Tue. May 30th, 2023

How Does Investment Duration Affect Your Portfolio?

In the fixed income market, duration is a key metric that investors use to gauge how sensitive a bond or fund is to interest rate changes.

In general, a bond’s price will change approximately 1% for every 1% increase or decrease in interest rates.


The time-to-maturity of an investment is a measure of how long it will take until the principal and interest are paid off. It’s important to understand this because it can affect your portfolio’s performance and risk level.

As you get closer to the maturity date, the time-to-maturity of a bond declines. This is because bonds with longer maturities pay higher interest rates than shorter-term bonds.

This is because the issuer must pay a higher rate of interest to cover the additional risk that a longer-term bond will face if market interest rates rise. This is one reason why buy-and-hold investors may want to invest in bonds with shorter maturities or use strategies to manage this sensitivity to interest rate changes.

Duration is also a measure of the risk that a bond will decline in value over time. It’s a bit more complicated than time-to-maturity because it takes into account bond coupons and the final maturity payment. However, it’s a useful tool for estimating how sensitive an investment is to changes in interest rates.

A bond’s time-to-maturity is also a factor in its price on the secondary bond market. As the bond approaches maturity, its price declines because it’s worth less than its purchase price.

In the past, investors have tended to hold bonds to maturity, even when interest rates are low. This approach can increase your portfolio’s risk level, but it can also help you achieve higher returns than investing in other types of securities.

Historically, most bonds with callable dates have been called before their original maturity. It’s often difficult to calculate the average time to maturity (ATM) of a fund when this is the case, so it is important to ensure that your fund reports accurately reflect your planned holding period.

When your average time to maturity is skewed, this can negatively impact the returns you earn from your investments. For example, if a bond with a term of 50 years has an ATM of 30 years and the fund’s reporting engine skewed the ATM to 20 years, your portfolio could lose 4% per year when market rates change.

Interest rate risk

The risk that the value of a particular investment will change as interest rates change is a common concern for investors. Some investments respond directly to changes in interest rates, such as bonds, while others have less direct responses, such as commercial real estate.

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Generally, the longer an investment’s duration, the more sensitive its price is to changes in interest rates. This is a risk that can be mitigated through diversification of bond maturities or through hedging using interest rate derivatives, such as forward-rate agreements (FRAs).

Investors with a longer investment horizon may prefer to invest in shorter-term bonds with higher coupon payments and lower maturity dates. These bonds offer a greater built-in rate of return to compensate for the added interest rate risk that the longer investment horizon brings.

In addition to interest rate risk, there are other types of risk associated with fixed-income securities, such as credit and liquidity risks. These are less important to many investors than interest rate risk, which can have a larger impact on the value of an investment portfolio.

Duration — the degree to which a fixed income security’s price is affected by interest rate changes — is the most commonly used measure of interest rate risk. A shorter duration will have a lower price sensitivity to rate changes than a longer one, which is why this measurement is often used in bond pricing models.

For example, if a bond’s duration is eight years, an increase in prevailing interest rates of one percentage point would reduce its price by 8 percent.

This is because a longer duration is more likely to experience a decrease in the amount of its coupon payment if interest rates decline and an increase in the amount of its coupon payment if rates rise. This is why investors with a shorter investment horizon may want to avoid bonds that have long durations and high coupons, even if they enjoy higher returns overall.

When calculating the interest rate risk of a bond, modified duration takes into account possible fluctuations in a bond’s cash flows, while effective duration considers only changes in its yield-to-maturity. Modified duration can be more useful than effective duration for traditional (option-free) bonds because modified duration reflects a bond’s sensitivity to its own yield-to-maturity, while effective duration measures the impact per basis-point of a yield change on a bond’s price.


If you’re a stock investor, the volatility of your investment can affect how much you make or lose. The higher the volatility, the more likely it is that your portfolio will rise and fall in value. It’s important to understand how volatile your investments are, so you can manage them properly.

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High volatility refers to periods where the price of a particular asset can go up or down dramatically in a short period of time, such as during a bear market. Low volatility, on the other hand, means that the value of the asset is relatively stable.

Volatility can be measured by the standard deviation of a stock’s returns. It can also be calculated by looking at the volatility of a stock’s prices over a set period, usually one year.

The standard deviation of a stock’s prices can be determined using historical data or by using the returns of other stocks with similar characteristics. If you’re unsure of the standard deviation of your portfolio, it is a good idea to consult an expert who can help you determine if your investment is risky or not.

Another way to measure the volatility of your investment is by examining its beta (b). This is a measure of how volatile your portfolio’s returns are relative to other stocks. The higher the value of your portfolio’s beta, the more likely it is that your portfolio’s price will move up or down relative to the average value of other stocks in the same industry.

A company’s stock price can be affected by factors outside of its control, such as economic conditions, a specific event, and government regulations. Companies in the oil sector, for example, can experience volatile stock prices if there’s a major weather event that causes oil to be more expensive.

Some people may choose to invest in less volatile assets, such as bonds, for a variety of reasons. For instance, if you have a long investment horizon, you might want to reduce your exposure to risk by investing in bonds rather than stocks.

As with all types of investment, the volatility of your portfolio should be based on your specific goals and needs. For example, if you’re planning on retiring in 20 years, you might want to invest in bonds that are less volatile than stocks because you need a safe place to put your money. On the other hand, if you’re hoping to gain significant growth over the long haul, you might want to invest in stocks that have been growing quickly.


A high tax rate can discourage investors from putting their money into an investment. This can have long-term effects, such as reducing the economy’s growth.

The effects of taxes vary by type of investment and are affected by the tax system in place. For instance, a tax system that favors housing over other investments likely will skew investment in this area and reduce economic output.

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Intangible assets are also vulnerable to taxation. The CBO finds that under pre-2018 law, the tax system favored investments in many types of intangible assets over tangible ones, such as patents and trademarks. The result was that the before-tax rate of return required to induce investment in a variety of intangible assets was significantly lower than for tangible ones.

Real estate is another important asset to consider when determining your investment duration, according to the CBO. It has the potential to increase in value, assuming you choose the right property at the right price.

You should always do your research before buying an investment property, especially one you intend to hold for a long period of time. It is important to understand the location and history of the property you are purchasing so that you can avoid making a bad purchase.

When you are researching an investment property, make sure to work with a real estate agent who can show you historic appreciation numbers for the neighborhood or community in which the property is located. This is especially important if you’re looking to buy in a new development.

Moreover, you should also know that if your property increases in value and you sell it for more than you paid for it, the gain will be taxed as capital gains instead of income. These taxes can be higher than those on income, so you’ll want to plan accordingly.

A good tax and financial advisor can help you create a well-balanced portfolio with the right mix of stocks, bonds and other assets to meet your investing goals and keep your tax liability to a minimum. They can also help you create a strategy that can weather volatility in the market and the effect of taxes on your investment.

Jeffrey Augers
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By Jeffrey Augers

Jeffrey Augers is a highly skilled and experienced financial analyst with over 12 years of experience in the finance industry. He has a proven track record of delivering exceptional financial insights and recommendations to clients, empowering them to make informed decisions and achieve their financial goals. Jeffrey holds a Bachelor's degree in Finance from the University of Michigan, and an MBA from the Wharton School of Business.