Discover the power of alpha investing and unlock the secrets to smart money decisions. Learn what alpha is, how to calculate it, and tips for successful investing in alpha strategies.

Are you in your twenties and looking to make smart money decisions?

Do you want to learn about alpha investing strategies but aren’t sure where to start?

Alpha investing is essential for young investors like yourself trying to maximize their returns.

It’s all about understanding how the markets move and using that knowledge as part of a successful investment strategy.

In this article, we’ll cover what alpha means, how it can be calculated, different alpha strategies, the advantages and disadvantages of these approaches, and some tips on successfully implementing them into your portfolio.

Let’s dive right in!

What is Alpha?

Alpha is a measure of an investment’s performance in the market.

It measures how much an investment has outperformed or underperformed compared to its benchmark index.

Alpha can be used as a tool for investors to identify investments likely to generate higher returns than their peers and the overall market.

Definition of Alpha

Alpha is a metric used by investors and financial analysts to measure the performance of an individual security or portfolio relative to its benchmark index, such as the S&P 500.

A positive alpha indicates that the security or portfolio has outperformed its benchmark, while a negative alpha indicates it has underperformed.

The greater magnitude of either positive or negative alpha shows more outperformance (or underperformance) compared to its benchmark index over time.

Benefits of Understanding Alpha

By understanding how much investment is outperforming or underperforming relative to its benchmark index, investors can make better decisions when selecting investments for their portfolios and take advantage of opportunities where they may generate higher returns than their peers or general markets.

Additionally, understanding alpha can help investors identify potential risks associated with certain investments so that they can adjust their strategies accordingly before making final decisions about which assets should be included in their portfolios.

Examples of Alpha

For example, if you invest in stocks with high alphas, you could potentially earn higher returns than investing in stocks with low alphas because they have historically outperformed their benchmarks over time.

On the other hand, if you invest in stocks with low alphas, your returns may not be as high since these stocks have typically underperformed their benchmarks over time.

Another example would be when comparing two mutual funds with similar risk profiles but different levels of alpha; one fund may have earned a 10% return while another earned 15%.

In this case, fund B had higher alpha since it generated 5% more return than fund A despite having similar risk profiles and investing in similar securities within their respective portfolios.

Understanding alpha helps investors identify investments that are likely to generate higher returns than their peers and allows them to compare different investments on equal footing, even though they might differ significantly from each other in terms of risk profile and underlying holdings within their respective portfolios.

Furthermore, understanding alpha provides insight into how well an investor’s portfolio is performing against its benchmark index, which can help inform decisions about rebalancing allocations among various asset classes for optimal future results.

Alpha is a measure of performance used to evaluate the success of an investment.

Calculating alpha can help you make smarter money decisions and maximize your returns.

The Gist: Alpha is a measure of an investment’s performance concerning the market, used by investors and financial analysts to compare investments on equal footing. Understanding alpha helps identify investments likely to generate higher returns than their peers and allows for comparing different investments with similar risk profiles.

How to Calculate Alpha?

Alpha is a measure of an investment’s performance relative to the market.

You can use it to determine whether an investor has made or lost money on their investments compared to what they would have earned if they had invested in the overall market.

Calculating alpha involves using a formula and understanding how it works so that investors can make informed decisions about their investments.

The Formula for Calculating Alpha

The formula for calculating alpha is as follows:

Alpha = (Investment Return – Benchmark Return) / Beta

Investment return refers to the actual returns generated over a given period, while benchmark return refers to the expected returns from investing in a particular asset class or index over that period.

Beta measures volatility, which is how much risk an investor takes when investing in any asset class or index.

Steps for Calculating Alpha

To calculate alpha, first, you need to find your investment’s return and compare it with its benchmark return over the same period.

Next, divide this difference by beta, which will give you your alpha value, and then multiply this number by 100 to get your final result expressed as a percentage figure rather than in decimal form.

This percentage figure represents how well your investment performed relative to its benchmark during that period; positive numbers indicate outperforming results, while negative numbers indicate underperforming results compared with expectations based on volatility levels taken into account via beta calculations.

Tools for Calculating Alpha

There are several tools available online that allow investors to easily calculate their alpha values without having to do all the math themselves manually; these include financial calculators and portfolio management software programs such as Bloomberg Terminal or Morningstar Direct, which provide detailed analysis reports including calculated alphas alongside other key metrics like Sharpe ratio and standard deviation figures etcetera.

Additionally, many brokerages offer free access to these services through their platforms.

Calculating alpha is an integral part of understanding how to make intelligent investments.

Knowing the formula, steps, and tools for calculating alpha can help you make better decisions with your money.

Now let’s take a look at different types of alpha strategies.

The Gist: Alpha is a measure of an investment’s performance relative to the market and can be used to determine whether an investor has made or lost money on their investments. To calculate alpha, investors need to find their investment’s return and compare it with its benchmark return over the same period, divide this difference by beta, then multiply this number by 100.

Types of Alpha Strategies

Alpha strategies are investment techniques that seek to generate returns above the market average.

These strategies can be used by investors of all levels, from novice to experienced.

Long/Short Equity Strategies

Long/short equity strategies involve taking long positions in stocks that are expected to increase in value and short positions in stocks that are expected to decrease in value.

This strategy is designed to reduce risk while generating returns greater than the market average.

Examples of this alpha strategy include hedge funds and mutual funds focusing on long/short equity investments.

Market Neutral Strategies

Market-neutral strategies involve investing in long and short positions across multiple asset classes or sectors simultaneously, such as equities, bonds, commodities, currencies, etc., intending to achieve consistent positive returns regardless of which direction the markets move.

Examples include arbitrage trading and statistical arbitrage trading.

Event Driven Strategies

Event-driven strategies involve investing based on specific events or catalysts such as mergers & acquisitions (M&A), spin-offs, bankruptcies, or other corporate actions like dividend payments or stock splits.

Investors use these types of alpha strategies when they believe there will be a significant change in security price due to an event occurring within a specific timeframe after it has been publicly announced.

Examples include merger arbitrage and distressed debt investing

Alpha strategies can be a great way to diversify your portfolio and generate returns in different market conditions.

However, it is crucial to understand the advantages and disadvantages of investing in alpha strategies before making any decisions.

Advantages and Disadvantages of Investing in Alpha Strategies

Advantages of Investing in Alpha Strategies

Investing in alpha strategies can be a great way to generate higher returns than the market average.

This is because these strategies focus on exploiting mispricings and other opportunities in the markets.

As such, investors who use these strategies have the potential to earn above-average returns with relatively low risk.

Also, alpha strategies tend to be less correlated with traditional investments like stocks and bonds, which can help diversify an investor’s portfolio and reduce overall risk.

Disadvantages of Investing in Alpha Strategies

While investing in alpha strategies has advantages, you should consider some drawbacks before taking this approach.

For starters, it requires a significant amount of time and effort to research potential investments and monitor their performance over time.

Additionally, due to their complexity, alpha strategies often require more capital than traditional investments, which may not make them suitable for smaller or starting investors.

Finally, since many of these strategies involve short-term trading activities or leverage products such as options or futures contracts, there is always the possibility of incurring significant losses if positions move against you quickly or unexpectedly.

Investing in alpha strategies can be a great way to maximize returns, but it is crucial to understand the risks involved.

In the next section, we will discuss some tips for investing in alpha strategies successfully.

Tips for Investing in Alpha Strategies Successfully

Investing in alpha strategies can be a great way to increase your returns, but it is essential to understand the risks involved and research the strategy thoroughly before investing.

Research the Strategy Thoroughly

Before investing in any alpha strategy, it is essential to do thorough research on the strategy and its associated risks.

This includes understanding how the strategy works, what type of investments are used, and what kind of returns you can expect.

It is also essential to read up on the past performance of similar strategies to understand how they have performed historically.

Additionally, ensure that you understand all fees associated with investing in these strategies, as well as any other potential costs or restrictions that may apply.

Understand the Risk Involved

Alpha strategies come with inherent risks due to their nature; however, there are some steps you can take to mitigate this risk.

First off, diversifying your portfolio across different asset classes will help reduce overall volatility by spreading out your exposure across multiple markets and sectors.

Additionally, setting stop-losses for each position will help limit losses if a particular investment does not perform as expected.

Finally, only invest money you are comfortable losing since no one knows exactly how these investments will perform over time.

Once invested in an alpha strategy, it is vital to monitor performance regularly so that adjustments can be made if necessary.

This means tracking key metrics such as return on investment (ROI), Sharpe ratio (SR), and maximum drawdown (MDD), which provide insight into how well a particular investment has been performing relative to expectations or benchmarks set forth at the inception date of the investment period/strategy implementation date.

Additionally, monitoring news-related events or changes within industry sector(s) where applicable could prove beneficial when making decisions regarding exiting positions early or reallocating capital from one position/investment vehicle into another more attractive option based upon current market conditions and sentiment analysis data points collected from various sources online and offline alike.

By researching thoroughly before investing in an alpha strategy, understanding the risks involved, and monitoring performance regularly, investors should be able to maximize their returns while minimizing their losses.

The Gist: When investing in alpha strategies, it is essential to 1) research the strategy thoroughly, 2) understand the risks involved, and 3) monitor performance regularly. By doing so, investors should be able to maximize returns while minimizing losses.

FAQs in Relation to What Is Alpha

What does alpha mean?

It measures how much better or worse an investment has performed compared to its benchmark.

Alpha can be used as a measure of risk-adjusted returns since it considers both the level of risk taken and the amount of return generated from that risk.

Alpha is often expressed as a percentage, with positive alpha indicating outperformance and negative alpha indicating underperformance relative to the benchmark.

What are alpha and beta?

Alpha and beta are two different types of investment risk.

Alpha is the excess return on an investment relative to a benchmark index, such as the S&P 500.

Beta measures how much an asset’s price fluctuates with market movements.

A high alpha means that an investor has achieved higher returns than expected, while a high beta suggests that the asset is more volatile than its peers.

By understanding these concepts, people in their 20s can make better decisions regarding investing and managing their money.

What is an alpha with an example?

For example, if the S&P 500 has returned 10% over the past year and an investor’s portfolio has returned 12%, then that portfolio has outperformed the market by 2%.

This difference, in return, is known as alpha.

Alpha can be positive (outperforming) or negative (underperforming).

It is used to measure how well an investment strategy performs compared to what would have been expected, given its level of risk.

What is the alpha formula?

The alpha formula is a mathematical equation used to calculate the expected return of an investment portfolio.

It takes into account the risk associated with each asset in the portfolio, as well as its expected rate of return.

The higher the alpha value, the better potential for greater returns on investments over time.

Alpha can be calculated by subtracting a benchmark index’s performance from an individual stock or portfolio’s performance.

This helps investors determine whether their investments are outperforming or underperforming relative to market expectations.


In conclusion, alpha is a critical concept to understand when investing.

By understanding what alpha is and how to calculate it, investors can better evaluate their investments and make informed decisions.

Additionally, there are various alpha strategies that investors can take advantage of depending on their goals and risk tolerance.

However, these strategies come with advantages and disadvantages, so investors must research before making any investment decisions.

With the proper knowledge and strategy in place, investing in alpha strategies can be an excellent way for Gen Zers in their 20s to start building wealth responsibly!

About the author

Chris Muller picture
Total Articles: 285
Chris has an MBA with a focus in advanced investments and has been writing about all things personal finance since 2015. He’s also built and run a digital marketing agency, focusing on content marketing, copywriting, and SEO, since 2016. You can connect with Chris on Twitter.