Risky Business: Understanding Your Risk Tolerance is Key to Financial Success

Risky Business: Understanding Your Risk Tolerance is Key to Financial Success

Originally published on January 27, 2016 and updated on April 28, 2022

Webster’s defines risk as “the possibility of loss or injury” and while this is true, risk—in the investment world at least—also means opportunity. In the simplest of terms, without risk, there is no reward. The key is determining the appropriate amount of risk for the reward you are seeking. This balancing of risk and reward is the foundation of all the work we do for clients and is critically important to long-term financial success.

Without a thorough understanding of a client’s risk profile, it would be impossible (and unethical given our commitment to fiduciary standards) for us to recommend an appropriate investment strategy. A strategy that is too aggressive could send you running for the exit at the first sign of a market correction or keep you up at night even if you are able to stick with it. A strategy that is too conservative may not keep pace with your desired withdrawal rate over time, requiring a possibly painful cut in retirement spending or risk running out of money before the end of your life. None of these scenarios are desirable. An investment strategy is intended to be long-term and enduring but subject to gradual adjustments as circumstances change over time, when you prepare to retire, for example. These changes should be driven by your evolving needs, not by market performance. It is for these reasons that we spend a considerable amount of time with clients to understand the following three aspects of risk that are unique to each individual:

Risk required: What does your portfolio need to return in order for you to meet your goals? First and foremost, we want to be sure you aren’t taking on more market risk than necessary in order to meet your goals. Finding the right asset mix—not too conservative and not too aggressive—and the possible return scenarios for your ideal portfolio is extremely important.

Risk capacity: How much loss can your portfolio suffer before you threaten your long-term security? What is your investment time horizon? Generally speaking, those investors who have less immediate need for the funds in their portfolio possess a greater capacity for risk taking. Simply put, portfolios that have more time to recover from losses sustained in a market correction can undertake a more growth orientated investment approach.

Risk tolerance: This is the “gut check”. How much risk can you stomach without hitting the panic button? While current market volatility may be testing you, you may be surprised to learn that risk tolerance remains very consistent once you’ve reached early adulthood. According to data from FinaMetrica, a leader in gathering risk tolerance scores, market fluctuations have almost no effect on risk tolerance. What can change as markets rise and fall is simply the perception of risk.

The turbulent market we’ve experienced so far in 2022 may have you thinking more about risk and your portfolio than you typically would. If your needs haven’t changed, the best course of action is to be mindful of your spending and simply hang on tight.

Articles and Commentary

Information provided in written articles are for informational purposes only and should not be considered investment advice. There is a risk of loss from investments in securities, including the risk of loss of principal. The information contained herein reflects Sand Hill Global Advisors' (“SHGA”) views as of the date of publication. Such views are subject to change at any time without notice due to changes in market or economic conditions and may not necessarily come to pass. SHGA does not provide tax or legal advice. To the extent that any material herein concerns tax or legal matters, such information is not intended to be solely relied upon nor used for the purpose of making tax and/or legal decisions without first seeking independent advice from a tax and/or legal professional. SHGA has obtained the information provided herein from various third party sources believed to be reliable but such information is not guaranteed. Certain links in this site connect to other websites maintained by third parties over whom SHGA has no control. SHGA makes no representations as to the accuracy or any other aspect of information contained in other Web Sites. Any forward looking statements or forecasts are based on assumptions and actual results are expected to vary from any such statements or forecasts. No reliance should be placed on any such statements or forecasts when making any investment decision. SHGA is not responsible for the consequences of any decisions or actions taken as a result of information provided in this presentation and does not warrant or guarantee the accuracy or completeness of this information. No part of this material may be (i) copied, photocopied, or duplicated in any form, by any means, or (ii) redistributed without the prior written consent of SHGA.


Video Presentations

All video presentations discuss certain investment products and/or securities and are being provided for informational purposes only, and should not be considered, and is not, investment, financial planning, tax or legal advice; nor is it a recommendation to buy or sell any securities. Investing in securities involves varying degrees of risk, and there can be no assurance that any specific investment will be profitable or suitable for a particular client’s financial situation or risk tolerance. Past performance is not a guarantee of future returns. Individual performance results will vary. The opinions expressed in the video reflect Sand Hill Global Advisor’s (“SHGA”) or Brenda Vingiello’s (as applicable) views as of the date of the video. Such views are subject to change at any point without notice. Any comments, opinions, or recommendations made by any host or other guest not affiliated with SHGA in this video do not necessarily reflect the views of SHGA, and non-SHGA persons appearing in this video do not fall under the supervisory purview of SHGA. You should not treat any opinion expressed by SHGA or Ms. Vingiello as a specific inducement to make a particular investment or follow a particular strategy, but only as an expression of general opinion. Nothing presented herein is or is intended to constitute investment advice, and no investment decision should be made based solely on any information provided on this video. There is a risk of loss from an investment in securities, including the risk of loss of principal. Neither SHGA nor Ms. Vingiello guarantees any specific outcome or profit. Any forward-looking statements or forecasts contained in the video are based on assumptions and actual results may vary from any such statements or forecasts. SHGA or one of its employees may have a position in the securities discussed and may purchase or sell such securities from time to time. Some of the information in this video has been obtained from third party sources. While SHGA believes such third-party information is reliable, SHGA does not guarantee its accuracy, timeliness or completeness. SHGA encourages you to consult with a professional financial advisor prior to making any investment decision.

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