Portfolio Management vs Wealth Management: The Key Differences

by Alina Khan

Published On Sept. 20, 2023

In this article

People save their hard earned money each month, but often get confused with all the terminologies or financial jargons related to how they should invest and manage their money. You may have just started exploring how to make your money work for you or you're feeling overwhelmed by managing your own investments, you might have begun researching different types of investment advisors and financial advisors to assist you in this journey.

A quick search online will give you several options from smallcase, to SEBI registered investment advisors, portfolio management services , wealth management professionals and more. All of these options give rise to some important questions:

  • How do you determine which option is suitable for your needs?

  • Do you even require their services?

Before we can answer these, it's important to understand what exactly these different options mean and what the differences between them are. In this article we will focus on what are the key differences between Portfolio Management Services vs Wealth Management?

In each of the investment management models we discuss, you can explore one of the following options:

  • Robo-Advisors : These automated platforms employ algorithms to construct and manage portfolios based on client preferences and risk profiles.

  • Active Portfolio Management : Portfolio managers actively trade securities, aiming to outperform the market or a specific benchmark.

  • Passive Portfolio Management : This strategy involves mirroring a market index or benchmark, seeking to replicate its returns rather than outperform it. Exchange-Traded Funds (ETFs) are a common example.

Defining Portfolio Management

Portfolio management services primarily concentrates on one's investment portfolio, which includes a collection of assets like stocks, bonds, mutual funds, ETFs, and other financial instruments. Primary objective of Portfolio Management is to maximize returns given the investor's risk tolerance, time horizon, and financial objectives.

Investment Allocation

If a retiree wants to mitigate risk, the portfolio manager may recommend reallocating funds from high-risk stocks to more stable instruments like fixed income, bonds, dividend paying stocks etc. Investment allocation strategies are important since it reflects investor's goals and risk appetite.

Tailored Investment Strategy

Portfolio managers will spend time understanding an individual's financial aspirations, goals, objectives etc. They then can customize a portfolio to ensure that asset distribution can mirror these goals. Typically, Portfolio Management Services is for people that have high net worth and can invest a minimum amount of Rs. 50 Lakhs or more .

Fund Selection

Some funds have higher fees, others may not offer optimal returns. Portfolio managers guide investors towards funds that align with their objectives and offer the best possible terms. Such as at Wright Research we have an Alpha Fund PMS that caters to highly risk seeking investors, Factor Fund Hedged PMS that caters to risky investors, Factor Fund PMS for balanced risk investors and a Debt Focused PMS for lower risk investors. Learn more about the fee structure.

Types of Portfolio Management

Discretionary Portfolio Management

Professional portfolio managers have full discretion and authority to make investment decisions on behalf of clients without seeking any prior or explicit approval for investment decisions and trades. Choice of investment and timing of investing rests with the portfolio manager

Non-Discretionary Portfolio Management

Portfolio managers give investment ideas and recommendations, but clients retain the final say on executing investment decisions in terms of deciding where to invest and when to invest. Once the client has decided, they inform the portfolio manager who then executes what the client wants.


Similar to non-discretionary portfolio management services, in the advisory PMS model portfolios managers only suggest ideas while the client is responsible for where to invest, when to invest and executing the investments as well. The portfolio manager is not involved in the execution at all.

Defining Wealth Management

Portfolio Management Service is a subset of Wealth Management as such Wealth Management encompasses a broader perspective. Think of wealth management to do with all things related to the financial well-being of individuals or families such as financial planning, estate planning, tax optimization, retirement planning, and much more. Similar to Portfolio Managers and other investment managers, Wealth managers also work closely with clients to create customized strategies that align with the unique financial goals, objectives, life circumstances, risk tolerance etc of the client.

Holistic Financial Planning

Wealth management looks at the overall financial health of a person. They create strategies for estate planning, tax optimization, and even future activities like planning for your child’s education, wedding etc.

Service Spectrum

Portfolio management looks at investment strategies to grow the invested portfolio, wealth management gives an array of financial services such as tax consultations, estate planning insights, giving to worthy causes etc.


Similar to Portfolio Managers, Wealth Managers also serve individuals and families with substantial assets. Their strategies are often custom-tailored, reflecting the needs and wants of high-net-worth individuals.

Types of Wealth Management Services

Investment Planning

Wealth managers assist clients in constructing diversified investment portfolios tailored to their goals and risk tolerance.

Retirement Planning

Wealth managers help clients plan for a comfortable retirement by creating strategies that include savings, investments, and retirement income solutions.

Tax Optimization

Wealth managers identify tax-efficient investment strategies and help clients maximize tax benefits.

Estate Planning

They assist in creating a plan for the transfer of assets to heirs, minimizing tax liabilities and ensuring a smooth transition of wealth.

Insurance Planning

Wealth managers evaluate insurance needs and recommend suitable policies to protect against unforeseen events.

Debt Management

They offer advice on managing and reducing debt burdens while optimizing available credit facilities.

Holistic Financial Planning

Wealth managers develop comprehensive financial plans that encompass all aspects of an individual's financial life.

Differences Between Portfolio Management And Wealth Management

Portfolio Management

Wealth Management


Primarily focuses on optimizing an investment portfolio. It deals with asset allocation, security selection, and risk management within the confines of the investment portfolio.

Takes a more comprehensive approach. It considers all aspects of an individual's or family's financial life, including investments, estate planning, tax optimization, retirement planning, and more.


Large Institutional Clients, Pension Funds, High Net Worth Individuals and Families

High Net Worth Individuals and Families


To maximize returns on the investment portfolio while managing risk in line with the investor's risk tolerance and objectives.

To help clients achieve their broader financial goals, which may include not only investment returns but also wealth preservation, estate planning, and a comfortable retirement.

Investment Types:

Primarily work with standard assets, building diversified portfolios.

A broad array of investment vehicles.

Services Offered

Focus is primarily on investment-related services, such as asset allocation, security selection, and portfolio rebalancing.

A wide range of services beyond investments, including tax planning, estate planning, insurance analysis, and retirement planning.

Client Engagement

Involves a more transactional and investment-centric relationship between the portfolio manager and the client.

Requires a more extensive and ongoing relationship between the wealth manager and the client, as it involves comprehensive financial planning and advice on various financial aspects.

Risk Management

Portfolio managers prioritize risk relative to investments, often using diversification as a primary tool.

Wealth managers look at broader financial risks, given the extensive financial landscape they oversee.

Example of Portfolio Management

Imagine you are an individual investor in India looking to grow your wealth through investments. You hire a Portfolio Manager who specializes in Discretionary Portfolio Management. You provide your risk tolerance, investment objectives, and financial goals. The Portfolio Manager takes full control of your investment portfolio, actively selecting and managing a diversified mix of stocks, bonds, and other securities to maximize returns while staying within your risk comfort zone. They monitor market conditions, make tactical investment decisions, and periodically rebalance your portfolio to maintain the desired asset allocation.

Interested in finding the best Quant & AI PMS portfolios in India? Learn more about Wright's top PMS portfolios.
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Example of Wealth Management

Now, consider you are a high-net-worth individual with substantial assets, a complex financial situation, and diverse financial goals in India. You engage a Wealth Manager who offers comprehensive Wealth Management services. The Wealth Manager conducts an in-depth analysis of your financial situation, including your investments, estate, taxes, retirement plans, and insurance needs. They work closely with you to create a customized financial plan that not only includes optimizing your investment portfolio but also addresses tax strategies, estate planning, retirement income, and insurance coverage. They monitor your entire financial landscape, ensuring that all elements work harmoniously to achieve your long-term financial objectives.

Key Elements of Portfolio Management

Key elements of Portfolio Management typically include:

  • Asset Allocation: Determining the mix of assets (e.g., stocks, bonds, cash) in the portfolio.

  • Security Selection: Choosing specific securities or investment products within each asset class.

  • Risk Management: Ensuring the portfolio's risk aligns with the investor's risk tolerance.

  • Active vs. Passive Management: Deciding whether to actively manage the portfolio or replicate the performance of a benchmark (passive).

Key Elements of Wealth Management

Key elements of Wealth Management encompass:

  • Comprehensive Financial Planning: Developing a holistic financial plan that addresses all aspects of a client's financial life.

  • Estate Planning: Creating strategies for the transfer of assets to heirs while minimizing taxes and ensuring a smooth transition.

  • Tax Optimization: Identifying tax-efficient investment strategies and estate planning techniques.

  • Retirement Planning: Developing strategies to ensure a comfortable retirement, including savings and income planning.

  • Insurance Analysis: Evaluating insurance needs and recommending suitable policies.

  • Debt Management: Advising on debt reduction and optimizing available credit facilities.

Considerations for Choosing Between the Two

When deciding between Portfolio Management and Wealth Management, consider the following factors:

  • Your Financial Goals: If you have broad financial goals beyond investment returns, such as estate planning, tax optimization, and retirement planning, Wealth Management may be the better choice.

  • Complexity of Your Financial Situation: If your financial situation is relatively straightforward and you primarily seek investment growth, Portfolio Management may suffice. However, for complex financial needs, Wealth Management's holistic approach is advantageous.

  • Level of Involvement: Consider how involved you want to be in your financial decisions. Portfolio Management often requires less client involvement, while Wealth Management involves ongoing collaboration with your wealth manager.

  • Cost: Wealth Management services typically come with higher fees due to the comprehensive services offered. Portfolio Management may be more cost-effective if you only require investment-related services.

Wrapping Up

It is crucial to understand the distinctions between Portfolio Management Services and Wealth Management. While Portfolio Management primarily focuses on optimizing investment portfolios to achieve specific financial objectives, Wealth Management takes a more comprehensive approach, addressing a broader spectrum of financial needs.

When choosing between the two, carefully assess your financial goals, the complexity of your financial situation, and your desired level of involvement. The ultimate decision should align with your unique financial circumstances and aspirations, ensuring that your wealth grows and is managed according to your objectives.

Interested in finding the best Quant & AI PMS portfolios in India? Learn more about Wright's top PMS portfolios.
Get Started


  1. Is portfolio management suitable for individuals with limited financial assets?

Yes, portfolio management can be suitable for individuals with limited financial assets in India. Many portfolio management services offer different investment strategies to cater to a range of investors, including those with smaller portfolios.

  1. Is a wealth manager able to help their customers with tax issues?

Yes, wealth managers often provide tax optimization strategies and advice to help clients minimize tax liabilities while optimizing their financial plans. They may suggest tax-efficient investment options and estate planning techniques.

  1. In choosing a wealth or portfolio manager, what should I look for?

When selecting a wealth or portfolio manager, consider factors like their experience, track record, fees, services offered, regulatory compliance, and how well their approach aligns with your financial goals and risk tolerance.

  1. Can I benefit from both portfolio management and wealth management?

Yes, you can benefit from both portfolio management and wealth management, depending on your financial needs. Portfolio management can focus on optimizing your investment portfolio, while wealth management offers a broader range of financial services, including tax planning, estate planning, and retirement planning.

  1. Do portfolio managers offer financial planning services?

Portfolio managers typically focus on investment-related services, such as asset allocation and security selection. Comprehensive financial planning services, which include tax planning, estate planning, and retirement planning, are often offered by wealth managers in India.

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