# Portfolio Optimization and Parameter Uncertainty

15 Pages Posted: 12 Feb 2024 Last revised: 13 Mar 2024

See all articles by Laura Kristensen

## Laura Kristensen

Fortitudo Technologies

## Anton Vorobets

Fortitudo Technologies

Date Written: January 30, 2024

### Abstract

Portfolio optimization has a mixed reputation among investment managers, with some being so skeptical that they believe it is almost useless due to the inherent parameter uncertainty. It is undeniable that portfolio optimization problems are sensitive to parameter estimates, especially the expected returns that are arguably also the hardest parameters to estimate. However, most practitioners still attempt to build mean-risk optimal portfolios, albeit in implicit ways. Resampled optimization is a popular mathematical heuristic to tackle the parameter uncertainty issue. It computes optimal portfolios using sampled parameter estimates and calculates a simple average of the portfolio exposures across samples. The unsatisfactory aspect of the resampled approach is that there is no mathematical justification for using the average of portfolio exposures, it just works well in practice. This article provides perspectives for understanding the resampling approach by analyzing the portfolio exposure estimation process from a bias-variance trade-off. We show that the traditional resampled optimization corresponds to a naive version of stacked generalization. Finally, we introduce a stacked generalization approach that can be used to handle both parameter uncertainty and combine optimization methods in full generality. We coin the new method Exposure Stacking.

Documented Python code that replicates the results of the case study is available in the open-source package fortitudo.tech. More information about the package can be found on https://os.fortitudo.tech.

Keywords: Portfolio optimization, parameter uncertainty, Exposure Stacking, mean-CVaR, tail risk, mean-variance, efficient portfolio, efficient frontier, mean squared error, bias-variance trade-off, stacked generalization, quadratic programming, convex optimization, Python Programming Language.

JEL Classification: C00, C01, C02, C58, C60, C61, G00, G10, G11, G17

Suggested Citation

Kristensen, Laura and Vorobets, Anton, Portfolio Optimization and Parameter Uncertainty (January 30, 2024). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=4709317 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.4709317