfolio reduce?

Risk Parity does not necessarily lower the total risk of a portfolio. Instead, it balances the risk evenly across all assets, which can lead to better portfolio resilience in diverse market conditions.

What are the potential disadvantages or criticisms of Risk Parity?

Criticisms of Risk Parity include its complexity, potential higher total costs due to higher portfolio turnover, and the argument that it might be based too heavily on historical data which cannot predict future market performance with full assurance.

When is the Risk Parity strategy most useful?

The Risk Parity strategy can be particularly useful in market environments where more traditional portfolios, heavily weighted towards equities, might suffer. However, it can underperform in strong bull markets.

How does leverage work within a Risk Parity context?

With Risk Parity, leverage may be used as a tool to achieve the desired risk balance by increasing the size of lower-risk investment to align its risk with that of higher-risk investments. However, the usage of leverage requires careful management, as it may enhance both potential gains and losses.

Related Finance Terms

  • Asset Allocation: The process of spreading investments over various types of assets (like bonds, stocks, commodities) to optimize balance between risk and return.
  • Portfolio Management: The process of making decisions about investment mix and policy to match investments to objectives, asset allocation for individuals and institutions, and balancing risk against performance.
  • Volatility: A statistical measure of the dispersion of returns for a given security or market index, often used as a proxy for market risk.
  • Equity Risk Premium: The excess return that investing in the stock market provides over a risk-free rate. This excess return compensates investors for taking on the relatively higher risk of the equity market.
  • Leverage: The use of borrowed money to increase the potential return of an investment. In the context of risk parity, leverage may be used to manage and equalize risk contributions from different asset classes.

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