How Much Risk Should You Take? | Summary and Q&A

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May 25, 2018
by
Ben Felix
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How Much Risk Should You Take?

TL;DR

Risk is an integral part of investing, and while it comes with the potential for gain, it also carries the possibility of loss. There are different types of risks, such as idiosyncratic risk and market risk, and it is crucial to effectively manage and diversify these risks in a portfolio.

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Key Insights

  • ✳️ Risk in investing is essential because it creates opportunities for financial gain.
  • ✳️ Idiosyncratic risk is specific to individual stocks and can be diversified away, while market risk cannot.
  • ✳️ Globally diversified portfolios of index funds help to eliminate idiosyncratic risk and capture market risk.
  • ↩️ The allocation to bonds in a portfolio affects its risk and returns, with stocks historically outperforming bonds.

Transcript

Risk is more than an important part  of investing. The whole concept of   a financial market exists on the basis that  taking risk can result in financial gain. If   you do not take risk in financial markets,  you expect very low returns. Of course,   with risk also comes the potential for  loss. Elroy Dimson of the London School   of Economics sai... Read More

Questions & Answers

Q: What is idiosyncratic risk, and how does it differ from market risk?

Idiosyncratic risk refers to the specific risks associated with individual stocks, while market risk is the risk of the market as a whole. Idiosyncratic risk can be eliminated through diversification, but market risk cannot be avoided.

Q: Why should investors aim for a diversified portfolio of index funds?

Owning a globally diversified portfolio of index funds helps to eliminate idiosyncratic risk. It allows investors to capture the positive long-term returns of the market while minimizing the potential for substantial losses.

Q: How does the allocation to bonds affect the risk and expected return of a portfolio?

Increasing the allocation to bonds in a portfolio reduces its risk and expected return. Stocks have historically outperformed bonds, but bonds are less volatile. Therefore, a higher allocation to bonds decreases the risk of the portfolio but also lowers its potential returns.

Q: How should investors determine the right amount of risk to take in their portfolio?

The decision on how much risk to take should consider the investor's ability, willingness, and need to take risk. Factors like time horizon, human capital, and specific goals play a vital role in determining the appropriate level of risk.

Summary & Key Takeaways

  • Risk is inherent in financial markets, and without taking risks, investors can only expect low returns.

  • There are two types of risk: idiosyncratic risk, which is specific to individual stocks, and market risk, which is the risk of the market as a whole.

  • Idiosyncratic risk can be diversified away, while market risk cannot. Investors aim for long-term positive returns by taking on market risk.

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