Understanding Risk: Part III
Provided By Stephen J. Barrett, CFP®, AWMA®, AIF®
Vice President, Wealth Management
Fabruary 4, 2018
Understanding your own tolerance for risk
The concept of risk tolerance is twofold. First, it refers to your personal desire to assume risk and your comfort level with doing so. This assumes that risk is relative to your own personality and feelings about taking chances. If you find that you can't sleep at night because you're worrying about your investments, you may have assumed too much risk. Second, your risk tolerance is affected by your financial ability to cope with the possibility of loss, which is influenced by your age, stage in life, how soon you'll need the money, your investment objectives, and your financial goals. If you're investing for retirement and you're 35 years old, you may be able to endure more risk than someone who is 10 years into retirement, because you have a longer time frame before you will need the money. With 30 years to build a nest egg, your investments have more time to ride out short-term fluctuations in hopes of a greater long-term return.
Reducing risk through diversification
As you’ve heard many times before: don't put all your eggs in one basket. You can potentially help offset the risk of any one investment by spreading your money among several asset classes. Diversification strategies take advantage of the fact that forces in the markets do not normally influence all types or classes of investment assets at the same time or in the same way (though there are often short-term exceptions). Swings in overall portfolio return can potentially be moderated by diversifying your investments among assets that are not highly correlated--i.e., assets whose values may behave very differently from one another. In a slowing economy, for example, stock prices might be going down or sideways, but if interest rates are falling at the same time, the price of bonds likely would rise. Diversification cannot guarantee a profit or ensure against a possible loss, but it can help you manage the level and types of risk you face.
In addition to diversifying among asset classes, you can diversify within an asset class. For example, the stocks of large, well-established companies may behave somewhat differently than stocks of small companies that are growing rapidly but that also may be more volatile. A bond investor can diversify among Treasury securities, more risky corporate securities, and municipal bonds, to name a few. Diversifying within an asset class helps reduce the impact on your portfolio of any one particular type of stock, bond, or mutual fund.
Evaluating risk: where to find information about investments
You should become fully informed about an investment product before making a decision. There are numerous sources of information. In addition to the information available from the company offering an investment--for example, the prospectus of a mutual fund--you can find information in third-party business and financial publications and websites, as well as annual and other periodic financial reports. The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) also can supply information.
Third-party business and financial publications can provide credit ratings, news stories, and financial information about a company. For mutual funds, third-party sources provide information such as ratings, financial analysis, and comparative performance relative to peers.
Note: Before investing in a mutual fund, carefully consider its investment objectives, risks, fees and expenses, which can be found in the prospectus available from the fund; read it and consider it carefully before investing.
Broadridge Investor Communication Solutions, Inc. does not provide investment, tax, or legal advice. The information presented here is not specific to any individual's personal circumstances.
The content of this article was edited and updated by Stephen J. Barrett, CFP®, AWMA®, AIF® of Strategic Financial Group, LLC.
Advisory Services offered through Strategic Financial Group, LLC (SFG) (dba SFGI, LLC in Illinois), a Registered Investment Advisor.
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