A newspaper ad discussing retirement portfolios and finance.

Portfolio returns are determined by: 1) the mix of assets in the portfolio 2) the currency they are held in and 3) the specific securities and property you have selected, in that order.

You divide the portfolio into four primary asset classes: equities, fixed income, alternatives, and cash. Equities (shares) are your growth engine, linked as they are to the growth of the economy; fixed income (bonds) provide stable income and diversification; cash is your emergency backstop and gives flexibility, while alternatives (property, gold bullion etc) include other assets that can play a part in keeping you safe. Investment property, in particular, adds to the growth component usually supplied by shares, and diversifies the portfolio very well because it runs to a different cycle to shares.

You move funds between these four categories depending on what type of market you are facing.

A strong economy would have a high allocation to shares or alternatives, whereas a weak economy would have outsize allocations to high-quality bonds and cash. A transitional portfolio might have allocations proportionately spread out among the four categories.

At every stage of the cycle, a number of key indicators have to be watched for early signs that the bull/bear market is about to end, and the portfolio is steadily altered to take this into account.

The shape of that portfolio is also determined by the profile of the client, which steers you towards a less conservative or more conservative mix, depending on your age, your personality and your goals.

Whatever the portfolio looks like, its performance has to be measured against its benchmark regularly, to see that it is not falling behind an economically acceptable return.

The costs and fees you pay to have your portfolio managed is a big deal. Passing your money through several intermediaries, advisers, managed funds and platforms, each taking a fee, results in a big leakage in returns that is compounded as you move through market cycles where returns are subdued.

For that reason, Glaser Portfolio service is based on low fees charged on the basis of an hourly rate.

All this is spelled out in my disclosure document, which can be obtained by emailing