By Steve Allender, CRPC®
From a global pandemic to increasing inflation to political headlines, it’s no surprise we have seen increased market volatility over the last couple years. And when it feels like our world is spinning out of control, it’s tempting to panic, especially when it comes to our finances. After all, human beings are naturally averse to loss, and the pain of losing is more powerful than the potential to achieve gains. (1)
But here’s the irony: when we make emotional decisions and act irrationally in an attempt to avoid loss, we can lose even more. Just ask any investor who has sold stock when the market dropped and missed the recovery, only buying back in when the markets were high again.
What’s the solution? We know we need to invest to grow our money into a nest egg that will sustain us in the future, but how can you ensure you don’t take on too much risk in the process?
In the financial world, risk tolerance is defined as a measure of one’s financial ability to withstand losses. While you can’t completely eliminate risk in your portfolio, you can ensure that the amount of risk you take correlates with the level of potential reward for you to gain. It is more than possible to match your investments to your goals while still being able to sleep at night during market downturns.
Here’s the thing we need to remember when we’re tempted to get out of the market ASAP: some risks are avoidable, some are not. Avoidable risks are those that occur when your portfolio leans too heavily on stocks or bonds that have been unstable in the past or when your holdings are not diversified appropriately. For example, you may be putting too much of your company’s stock in your 401(k) plan. Or you may have an overabundance of overlapping U.S. stock mutual funds instead of being more globally diversified. Avoidable risks often occur when we underestimate risk and believe we can tolerate more than we actually can.
On the other hand, unavoidable risks are those that occur because our world is ever-changing, volatile, and we can’t predict everything. As much as we wish they weren’t, unavoidable risks are simply out of our control. This type of risk includes unfortunate events like geopolitical issues, global pandemics, and dramatic election seasons.
The third category of risk is often unseen, but it can impact your portfolio just as intensely as an obvious risk: the risk of being too conservative and not achieving your future goals as a result. By overestimating risk and trying to avoid loss at any cost, you could be unintentionally sacrificing your future dreams.
What Can You Do About Risk?
Unfortunately, it’s not as simple as telling your advisor you feel comfortable with “moderate” risk. Everyone has their own risk tolerance level, based on their age, life circumstances, and time horizon. The key is using a quantitative approach to pinpoint how much risk you are comfortable taking, how much risk you need to take to reach your goals, and how much risk you currently have in your portfolio.
At Acute WealthCare, we use Riskalyze, an online tool based on Nobel Prize-winning research that gives you your personal risk number. Then, using your personal risk number as a foundation, we gather info, look at the facts, and build a portfolio that is right for you. It’s a way to give consistency and direction to your financial plan. Knowing your risk numbers helps us guide you toward a portfolio you can hold fast to when the road gets rough or when permanent loss stares you in the face. Give it a spin right now!
Our goal is to help you discover your risk limits before you’re overcome with fear and tempted to panic. We’d love to chat with you, talk through your goals, and work toward your dreams while working within your personal risk level. Schedule a 15-minute introductory phone call to get started!
About SteveSteve Allender is a partner and wealth advisor at Acute WealthCare, an independent comprehensive financial management firm. Steve is a Chartered Retirement Planning Counselor℠ who spends his days helping women in healthcare professions build a secure financial future through investment management and financial planning. Steve loves building long-term relationships with his clients and helping them address financial burdens so they can focus on what they love and how they want to spend their time. While Steve has officially been in the financial industry for over 20 years, he became hooked on learning about finances as a child when his parents taught him the basics of saving, spending, and giving. Steve enjoys all the outdoor activities living in Colorado provides, and you can often find him backpacking, snowshoeing, rafting, mountain biking, fishing, and exploring old mining communities. His claim to fame is that he is a Colorado Trail thru-hike completer, covering 486 miles of the most beautiful country on earth. Steve also enjoys a good book about Lincoln and the Civil War and is committed to his community, mentoring through Save Our Youth and helping the elderly and single moms with household maintenance through the Minute Man Ministry. Learn more about Steve by connecting with him on LinkedIn. You can also register for his latest webinar on What We Do & How We Help.