Why Your Risk Tolerance Matters

“I think there’s a difference between a gamble and a calculated risk” ― Edmund H. North

3 min read

Risk Tolerance

Why Your Risk Tolerance Matters

“I think there’s a difference between a gamble and a calculated risk” ― Edmund H. North

3 min read

Your risk tolerance is paramount in navigating the complexities of investment decisions. It encompasses your willingness to withstand financial uncertainty or potential losses whilst pursuing investment returns. Understanding why your risk tolerance matters is vital to ensuring your investment strategy is suitable for your own circumstances and objectives.

Psychological Aspects: Gains and Losses

Firstly, the psychological dynamics of gains and losses are pivotal in comprehending risk tolerance. Behavioural finance emphasises that individuals experience the emotional impact of losses significantly more than the satisfaction derived from equivalent gains.

This disproportionate reaction shapes investment behaviour, prompting a tendency towards risk aversion. For example, you may opt for more conservative strategies, favouring the preservation of capital over the pursuit of higher returns, even when opportunities for substantial gains exist.

Moreover, this aversion to losses creates a psychological barrier that goes against rational decision-making in investments. Investors’ responses are often influenced by the emotional weight of possible losses, leading to a preference for safe or familiar investment avenues. Consequently, this bias can limit their ability to capitalise on opportunities that might present higher returns, resulting in a less diversified portfolio.

Recognising this inherent psychological inclination is essential in developing a balanced investment approach that aligns with your risk tolerance, ensuring you benefit from a more informed and strategic investment strategy.

Types of Risk

Investment decisions are influenced by various types of risk. Market risk, also known as systematic risk, is the inherent volatility of financial markets, influencing the value of investments. In essence, this type of risk is, in almost all cases, not possible to avoid. By acknowledging and comprehending market risk’s influence, you can employ strategies to hedge against its impacts and optimise your portfolios. For example, diversification across various asset classes and geographic regions can partially mitigate this risk, aiding in stabilising portfolio performance in times of market volatility.

On the other hand, there is also unsystematic (or ‘specific’) risk. This pertains to risks inherent to a particular asset or sector and thus is easier to avoid. For instance, company-specific risks might include management changes, product recalls, or takeovers. Sector-specific risks could stem from regulatory changes or shifts in consumer preferences affecting specific industries. Whilst diversification can help mitigate unsystematic risk to an extent, it cannot entirely eliminate it. Strategies such as asset allocation and thorough due diligence are vital in mitigating this risk.

Inflation risk arises from the erosion of purchasing power due to a rise in the general price level of goods and services. Investments failing to outpace inflation may result in diminished real returns. Strategies to mitigate inflation risk involve investing in assets with returns exceeding inflation rates, such as equities, real estate, or Treasury Inflation-Protected Securities (TIPS).

Political risk stems from changes in government policies, geopolitical tensions, or legislative decisions impacting investments. Diversification across regions and sectors, investing in stable economies, or utilising hedging instruments like options or futures can help mitigate political risk.

Concentration risk emerges from an overexposure to a particular asset class, sector, or individual investment. This commonly arises from an Employer’s reward scheme whereby an Employee is given shares as a bonus and thus over time the Employee builds up a large concentration of their assets in one Company’s shares. Diversification across various asset classes and industries can mitigate this risk. Additionally, implementing risk management techniques like setting investment limits or employing stop-loss orders can help control exposure to concentration risk.

Indeed, there are many other types of risk, click here to see our previous article explaining many of the most common types of risk you may encounter.

Your Risk Tolerance

Understanding your risk tolerance requires introspection beyond financial considerations. Factors such as life stage, personal circumstances, and individual temperament significantly influence risk tolerance.

For instance, if you are nearing retirement, you might prioritise capital preservation (lower risk) over aggressive growth (higher risk) due to a shorter time horizon and a lower capacity to recover from potential losses. Conversely, if you are beginning your career or are a younger investor, you might have a higher risk tolerance and seek higher returns whilst accepting increased volatility (risk) for long-term wealth accumulation.

Furthermore, risk tolerance isn’t static; it evolves over time. Changes in financial circumstances, market experiences, or personal life events can influence your risk appetite. Being young doesn’t necessarily mean you will have a higher risk tolerance, whilst being nearer retirement does not necessarily mean you will have a lower risk tolerance. 

It’s about regularly reassessing risk tolerance ensures that investment strategies remain aligned with evolving financial objectives and emotional comfort levels. Partnering with a Patterson Mills Financial Adviser will provide valuable insights and guidance in navigating the complexities of risk tolerance assessment, facilitating a more informed approach to investment decision-making.

Getting You Where You Want to Be

A comprehensive evaluation encompassing financial goals, personal circumstances, and emotional resilience can allow you to forge a balanced and well-suited investment strategy. Fortunately, this is exactly what Patterson Mills are here for; forming an investment strategy that suits your individual circumstances, objectives and risk tolerance. So, get in touch with us today and book your initial, no-cost and no-obligation meeting, you will be pleased that you did. Send us an e-mail to info@pattersonmills.ch or call us direct at +41 21 801 36 84 and we shall be pleased to assist you.

Please note that all information within this article has been prepared for informational 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.