What's Your Risk Tolerance? 3 Different Types & 5 Factors to Help You Determine

By Chika


Last Updated: May 9, 2023


Risk and reward are mutually exclusive in the world of investment.

The reward you gain from an investment is most times proportionate to the risk you take. 

A higher investment return might be the payoff for taking on risk. If you properly invest in higher risk assets, such as stocks or bonds, with a long time horizon and a long-term financial objective in mind, you may be able to earn more money than if you just save your paycheck. 

On the other hand, for short-term financial objectives, lower risk cash investments may be more suitable.

However, it’s important that you understand you could lose some or all of the money you invest.

In this article, we look at what risk tolerance is and why it is so important when making investment decisions.



What is risk tolerance? 

Risk tolerance refers to the amount of loss an investor is prepared to handle while making an investment decision.

If your tolerance is low, you’ll invest conservatively.

For instance, a greater portion of your portfolio might be in low-risk bonds and a smaller portion in higher-risk stocks. However, in most cases, the personality and character of a person usually has significant influence in investment behavior. 

If you are someone who likes to take risk, chances are such attributes will be reflected in your investment style.

If you are conservative by nature, most likely you would take a conservative approach when it comes to investing. 


Why is it important?

Knowing your risk tolerance is crucial. It enables you make financial decisions that will suit your goals and values.

You'll have a better grasp on how much risk you are willing to take, which ultimately reflects in the choice of assets you'll include in your portfolio.

A person with a low risk tolerance, for instance, could feel more at ease investing in mutual funds, whereas a person with a high risk tolerance might be prepared to take on riskier assets like stocks.



5 Factors that help determine your risk tolerance

Several factors determine the level of risk an investor can afford to take. 


1. Timeline.

Depending on their investing intentions, each investor will choose a different time horizon.

In general, if there is more time, greater risk may be taken.

A person who needs a specific amount of money in fifteen years is able to accept more risk than someone who needs the same amount in five years. It's because the market has exhibited an increasing tendency over time. In the short term, there are persistent lows.


2. Goals.

Everybody has different financial objectives.

Financial planning is not always done with the intention of amassing as much cash as possible. Calculating the amount you need to accomplish specific goals allows for the pursuit of an investment plan that will produce those returns.

As a result, depending on their goals, each person will adopt a varied level of risk tolerance.


3. Age.

Age reflects the amount of life an investor is willing to take.

The reason for this is because of the amount of time it takes to recover from potential losses, and also the responsibilities a person has to shoulder.

Younger investors are known to take on more risk, because they generally have a longer time to recover from steep losses, and also less responsibilities (eg. no family).

On the other hand, older people have a more conservative approach because there less time to recover (eg. they may be close to retirement), and also they may have dependents (eg. kids going to college). 


4. Capital.

The amount of capital available for investment is also another factor that determines risk.

The larger the portfolio, the more tolerance to risk. A portfolio size of $5 million will allow an investor to take on more risk than one who has $500,000. In the event of a value decline, a larger portfolio will have a considerably lower percentage loss than a smaller one.


5. Personality.

The features of your personality will predispose you to certain financial behaviors, one of which is your appetite for risk.

Some investors are naturally more comfortable with taking risks than others. On the contrary, market volatility can be extremely stressful for some investors. Risk tolerance is, therefore, directly related to the personality of the investor and how comfortable they are with taking risks.

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3 Types of Risk Tolerance

Depending on how much risk they are willing to take, investors are often divided into three basic types.

A few of the elements on which the categories are based have been covered above. These three groups are:

1. Aggressive.

Investors that take big risks and invest aggressively are knowledgeable about the market.

Such investors are accustomed to their portfolios seeing significant increases and decreases. Aggressive investors tend to be well-off, knowledgeable, and typically have a diverse portfolio.

They favor asset types with volatile price movements, like stocks. They'll naturally experience significant losses when the market performs poorly because of the amount of risk they take, but they also benefit greatly when the market performs well.

They do not, however, panic sell during market crises, since they are accustomed to volatility on a regular basis.


2. Moderate.

When compared to investors who take on aggressive risks, moderate risk takers have a lower level of risk tolerance.

They assume some risk and often decide what portion of losses they can take. Between hazardous and safe asset classes, they strike a balance with their investments.

When the market is doing well, they earn less money than investors who take a more aggressive strategy, but they do not experience significant losses when the market is down.


3. Conservative.

The least risky investors in the market are the conservative ones.

They choose the solutions they believe to be the safest and never engage in risky investments. They place preventing losses above achieving benefits. 



How do you know your risk tolerance?

By taking into account how much money they are prepared to lose if an investment doesn't work out, investors may ascertain their level of risk tolerance.

Asking yourself these kinds of questions and considering your behavioral inclinations, such as:

  • what steps you'd probably take after suffering a sizable financial loss
  • what choices you've previously taken when the markets took a turn for the worst

Knowing the answers to these will help you better understand your risk tolerance.

To assist you in determining your level of risk tolerance, several investment websites provide free online quizzes. Some of the websites even provide asset allocation estimates based on survey results.

Although the suggested asset allocations could be a good place to start, keep in mind that the outcomes might be skewed in favor of financial services or goods offered by businesses or people funding the websites.

In the end, calculating risk tolerance aids you in making choices that coincide with your objectives and unique risk tolerance.



Final Word on Knowing Your Risk Tolerance

Investing without taking into account risk tolerance might be deadly.

When investments lose value, an investor has to know what to do. Many investors leave the market, which results in low prices being sold. However, a market downturn might also be a terrific opportunity to invest.

Understanding your level of risk tolerance can help you decide how far you are willing to go. Therefore, knowing one's risk tolerance aids in making wise judgments rather than rash ones.

Photo by janilson furtado on Unsplash


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