Portfolio selection with mental accounts and delegation

Gordon J. Alexander, Alexandre M. Baptista

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

31 Scopus citations


Das et al. (2010) develop an elegant framework where an investor selects portfolios within mental accounts but ends up holding an aggregate portfolio on the mean-variance frontier. This investor directly allocates the wealth in each account among available assets. In practice, however, investors often delegate the task of allocating wealth among assets to portfolio managers who seek to beat certain benchmarks. Accordingly, we extend their framework to the case where the investor allocates the wealth in each account among portfolio managers. Our contribution is threefold. First, we provide an analytical characterization of the existence and composition of the optimal portfolios within accounts and the aggregate portfolio. Second, we present conditions under which such portfolios are not on the mean-variance frontier, and conditions under which they are. Third, we show that the aforementioned analytical characterization is also applicable within the framework of Das et al. and thus improves upon their numerical approach.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2637-2656
Number of pages20
JournalJournal of Banking and Finance
Issue number10
StatePublished - Oct 2011

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Our paper has benefited from the valuable comments of an anonymous referee. Baptista gratefully acknowledges research support from the School of Business at The George Washington University.


  • Behavioral finance
  • Benchmarking
  • Delegation
  • Mental accounts
  • Portfolio selection


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