Use of genetic algorithms for optimal investment strategies

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Author: Zhang, Fan
In this project, a genetic algorithm (GA) is used in the development of investment strategies to decide the optimum asset allocations that back up a portfolio of term insurance contracts and the re-balancing strategy to respond to the changing financial markets, such as change in interest rates and mortality experience. The objective function used as the target to be maximized in GA allows us to accommodate three objectives that should be of interest to the management in insurance companies. The three objectives under consideration are maximizing the total value of wealth at the end of the period, minimizing the variance of the total value of the wealth across the simulated interest rate scenarios and achieving consistent returns on the portfolio from year to year. One objective may be in conflict with another, and GA tries to find a solution, among the large searching space of all the solutions, that favors a particular objective as specified by the user while not worsening other objectives too much. Duration matching, a popular approach to manage risks underlying the traditional life insurance portfolios, is used as a benchmark to examine the effectiveness of the strategies obtained through the use of genetic algorithms. Experiments are conducted to compare the performance of the investment strategy proposed by the genetic algorithm to the duration matching strategy in terms of the different objectives under the testing scenarios. The results from the experiments successfully illustrate that with the help of GA, we are able to find a strategy very similar to the strategy from duration matching. We are also able to find other strategies that could outperform duration matching in terms of some of the desired objectives and are robust in the tested changing environment of interest rate and mortality.
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