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Last edited 01 Dec 2020
The work 'portfolio' is thought to be derived from the Italian 'portare' meaning ‘carry’ and 'foglio' menaing ‘leaf’. In this sense, a portfolio is a large, thin, portable case used to store and carry drawings, paintings and other loose papers. It usually comprises two identical halves, usually made of plastic or leather, that are zipped together. A handle ensures it can be easily carried around. In size, portfolios as cases can range from A1 to A4.
However, the term portfolio can also be used more widely to refer to a collection:
- A student of architecture or qualified architect may be asked to bring their portfolio of work to a job interview. The portfolio will usually include a selection of drawings or projects completed by the applicant over a period of time which represents their design skills and abilities. Or, a writer or journalist may be asked to show a portfolio of their writings and articles.
- In another sense, the term portfolio can be used to signify a grouping of financial assets held by an investor. Their portfolio may comprise shares, stocks, currencies or bonds, or all of them.
- Alternatively, a rental landlord may have a portfolio of properties, a developer may have a portfolio of projects and so on.
- The Green Book, Central Government Guidance On Appraisal And Evaluation, Published by HM Treasury in 2020, suggests that a portfolio: ‘is a collection of programmes and/or projects it may be used to structure and manage investments at an organisational or functional level to optimise strategic benefits and/or operational efficiency.’ For more information see: Portfolio management.
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