Portfolio Turnover

Annual Return

What is portfolio turnover?

Portfolio turnover is a measure of how often the assets of a fund are bought and sold by managers. The portfolio turnover rate is calculated by taking the total amount of new securities purchased or the number of securities sold (whichever is less) during a given period, divided by the total net asset value (NAV) of the fund. The measure is generally reported for a period of 12 months.

Key points to remember

  • Portfolio rotation is a measure of how quickly the securities of a fund are bought or sold by the fund managers over a given period of time.
  • The turnover rate is important for potential investors, as funds that have a high rate will also have higher fees, to reflect the costs of turnover.
  • High rate funds are generally subject to capital gains taxes, which are then distributed to investors, who may have to pay taxes on these capital gains.
  • Growth mutual funds and all actively managed mutual funds tend to have a higher turnover rate than passive funds.
  • There are certain scenarios in which the higher turnover rate translates into higher returns overall, thereby mitigating the impact of the additional fees.


What is portfolio turnover?

Understanding portfolio turnover

The investor should assess portfolio turnover before deciding to buy a mutual fund or similar financial instrument. After all, a company with a high turnover rate will incur more transaction costs than a fund with a lower rate. Unless the superior asset selection produces benefits that outweigh the additional transaction costs they entail, a less active trading position can generate higher fund returns.

In addition, cost-conscious fund investors should note that transactional brokerage fees are not included in the calculation of a fund’s operating expense ratio and therefore represent what can be, in high-portfolios. turnover rate, a significant additional expense that reduces the return on investment.


The turnover rate that a very actively managed fund could generate, reflecting the fact that the fund’s holdings are 100% different from what they were a year ago.

Managed and unmanaged funds

The debate continues between the defenders of unmanaged funds such as index funds and managed funds. A 2020 Morningstar study found that index funds outperformed growth funds of large companies about 68% of the time during the 10-year period ending December 31, 2020. Unmanaged funds have traditionally had a low rate of portfolio rotation. Funds such as the $ 410.4 billion Vanguard 500 index fund reflect the holdings of the S&P 500 from which components are rarely withdrawn. The fund has an annual rate of 3.1% which helps keep expense ratios low thanks to minimal transaction and transaction costs.

Although some investors avoid costly funds at all costs, by doing so, it is possible that an individual may lack superior returns that consistently outperform index funds. Seasoned fund managers who have consistently beaten the S&P 500 benchmark include Ab Nicholas, 85. The fund’s turnover rate averaged around 19.47% during the year ending September 30, 2020. Despite increased purchases and sales, the fund surpassed the S&P 500 each year from 2008 to 2020.

The portfolio turnover rate is determined by taking what the fund sold or bought – whichever is greater – and dividing it by the average monthly fund assets for the year.

Taxes and turnover

Portfolios with a high turnover rate generate large capital gains distributions. Investors focused on after-tax returns may be negatively affected by the taxes levied on realized gains. Consider an investor who continually pays an annual tax rate of 30% on distributions made from a mutual fund earning 10% per year. The individual forgoes investing dollars that could be withheld from participation in low transaction funds with a low turnover rate. An investor in an unmanaged fund who sees an identical annual return of 10% does so largely through unrealized appreciation.

Index funds should not have a turnover rate greater than 20% to 30% since securities should only be added to or removed from the fund when the underlying index changes its holdings; a rate higher than 30% suggests that the fund is poorly managed.

Example of portfolio rotation

If a portfolio starts a year at $ 10,000 and ends the year at $ 12,000, determine the average monthly assets by adding the two and dividing by two to get $ 11,000. Then suppose that the various purchases total $ 1,000 and the various sales total $ 500. Finally, divide the smallest amount – purchases or sales – by the average amount in the portfolio. For this example, sales represent a lower amount. Therefore, divide the sales amount of $ 500 by $ 11,000 to get the portfolio turnover. In this case, the turnover of the portfolio is 4.54%.

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