New Note Offerings Available Now!

Why Understanding the Sharpe Ratio Matters for Investors

May 18, 2024

Start Investing

Many accredited investors and family offices are familiar with the Sharpe ratio’s role in assessing risk. This blog post will enhance that understanding, exploring the Sharpe ratios practical applications to both reduce risk and increase returns.


Why should I care about the Sharpe ratio?

The Sharpe ratio is important because it helps compare the performance of different investments, taking into account their risk.

The Sharpe ratio shows how much extra return an investor could get for taking on more volatility. This can make it a key tool if you’re looking to improve your portfolio’s performance.

If you want to learn more about how the Sharpe ratio works, click here.


Where can I apply the Sharpe ratio?


1.   Risk Management

The Sharpe ratio can be helpful to evaluate the risk versus reward because it allows investors to see how much extra return they could be getting for the risk they’re taking on. This can be seen in the Sharpe ratio ranking system:


<  1                  Inadequate risk/return profile

1 – 2                Strong risk/reward skew

2 – 3                Very strong risk/reward skew

>  3                  Excellent risk/reward skew


In essence, a higher Sharpe ratio indicates a more desirable risk-adjusted return.

To explore different strategies for risk management, click here.


2.   Portfolio Evaluation

The Sharpe ratio enables family offices and accredited investors to measure their portfolios’ risk-adjusted performance. By comparing Sharpe ratios, they can identify which portfolios offer the best target returns for their risk level.

For example, when creating a portfolio focused on Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) principles, the Sharpe ratio can highlight the risk-adjusted returns of different ESG investments, helping investors make well-informed decisions that reflect their risk appetite.

Imagine a family office considering various ESG investments for their portfolio. By analyzing the Sharpe ratios of these investments, they can assess which options offer the most favorable risk-adjusted returns, aligning with their ethical principles while maximizing financial performance.

Learn more about how ESG principles can impact your portfolio here.

3.    Goal Setting and Monitoring

The Sharpe ratio can also help investors set clear goals and track progress by setting target ratios for their portfolios. This allows for the monitoring of performance against these objectives and timely adjustments.

For instance, if an investor aims for a Sharpe ratio of 2 for their growth portfolio, you can regularly check if the portfolio meets or exceeds this benchmark, ensuring it aligns with their risk-reward expectations.

Digitized image showing racing figures trying to reach a finish line, for “Why Understanding the Sharpe Ratio Matters for Investors”

Are there any drawbacks to the Sharpe ratio?

A drawback of the Sharpe ratio is that it focuses on return volatility instead of “risk” in a broader sense. For example, an investment that has never faced losses but experiences variable returns could have a lower Sharpe ratio than an investment with more consistent returns.

The Sharpe ratio isn’t perfect, highlighting the value of financial advisors and investment platforms that can apply different risk management strategies to your portfolio.

Sign up today for our free, no-obligation investor account to receive personalized, professional advice.

Back to Insights