CAPM (Capital Asset Pricing Model)

CAPM, short for Capital Asset Pricing Model, is a financial model that helps in determining an appropriate required rate of return on an investment based on its level of risk. Developed by William F. Sharpe in the 1960s, CAPM has become a widely used tool in the field of finance, aiding investors, analysts, and portfolio managers in making informed investment decisions.


The Capital Asset Pricing Model takes into account the risk and return relationship of an investment by providing a framework to estimate the expected return on an asset relative to its systemic risk. This model is largely based on the assumption that investors are risk-averse and will require additional return as compensation for bearing higher levels of risk.

CAPM is primarily used to calculate the expected return on individual assets or an entire investment portfolio. It provides a mathematical equation which incorporates the risk-free rate of return, the expected market return, and the asset’s beta coefficient. The formula is as follows:

Expected Return = Risk-Free Rate + Beta (Expected Market Return – Risk-Free Rate)

In this equation, the risk-free rate represents the return an investor can earn without taking on any risk, typically derived from government bonds or other low-risk investments. The expected market return refers to the anticipated rate of return of the overall market.

The beta coefficient is a measure of an asset’s systemic risk, indicating how sensitive the asset’s returns are to changes in the general market. A beta of 1 suggests that the asset’s returns move in line with the market, while a beta higher than 1 indicates the asset is more volatile than the market, and a beta lower than 1 denotes lower volatility than the market.

By incorporating these variables into the CAPM equation, investors can evaluate the expected compensation for investing in a particular asset. If the expected return of an asset is higher than the CAPM-derived rate, it suggests that the asset is undervalued and potentially attractive for investment. Conversely, if the expected return is below the CAPM-derived rate, the asset may be overvalued and considered less appealing.

Despite its popularity, the CAPM model does have some limitations. One major criticism is that it relies on several assumptions, such as a simplified market structure and efficient markets. Some argue that these assumptions do not fully reflect the realities of complex financial markets. Additionally, CAPM does not account for factors specific to individual assets, such as management quality or competitive advantages, which may affect the expected return.

In conclusion, the Capital Asset Pricing Model (CAPM) is a widely used financial tool for estimating the expected return on investments based on their relative risk. By considering the risk-free rate, market return, and asset beta, CAPM provides investors with valuable insights into the appropriate compensation they should expect for investing in various assets. While it has its limitations, CAPM remains a fundamental model in finance that aids in portfolio optimization and investment decision-making.

This glossary is made for freelancers and owners of small businesses. If you are looking for exact definitions you can find them in accounting textbooks.

Invoice Template image

Invoice Templates

Our collection of invoice templates provides businesses with a wide array of customizable, professional-grade documents that cater to diverse industries, simplifying the invoicing process and enabling streamlined financial management.
Estimate Template image

Estimate Templates

Streamline your billing process with our comprehensive collection of customizable estimate templates tailored to fit the unique needs of businesses across all industries.
Receipt Template image

Receipt Templates

Boost your organization's financial record-keeping with our diverse assortment of professionally-designed receipt templates, perfect for businesses of any industry.