In Building Optimal Portfolios, Do Not Ignore Investors’ Emotions

14 Pages Posted: 16 Feb 2019 Last revised: 20 Feb 2019

See all articles by Prince Sarpong

Prince Sarpong

The University of Free State; Centre for Financial Planning Studies

Date Written: February 6, 2019


The field of behavioural finance points out various investor biases and heuristics which inhibit optimal investment choices and are sometimes deemed irrational. Although emotions are often viewed as anathema to sound financial decisions, there is a big emotional component that has to be taken into consideration when holistically defining financial goals. Investors have differing goals for investing. Portfolio theory should therefore not overlook these goals and its horizon should be expanded to offer investors with the best possible achievable solution by incorporating financially efficient anxiety reduction. A rational solution should therefore take investors’ behavioural shortcoming into account because investors do not simply care about risk-adjusted returns but the best returns that can be achieved for the level of stress they are going to have to endure over the volatile investment journey.

Keywords: Anxiety-Adjusted Returns, Goals-Based Investing, Loss Aversion, Mental Accounting, Prospect Theory

JEL Classification: G40, G41

Suggested Citation

Sarpong, Prince, In Building Optimal Portfolios, Do Not Ignore Investors’ Emotions (February 6, 2019). Available at SSRN: or

Prince Sarpong (Contact Author)

The University of Free State

School of Financial Planning Law
P O Box 339
Bloemfontein, 9301
South Africa

Centre for Financial Planning Studies ( email )

South Africa


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