Hand holding a mobile showing the N26 app cryptocurrency portfolio.

What is an investment portfolio? Creating and managing your investments

Making responsible and informed decisions about investing can unlock long-term financial stability. This article explains what an investment portfolio is and how to get started.

5 min read

An investment portfolio is one of the pillars of financial growth, allowing you to strategically make the most of your money. From stocks and bonds to real estate and commodities, a diversified investment portfolio can help you weather any stormy financial markets and stay on track towards long-term financial stability and prosperity.

This article will help you understand what an investment portfolio is, how they work, and how you can create and manage one based on your goals and risk tolerance. Let's dive in! 

What is a portfolio? 

No, we're not talking about your collection of past graphic design campaigns. In financial terms, a portfolio is a collection of investments held by an individual or an entity. An investment portfolio usually combines various assets such as stocks, bonds, and real estate. 

Ideally, your investment portfolio should have different components. That’s because the goal is to limit your losses and protect your profits, all according to your financial goals and risk tolerance. In case you need a refresher, read more here about why diversifying your investments is important.

Now, let's look at the components of a typical investment portfolio. 

Components of an investment portfolio 

An investment portfolio typically has a range of diverse, strategically chosen assets. Although the components vary, here are some common ones found in investment portfolios:

  • Stocks: Shares of publicly traded companies. Stocks have the potential for capital appreciation — that is, growing in value beyond what you originally paid — but also come with higher risk.
  • Bonds: Debt instruments issued by governments, municipalities, or corporations. Bonds pay interest periodically, which lets you make back your initial investment with lower risk. 
  • Real estate: Investments in physical properties or Real Estate Investment Trusts (REITs). Real estate can provide both income (by renting it) and potential appreciation over time. Here's what you need to know if you're buying a property.
  • Mutual funds: Funds managed by investment professionals. These funds allow investors to buy into a pre-existing portfolio of stocks, bonds, or other securities. By pooling your money with the other investors in the mutual fund, you can build a larger and/or more diversified portfolio.
  • Exchange-Traded Funds (ETFs): Similar to mutual funds, but traded like individual stocks on the stock exchange. Many ETFs use an index such as the STOXX Europe 600 or the DAX as a benchmark for the fund’s performance.
  • Alternative investments: Includes assets like commodities, hedge funds, private equity, or venture capital. These investments aim to diversify a portfolio beyond traditional asset classes, but they often come with higher risk and may have limited liquidity.
  • Precious metals: Investments in assets like gold, silver, or other precious metals.
  • Cryptocurrency: Digital or virtual currencies like Bitcoin or Ethereum that operate on decentralized networks using blockchain technology. They can provide diversification but are a high-risk purchase because the crypto market is very volatile, and it’s still uncertain how it will be affected by governmental regulation. Here's what you need to know if you're considering investing in crypto.

The right mix of these components depends on your financial goals, risk tolerance (as always!), and market conditions. Therefore, even though diversification is a key principle in building a well-balanced investment portfolio, it’s essential to monitor your portfolio regularly and make adjustments, if necessary. This ensures your investment portfolio stays profitable through market dynamics and changes to your financial goals. 

Types of investment portfolios 

Investment portfolios vary based on your investment goals, risk tolerance, and time horizon (when you'd like to use your investment money and its returns). Some common types of investment portfolios include:

  • Conservative portfolio: Prioritizes the security of the money that you put in. This kind of portfolio typically includes low-risk investments and is good for investors who aren’t as comfortable with uncertainty or major price fluctuations.
  • Growth portfolio: Focused on high returns. This type of portfolio invests in growth-oriented assets like stocks and high-risk/high-reward investments. It’s ideal for individuals with a longer time horizon and higher risk tolerance.
  • Income portfolio: Designed to generate regular income. This portfolio includes investments with consistent dividends or interest payments, such as dividend-paying stocks and bonds.

Review and adjust your investment portfolio regularly — that way, it stays aligned with your financial priorities.

How to get started with an investment portfolio

If you have your emergency fund covered and are ready to start building your own investment portfolio, here are some next steps you can consider: 

  • Define your goals and risk tolerance: Determine your financial objectives — for example, retirement, growing wealth, or buying a home — and how comfortable you are taking risks.
  • Educate yourself: Learn about different investment options and their characteristics. Understand the risks and potential returns of each type of investment.
  • Assess your financial situation: Take stock of your current financial standing, including income, expenses, debts, and existing assets. Can investments fit into your monthly budget?
  • Create an investment plan: Based on your goals, risk tolerance, and financial situation, develop a detailed investment plan. Outline how much money you’ll invest, which assets you want to invest in, your investment timeline, and expected returns.
  • Start small and diversify: Begin with a diversified approach by investing across different asset classes, like stocks, bonds, real estate, etc. Always consider the risks before making a decision!
  • Monitor and rebalance: Regularly review your portfolio's performance and adjust as needed. Rebalance your portfolio periodically to align with your goals and financial situation.
  • Stay informed and be patient: Stay updated on market trends and economic news but avoid making impulsive decisions based on short-term fluctuations. Investing is a long-term endeavor, and patience is part of it.

If you're uncomfortable investing alone, consider working with a financial advisor or investment broker, especially if you need more certainty about your investment choices or guidance in creating an investment strategy. Remember, the journey of building an investment portfolio is unique to you.


Your money at N26

N26 offers a simplified and stress-free way of managing your money. Gain a deep understanding of your spending habits with Insights and get a monthly snapshot of your financial health with your Monthly Wrap-Up, helping you to stay on budget. Plus, you can easily start setting aside money with Spaces to help you reach your short and long-term financial goals. Find the right account for you.

By N26

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