Monday, 1 July 2013

The relationship of risk and potential reward in stock investing is often misunderstood in shaping an investment strategy.

There is no investing in stocks without risk and there is no return without risk.

If you are adverse to the idea of taking any amount of risk, then stocks are not for you.

It will be more difficult (but not impossible) for you to reach your financial goals without investing in stocks.

Understanding Risk

Risk is the potential for your investment to lose money, for a variety of reasons - meaning your stock's price will fall below what you paid for it.

No one wants to lose money on an investment, but there's a good chance you will if you invest in stocks.

The rule of thumb is "the higher the risk, the higher the potential return, and the less likely it will achieve the higher return."

Buying a stock that is risky doesn't mean you will lose money and it doesn't mean it will achieve a 25% gain in one year. However, both outcomes are possible.

How do you know what the risk is and how do you determine what the potential reward (stock price gain) should be?

Measuring risk against reward

When you evaluate stocks as potential investment candidates, you should come up with an idea of what the risks are and how much of a potential price gain would make the risks acceptable.

Calculating risk and potential reward is as much an art as it is a science.

You need to understand the principle of risk and reward to make an educated investment as opposed to a guess.

The most common type of risk is the danger your investment will lose money.

You can make investments that guarantee you won't lose money, but you will give up most of the opportunity to earn a return in exchange.

When you calculate the effects of inflation and the taxes you pay on the earnings, your investment may return very little in real growth.

Will I achieve my financial goals?

If you can't accept much risk in your investments, then you will earn a lower return.

To compensate for the lower anticipated return, you must increase the amount invested and the length of time it is invested.

Many investors find that a modest amount of risk in their portfolio is an acceptable way to increase the potential of achieving their financial goals.

By diversifying their portfolio with investments of various degrees of risk, they hope to take advantage of a rising market and protect themselves from dramatic losses in a down market.

The elements that determine whether you can achieve your investment goals are the following:
1. Amount invested
2. Length of time invested.
3. Rate of return or growth
4. Fewer fees, taxes, and inflation.

Minimize risk - Maximize reward

The MOST SUCCESSFUL INVESTMENT is one that gives you the most return for the least amount of risk.

Every investor needs to find his or her comfort level with risk and construct an investment strategy around that level.

A portfolio that carries a significant degree of risk may have the potential for outstanding returns, but it also may fail dramatically.

Your comfort level with risk should pass the "good night's sleep" test, which means you should not worry about the amount of risk in your portfolio so much as to lose sleep over it.

There is no "right or wrong" amount of risk - it is a very personal decision for each investor.

However, young investors can afford higher risk than older investors can because young investors have more time to recover if disaster strikes.

If you are 5 years away from retirement, you don't want to be taking extraordinary risks with your nest-egg, because you will have little time left to recover from a significant loss.

Of course, a too-conservative approach may mean you don't achieve your financial goals.

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