How to Invest and Then Still Sleep at Night

Individuals possess varying levels of risk tolerance or risk appetite, indicative of their comfort level with uncertainty in investment. However, it is crucial to question whether they are truly aware of their personal level of risk acceptance. It is often the case that one would only recognize their capacity for risk when confronted with a significant potential loss. Until faced with a substantial decline, it remains a challenge to determine whether they possess the fortitude to withstand such a situation. In times of bullish markets where portfolios are continuously on the rise, it may be too simplistic to assume that everyone has high-risk tolerance.

Individual risk capacity

In the realm of finance, it is important to differentiate between subjective risk tolerance and risk capacity. The former refers to an individual’s willingness to endure financial discomfort, while the latter pertains to one’s overall financial situation and resources. Financial planners take into account various factors in order to determine an appropriate score, which ought to be reassessed as clients approach retirement.

  • Time horizon: In the context of a lengthier time horizon, an investor may elect to undertake greater risk with the anticipation that market fluctuations will be mitigated over the course of months and years.
  • Goals: The feasibility of an investor taking on a particular risk at a specific time is contingent upon their income and future plans, including but not limited to home ownership and retirement. It is advisable to compartmentalize these investments into distinct categories.
  • Age: Investors of a younger age are afforded the luxury of an extended timeline to effectively manage fluctuations in the market.
  • Portfolio size: The acquisition of additional assets serves as a protective measure. A larger and more diversified portfolio results in a reduced percentage of loss.
  • Comfort and stress: Individuals exhibit varied thresholds and psychological dispositions in the face of loss. Research indicates that, on average, the negative impact of losing financial resources outweighs the positive effects of gaining them.

In order to effectively manage investment portfolios, it is crucial for investors and their financial planners to ensure that risk capacity and risk tolerance are in line with each other. However, this can prove to be a challenging task as many investors possess a low risk tolerance despite having a high capacity for risk, or vice versa. For example, certain investors may be inclined towards making investments that are considerably risky despite not having adequate assets or prospects to support such decisions. Similarly, individuals who have begun saving for their retirement at a later stage may require assuming more risk than they would prefer in an ideal scenario.

Creating profiles

Financial planners utilize a standardized set of client profiles to delineate appropriate investment options. These classifications serve as a foundation for constructive dialogues.

Conservative investors prioritize preservation of capital as a primary objective and tend to lean towards interest-bearing securities like treasuries or blue-chip corporate bonds, accompanied by a small number of growth socks.

Moving along the investment continuum, investors with a moderate risk appetite and a slightly longer investment horizon exhibit a preference for a comparable blend of defensive and growth assets, typically seeking a 70/30 defensive/growth ratio.

Balanced portfolios, which typically consider a time horizon of approximately five years, allocate assets evenly between growth-oriented investments such as equities and listed real estate, and more defensive positions such as cash and fixed income. This approach aims to achieve a balance between risk and return, while also providing diversification benefits.

Finally, the most assertive investors tend to shift towards portfolios consisting solely of equities, with a forward-looking time horizon of up to nine or ten years.

Quizzes and questionnaires

Financial planners employ various techniques to determine clients’ risk appetites and facilitate their comprehension of how their attitudes influence their decisions. One such method is administering quizzes, which feature a series of questions designed to elicit pertinent information, including:

What is your anticipated timeline for initiating withdrawals, and what is the projected duration of your withdrawal period?

When considering investment options, would you prioritize protection or returns as your primary concern?

Anticipated changes to your income: Do you project an increase, decrease, or stability?

Regrettably, a significant number of questionnaires employed in the financial industry are inadequately constructed and overlook crucial topics such as longevity and inflation risk. They neglect to establish a correlation between risk and specific objectives and instead center too narrowly on clients’ risk appetites as a preliminary screening tool, rather than conducting a comprehensive evaluation of their goals.

Given the aforementioned constraints, it is advised to initiate a dialogue with your financial advisor to gain a more comprehensive comprehension of how your risk tolerance is affecting your investment choices.