Portfolio allocation models are a set of techniques used to manage and analyze a mix of investments. They provide investors with the ability to better understand their overall investments and the risks associated with them. By understanding the risk and return profile of their portfolio, investors are better able to take calculated and educated decisions on how to modify and optimize it over time.

These portfolio allocation models are created using a set of sophisticated algorithms and are usually implemented in a spreadsheet program like Excel. By employing mathematical principles and thorough analysis of a range of investments, such as stocks, bonds and other financial instruments, these models can provide investors with an insight into their portfolios and the risks and returns associated with each individual investment.


Portfolio allocation models are mathematical models that use the principles of optimization to analyze and manage diversified portfolios of investments. These models contain a set of equations and constraints that allow the investor to determine the optimal mix of investments to meet their desired risk and return profile.


Portfolio allocation models are an essential tool in any investor’s toolbox. They can help the investor identify the best mix of investments and the most advantageous portfolio layout. By utilizing these models, investors are better able to understand their portfolio and make educated decisions about its composition and performance.

Furthermore, Excel's ease of use and flexibility makes it a great platform for building portfolio allocation models. Excel provides powerful tool sets for constructing these models and for gathering the data needed to analyze them correctly. These models can then be used to optimize and adjust portfolios in order to match the desired risk and return characteristics.

Key Takeaways

  • Portfolio allocation models are mathematical models used to analyze and manage diversified portfolios of investments.
  • These models contain a set of equations and constraints that allow investors to determine the optimal mix of investments.
  • Excel provides powerful tool sets for constructing these models to optimize and adjust portfolios.
  • Portfolio allocation models are an essential tool in any investor’s toolbox.

Establishing Assumptions

An important step when building portfolio allocation models in Excel is to establish the assumptions that go into the model. Ultimately, these assumptions will inform the optimal allocation and inform the investor of the models returns. Two of the main assumptions that go into portfolios are the risk appetite and the time horizon.

Risk Appetite

Risk appetite is an investor's tolerance for losses in exchange for potential profits. Different portfolios will have different levels of risk, which will change the returns. As an example, an investor with low risk appetite would hold a portfolio which is invested in only the most secure assets, such as treasury bills, with a low expected return. Conversely, an investor with a high risk appetites may choose to buy riskier assets, such as equities, with a higher expected return.

Time Horizon

The time horizon of an investment reflects the length of time that the investor sees as optimal for achieving the desired return. Investors with a short time horizon may invest in assets that mature within a short period of time, such as certificates of deposit or treasury bills. Investors with a longer time horizon may take on more risk in order to benefit from the compound returns over a longer period of time, by investing in assets such as stocks and bonds.

3. Develop a Portfolio Model

Developing a portfolio model is the key to successful portfolio management as it enables investors to inform and update their decisions to have maximum gains. To develop a portfolio model using excel, the following steps must be taken:

a. Gather and log security pricing data

The first and foremost step is to gather the security pricing data required to develop the model. Investors should include the daily closing, high, low, open, and volume price data in their model. This data may come from a variety of sources including company websites and brokers. Once the required data is obtained, investors may use a number of Excel’s analytical toolsets like the ‘Analyze Data’ tool, which is a simple and effective way to log and analyze the pricing data.

b. Draw from financial theory

Drawing from the principles of financial theory is important when developing a portfolio model. Investors should familiarize themselves with the various theories and apply these concepts to determine the investments that are best suited for their risk appetite. Popular theories such as the Capital Asset Pricing Model (CAPM), Black-Scholes Model, Efficient Frontier Analysis and Monte Carlo Simulation are all ideal for portfolio modeling.

c. Calculate and adjust relevant portfolio metrics

The final step to building the model is to calculate the portfolio metrics like risk and return. Investors can use Excel to calculate metrics like beta, alpha, sortino ratio, Sharpe ratio etc. which helps to accurately understand the performance and risk of their portfolios. Investors can also adjust their portfolios using metrics like tracking error, which ensures that their portfolios are closely aligned to the benchmark they are tracking.

Modeling Approaches

When planning a portfolio and constructing an allocation, it can be helpful to model potential returns to create a strategy for portfolio development. Three common modeling approaches for portfolio allocation include single-period optimization, the hyper-efficient frontier, and simulation. Each of these methods has its own advantages and disadvantages.

Single-period Optimization

Single-period optimization is a modeling approach where portfolio allocation is conducted for one period. This method is relatively straightforward and can be used to help optimize the expected return from a given amount of money. The downside to this method is that it does not account for short-term risks or a portfolio’s behavior over time. Additionally, this method typically produces a narrow portfolio that is not diversified.

Hyper-efficient Frontier

The hyper-efficient frontier is an approach that uses a curve to represent the relationship between different portfolios and their expected return. On the hyper-efficient frontier, portfolios with higher expected return have higher risk. This approach is beneficial because it can help investors visualize the cost of taking on additional risk and easily find portfolios with an optimal return/risk ratio. The downside of this approach is that it can be difficult to create a detailed model using Excel.


Simulation is one of the most advanced methods for modeling portfolio allocation. This approach uses past data to create simulated portfolios which can then be tested for the future. With simulation, investors can see how their portfolios perform in different market scenarios, allowing them to make informed decisions about the potential for success. Of course, simulation relies on the accuracy of past data and can be time consuming. It is also important to note that it may not be suitable for some asset classes.

Rebalancing the Portfolio

Rebalancing a portfolio is a process that visually checks if that portfolio is still in line with the investor's asset allocation. It is a skillful way to ensure that portfolios are well-diversified and never overextended in any given asset class. Asset allocation models in Excel can be used to monitor and adjust for allocation imbalances.

Concepts and Techniques

The investment concept behind rebalancing the portfolio is to rebalance back to a pre-set asset allocation that takes into consideration the investor's individual risk tolerance, time-horizon and goals. The process works by re-adjusting the weights of the various asset classes to more closely match their original, desired allocations. Rebalancing may be done regularly or periodically, depending on the investor's goals, preferences and investment strategy.

Typically, rebalancing is done via any of several methods, including dollar cost averaging, periodic rebalancing, or threshold rebalancing. Dollar cost averaging involves purchasing new securities at set intervals, such as quarterly or yearly, regardless of what the market is doing. Periodic rebalancing involves rebalancing back to an allocation a fixed amount of time, such as quarterly or yearly. Finally, threshold rebalancing tends to include setting of target thresholds for when the portfolio deviates from its desired allocation by a predetermined percentage, such as 3-5%. Once the predetermined threshold is met, then the portfolio needs to be rebalanced.

Benefits of Rebalancing

Rebalancing offers many benefits that help manage risk. The key benefit of rebalancing is that it works to limit the impact of short-term market performance on asset allocation, allowing the investor to remain focused on their longer term goals and strategies. Rebalancing can also help increase diversification and investment returns, while still controlling and managing risk.

Rebalancing also allows the investors to maintain their asset allocation, which can help reduce investor emotions that tend to be associated with investing, such as fear of buying or selling at the wrong time. Finally, this process works to even-out the market cycle, providing a smoother return over the long-term.

Utilizing Excel for Portfolio Modeling

With its wealth of functions and data visualization tools, Excel is an ideal tool for building portfolio allocation models. The core features of Excel make it easy to track data and calculate portfolio weights, while other tools such as PowerPivot, Power Query and Solver allow users to expand the range of portfolio models available.

Core features

Excel's core features make it the perfect tool for financial modeling. Using data table functions and formulas, it is easy to calculate prices, Return on Investment (ROI), and other financial metrics necessary for portfolio construction. Moreover, the flexibility of Excel allows users to customize the methodology and data they are using, making it easy to incorporate their own ideas and preferences into the models.

Data visualization tools

Excel contains a vast array of data visualization tools to aid in the analysis and modeling of portfolios. With Charts, PivotTables and slicers, users can quickly gain insights into their portfolio performance and make informed decisions about their asset allocations.

Introducing risk analysis and forecasting features

In addition to calculating portfolio weights, Excel can be used to analyze risk and forecast expected returns. With tools such as Solver, users can optimize their portfolios for risk-return trade-offs and incorporate into the models tactics such as risk parity, implied volatility, and even Monte Carlo simulations.


Building a portfolio allocation model in Excel can be a great way to design a well-structured investment strategy that a portfolio manager or investor can use to make informed decisions. In this blog post, we covered a few different ways of building a portfolio allocation model in Excel, beginning with building a basic portfolio allocation model and then discussing the concept of Monte Carlo simulation and how to use it in Excel.

Overall, Excel provides a wide range of tools that are easy to use for constructing a well thought-out portfolio allocation model. It offers the ability to customize parameters, develop sensitivity analysis and use built-in functions to calculate financial metrics. Additionally, the use of Monte Carlo simulation allows investors to take into account different types of risk and volatility when making portfolio decisions.

Advantages of Building Portfolio Models in Excel

  • Flexibility to customize parameters and build complex models
  • Ability to conduct various types of risk and sensitivity analysis
  • Quickly calculate financial metrics with the use of built-in functions
  • Integrate Monte Carlo simulation to take into account different types of risk and volatility.
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