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What Is An Investment Horizon?

Haiden Holmes

Jun 17, 2022 11:53


There are numerous factors to consider when evaluating an investment opportunity, particularly when deciding how to allocate capital within your portfolio. The composition of your portfolio is determined by your investment objectives, risk tolerance, experience, and time horizon. This article will assist in defining the investment time horizon, identifying industry norms, and highlighting elements that may impact financial goal planning.

An investment horizon can greatly impact what you invest in, and investing with one in mind can make it easier to form and stick to an investment strategy. Here are some things you can ask yourself to figure out your investment horizon.

The period over which investors stay invested in an investment option is referred to as the investment horizon. This investment horizon decides their desired exposure to risk and income needs, all of which contribute to the selection of securities. Determining the investment horizon is one of the crucial steps an investor must take when creating a portfolio.

What is the investment horizon?

The investment horizon is the amount of time an investor intends to hold onto their portfolio before selling their shares for a profit. Different investment techniques have varying time spans, ranging from a few days or hours to decades. In general, a longer time horizon is more favorable to a riskier investment or portfolio of investments since it provides more time for the market to recover from losses and for the investor to earn a profit. Investing is, at its foundation, a balance between risk and reward; you may forgo access to capital for a period of time with the idea that it will be returned to you with a premium. Typically, the longer you invest your money, the more return you may anticipate.

Numerous variables influence the investment horizon of a person. Nevertheless, the key determinant is often the investor's risk tolerance.

Investment horizons are a crucial component of portfolio investing since they assist in establishing the length of time an investor will retain his or her investments in order to compensate for the risks incurred while investing.


Remember, as an investor, your choice of risk level and investment horizon will have a big influence. Ensure your short- and medium-term objectives are funded by safer debt investments. In addition to bank savings, liquid assets that may help you achieve your short-term objectives of a few months to a year are an excellent investment. For ambitions spanning many years, you may pick between short-term debt and bank savings. Equity is a wise choice if your investment horizon is more than five years.

When the investment horizon is extended, stocks provide a better risk-adjusted return than income assets of a fixed type or cash. In brief, investment horizons and stocks as an asset class tend to become riskier since they are associated with larger levels of volatility.

Technically, an investment time horizon is the required holding time before selling an investment. It is often associated with the length of time required to achieve a financial objective. It might be months, years, or even decades. Imagine a 35-year-old investor who plans to retire at age 65 and is saving for retirement. At this time, their investment horizon would be thirty years.

Types of investment horizons

Short-Term Investment Horizon

The short-term horizon refers to investments with a duration of fewer than five years. These investments are suitable for investors who are nearing retirement or who may soon need a big chunk of cash. Because they may be quickly converted into cash, money market funds, savings accounts, certificates of deposit, and short-term bonds are excellent alternatives for short-term investments.

As stated before, this investment time is optimal for those in their later years who are planning for retirement. It may also be suitable for those who have a great aversion to risk or who require access to a substantial quantity of cash in the near future. Typically, a short investment horizon does not exceed three years. For these risk-averse investors, guaranteed assets or securities, such as high-yield savings accounts and certificates of deposit, are optimal.

Medium-Term Investment Horizon

Medium-term investments are those held for three to 10 years, such as by individuals saving for education, a wedding, or their first house. Medium-term investment plans tend to strike a balance between high- and low-risk assets, so a combination of equities and bonds would be an appropriate method to preserve your money against inflation.

A medium-term investment horizon is more suitable for less risk-averse investors who do not need funds for retirement or a significant purchase. The ratio of stocks to bonds should be based on a person's personal requirements.

Long-Term Investment Horizon

The long-term investment horizon is for holding investments for ten or twenty years, or even longer. The most prevalent kind of long-term investment in retirement savings. Typically, long-term investors are ready to accept bigger risks in exchange for greater returns.

In most instances, a long-term investor's portfolio consists mostly of high-yielding, high-risk investments. The balance of the portfolio should consist of a mixture of stocks and bonds, with a greater emphasis on equities.

Each investor must evaluate the level of risk they are willing and able to assume, as well as the period of time they can dedicate to preserving their portfolio before having to withdraw their earnings. These main factors influence the investor's investment horizon, which in turn impacts the assets they choose to include in their investment portfolio.

Example of investment horizon

Mr. M, a retired individual, receives a substantial sum upon retirement, all of which he puts in long-term fixed-income securities and uses to purchase a new house. As a result, the time restriction is lengthy, i.e., more than 20 years and the returns are likewise substantial, as the real estate business continues to grow, as are the returns on long-term fixed income instruments. Therefore, this is a long-term investment horizon.

Mr. A, a state government employee, began investing in 457 plans given by state governments, which is a medium-term investment with a modest investment of return. Therefore, the strategy is a medium-term plan.


Mr. Y, an investor, has had spare cash for many years, and therefore he invested in a two-year fixed deposit. Due to the minimal risk, return, and investment time, this plan is considered a short-term investment strategy.

Mr. B, a government employee, contributes to the pension fund in order to save for retirement. The kind of investment is regarded to have a long-term investment horizon since the risk is modest and the investment duration is lengthy, hence offering the possibility of bigger returns.

Why is the investment horizon important for financial planning?

Selecting the optimal investment strategy is not an easy process. How can you be certain that the investments you've picked will lead you where you want to go? Not matching the timetable of their objectives with their investment kinds is one of the worst errors an investor can make. This is why investment time horizons are so crucial.

Investment time horizon refers to the length of time that an investment will be kept until the capital is required. Your time horizons determine your investment portfolio. The longer a portfolio's time horizon, the riskier it will typically be. Typically, risk in this sense refers to exposure to the stock market through individual equities or equity mutual funds. A longer time horizon gives the portfolio more time to recover if the stock market suffers a decline.

Time horizon is essential since it determines how much you must save or invest to accomplish a certain objective.

A strategic financial strategy includes both long-term and short-term objectives. Your retirement savings strategy will vary from your strategy for purchasing a new yacht in time for summer vacation.

Your plan may incorporate three asset classes: stocks, bonds, and cash. Your portfolio may consist of a variety of these assets, and a financial adviser can propose the allocation that corresponds most closely with your aim.

Factors that influence investment horizon

Age is the only time to consider when determining an investment horizon. When considering one of the most common financial goals, retirement, the time for risk exposure and the possibility for compounding returns are dramatically different for a younger investor seeking to begin investing compared to an older investor. In addition to retirement, additional examples of particular financial goals that may be mapped to an investment time horizon include acquiring a home or automobile, paying for a wedding, or reducing debt. We may infer that you may have various actionable time horizons when properly arranging your investments.

Once investors have determined their investment objectives, they may develop a strategy to achieve them by evaluating their existing income and financial responsibilities. The progress of a profession, better pay, or the expansion of a company, if the individual is self-employed, may generate more revenue, which may shorten the time required to reach a financial objective. Inversely, a rise in expenditure or unanticipated costs might postpone the achievement of your financial objectives. With the proliferation of online budgeting programs that assist monitor spending and planning for purchases, you may evaluate the possible timing to achieve your financial objectives depending on hypothetical circumstances.


In addition to your risk aversion, your risk tolerance may influence your time horizon for achieving your financial objectives. Risk is often divided into idiosyncratic risk (sometimes known as "unsystematic" risk) and systematic risk. Idiosyncratic risk is the unique risk associated with investing in a particular asset or firm, and systematic risk is the broad overall market risk (i.e., interest rate). Diversifying a portfolio or considering the addition of non-correlated assets, such as real estate, is one strategy to decrease idiosyncratic risk.

The duration of time an investor is willing to keep an investment may also be affected by external variables such as market movements. A person with a long-term investment horizon, for time, can see a recession as an opportunity to deploy cash or commercial real estate assets at a discount relative to previous levels. In contrast, if your leave coincides with a recession, you may opt to hang on to your investment longer than you originally intended since the asset's worth may not be completely represented in the selling price.

What effects does investment horizon have on mutual funds?

The time period and risk element impact the mutual fund's investment. In general, it invests in mutual funds in accordance with the requirements of its clients; it invests in short-term, medium-term, and long-term plans. Mutual funds are also classed as short-term and long-term plans, similar to investment plans. Individuals who want to invest in mutual funds may also invest via investment vistas, which are regarded as investment-safe.

In addition to approaching the managers of this horizon for investment in mutual funds, mutual fund firms also approach them, and it generates revenue for mutual fund firms.

What impact do investment horizons have on a portfolio?

If you want your investment portfolio to be adequately diversified, you must ensure that it contains a variety of asset types. With a longer investment horizon, you can take on greater risk since the market has enough time to recover.

If you are considering investments with a time horizon of more than ten years, then a considerable percentage of your portfolio should be allocated to equity investments. You may allocate a larger proportion of your portfolio to riskier assets, even within the equities asset class. This may comprise small-cap, mid-cap, and foreign equities. In general, between 70 and 100 percent of your long-term investment portfolios should consist of stocks and the remainder of fixed-income investments.

As the time horizon shrinks, portfolio modifications may be performed on an as-needed basis. Thus, you may shift more of your portfolio from equities investments to fixed-income investments.

Fixed-income investments provide a degree of principle stability but with a substantially lower return over the long term. If you have a medium-term investment horizon, you should allocate between 30 and 70 percent of your portfolio to stocks, and the remainder may be invested in fixed-income securities.

In portfolios with a short-term investment horizon, allocate between 70 and 100 percent of your assets to fixed income and the remainder to equities.

To reduce risk as you conclude your investment horizon, you must allocate most of your investments to fixed-income investments. This will safeguard your portfolio against a significant decline in the stock markets and preserve your capital.

Investment horizon for other investments

Certain investment alternatives have their own time horizons built into their structures. As small-cap stocks are notoriously hazardous, stocks are appropriate for the long-term investor. As small-cap companies are notoriously hazardous, stocks are suited for investors with a long-term perspective.

A bond has an associated maturity date, and once it reaches maturity, the investment returns the par value of your investment.

Additionally, Certificates of Deposit (CDs) possess a maturity date. CDs, like bonds, provide investors the par value at maturity.

In the event of a fixed annuity, the insurance company determines the time of interest payments to the annuity holder. The owner can choose to continue with the increased interest rate or terminate the contract at the time of the term. Mutual fund investments are subject to market risk; read guidelines carefully prior to investing.

Alternative investments are often more illiquid than conventional investments, and thus they are only suited for investors ready to invest capital over an extended period.

For example, venture capital funds generally have a ten-year lifespan. Investors pledge a set amount of funds to a venture capital company, which invests it with other fund contributors over the next decade. While investors may receive distributions throughout this time, depending on the fund's departure events, they join the fund with the knowledge that they may not have access to their investments for a number of years.

Real estate is another alternative investment requiring a longer-strategy investment time. Historically, the real estate industry has provided lucrative possibilities for those prepared to wait for a hot market. The rising price of a property in the United States after the recovery from the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic demonstrates that there is money to be gained by selling a home in 2021 as opposed to 2019. The same applies to institutional investors, who retain real estate investments for an average of 7.6 years.

Numerous aspects of real estate preclude it from being a quick-return investment, such as complex financing and lengthy lease agreements. Due to these factors, only long-time investors should consider adding real estate investments to their portfolios.


Investment Horizon describes the time of an investment's existence. Also known as the time horizon. If the time of deposit is short on this horizon, the funds are invested in secure assets with lower yields. If the deposit time is modest and the money is invested in mutual funds, stocks, derivatives, etc., the returns will likewise be reasonable. Suppose the investment is held for a longer period of the horizon. In that case, the funds are invested in riskier assets such as foreign exchange, hedge funds, and real estate investment, and the returns are also larger.