How Does Risk Change With Age?

“Risk is how much can you lose and what are the chances of losing it” – Seth Klarman
3 min read
How Does Investing Risk Changes With Age

How Does Risk Change With Age?

“Risk is how much can you lose and what are the chances of losing it” – Seth Klarman

3 min read

Investing is a crucial part of financial planning, but the you take approach can vary significantly based on age.

However, it is not as easy as saying that younger investors can take more risk and older investors can take less risk. 

What is more prudent to consider is that younger and older investors have different risk tolerances and investment strategies due to their varying financial goals, time horizons, and life stages.

This could lead to older investors taking less risk than younger investors, but also younger investors taking less risk than older investors.

As with most things, there is no one-size-fits-all solution. Understanding the differences is key to crafting a suitable investment plan as, unfortunately, the answer to how much risk you should take is not quite so simple!

Risk Tolerance at a Younger Age

Younger investors, typically in their 20s and 30s, have a long investment horizon. This allows them to take on higher risks, as they have more time to recover from potential market downturns. The focus for younger investors is often on growth and accumulating wealth over the long term, though this is a generalisation and not true for everyone.

Due to an extended time horizon, younger investors can typically then afford to invest aggressively. They are more likely to allocate a larger portion of their portfolio to stocks, which, while volatile, offer higher potential returns.

This strategy aims to maximise growth during the early years of investing and can be seen as a comfortable way of investing when they have many years to recuperate any losses.

Risk Tolerance in Later in Life

Older investors, typically nearing or in retirement, naturally have a shorter time horizon. Their focus often shifts from accumulation to preservation of capital and generating income. This reduced time frame makes them less tolerant of high-risk investments, as they have less time to recover from potential losses.

However, this is again a generalisation and you could in fact have varying degrees of risk for different parts of your portfolio, subject to your needs.

To mitigate risk, older investors can adopt conservative investment strategies. This means that they allocate a larger portion of their portfolio to bonds, cash, and other fixed-income securities. These assets provide stability and predictable income, essential for funding retirement expenses. Please note, no investment is without risk and you could withdraw less than you invested.

Balancing Risk and Reward

Regardless of age, diversification remains a fundamental principle of investing. You can diversify to spread risk across various high-growth assets, or diversify to protect your portfolio from market volatility and preserve capital.

As investors age, it’s common to gradually shift their portfolio from aggressive to conservative. This strategy, known as “life-styling,” adjusts the asset allocation to reduce risk as the investor approaches retirement. This ensures that the portfolio is aligned with changing financial goals and risk tolerance.

The Importance of Personalised Financial Advice

It is easy to think “I am older now, I should reduce my risk tolerance” or “I am young and should take as much risk as I can.”

Well, individual circumstances differ and the above statements are not necessarily true.

Things such as financial goals, income needs, and personal risk tolerance should always guide investment decisions, no matter your age.

Whilst online resources can only take you so far, talking to a Patterson Mills Financial Planner can help you discover where on the risk scale you fit, regardless of age.

In fact, if you are young but plan to buy a house within 3- to 5-years, you may wish to consider a lower risk profile.

If you are older and envisage your portfolio lasting 20- to 30-years, you could consider a higher risk profile.

No matter your age, if you have financial goals you wish to meet sooner in life, and those you wish to meet later in life, you could take a proportion of your portfolio and invest in lower risk assets for those you wish to meet sooner, and could potentially afford to take higher risk for those you wish to meet later in life.

As you can see, one thing is clear; you need a tailored investment strategy that considers these unique factors, and Patterson Mills is here to give you just that.

The Best Way To Formulate Your Investment Strategy

In reality, you cannot paint any age group with the same brush.

If you are older, do not think you have to take less risk and, if you are younger, do not think you have to take high risk.

It all depends on your personal circumstances, risk tolerance, capacity for loss, financial goals, time horizon, and more!

So, look no further as your helping hand is just one e-mail or phone call away.

Get in touch with us today and book your initial, no-cost and no-obligation meeting.

Send us an e-mail to or call us direct at +41 21 801 36 84 and we shall be pleased to assist you.

Please note that all content within this article has been prepared for information purposes only. This article does not constitute financial, legal or tax advice. Always ensure you speak to a regulated Financial Adviser before making any financial decisions.