Separately managed accounts

SMAs can be an ideal solution for high-net-worth investors looking for a more tailored approach to their investments. On this page you can find out more about SMAs and how our capabilities can help.

What are separately managed accounts?


A separately managed account, or SMA, is a portfolio of securities that is professionally managed separately from other portfolios. Their targeted nature is one of the key differences between SMAs and mutual funds or exchange-traded funds (ETFs): While an SMA is managed for the benefit of one investor, mutual funds and ETFs pool the assets of many investors. This allows the asset manager to customize the portfolio depending on agreed goals and preferences. 

SMAs were originally devised to serve institutional investors requiring customizable investment strategies not available through traditional mutual funds. Today however, SMAs are also available to high-net-worth investors looking for a more tailored investment approach.

Understanding the benefits

SMAs are designed to serve as a key component of an overall investment strategy, acting as a strategic tool to help investors pursue their unique financial goals. SMAs fulfill this role by offering greater flexibility, tax efficiency and transparency.

  • Flexibility

    True to their name, SMAs are managed separately and are not governed by a prospectus. This allows for greater flexibility to tailor the strategy to the investor’s specific requirements or personal preferences.

  • Tax efficiency

    The direct ownership structure of SMAs offers a few tax advantages for investors. One advantage is that tax-loss selling can be targeted to the individual’s unique situation to help offset capital gains tax and potentially increase after-tax returns.

  • Transparency

    SMA investors own the underlying portfolio holdings directly, allowing them to view their securities along with current positions and prices at any time.

Partnering with Manulife Investment Management

Manulife Investment Management has provided investment expertise in SMA portfolios for our financial partners and their clients since 2001. We believe SMAs offer a solution to financial advisors aiming to build portfolios that can be tailored to suit individual needs. SMA investors benefit from specialized investment teams and an institutional approach to investment management that utilizes disciplined and well-defined investment strategies. Backed by a global financial services leader, Manulife Financial, clients are provided with stability, a robust risk management framework and an international network of resources. An SMA can be an appropriate solution for an investor who's looking for a more tailored approach and has the capital to invest. Your financial professional can help determine whether an SMA is right for you, help you navigate the available options, and help you take the next step. Our deep capabilities and comprehensive line up of strategies help us provide our clients with the following:

  • Specialized investment expertise from Manulife Investment Management's global network of investment managers

  • Comprehensive offerings in equity, fixed income and balanced strategies

  • Exceptional service and support backed by our robust distribution and client services teams

Related viewpoints

What is a separately managed account?

Separately managed accounts (SMAs) are managed by investment professionals and designed for high-net-worth individuals who have specialized or sophisticated needs and seek bespoke investment solutions. We discuss who SMAs are made for and their benefits and disadvantages,
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