Sunday, August 09, 2009


Finance: Safety vs. risk in terms of investments

One typically hears of cases where people have invested money in dubious investment schemes run by scheming and smooth investment gurus who actually end up duping people of their hard-earned money. These smooth operators typically get caught, but this is no consolation for those people who lose their money in these schemes. Similarly, people end up losing their money when they invest in stocks and mutual funds, either if the entire market collapses or if they invest in very risky stocks. So does this mean that people should invest in risk free investments ? No, because there is a ratio between risk and return. It is for every individual to decide their risk - return paradigm based on their comfort levels, and their ability to take risks. Read this article to learn more:

The rating scale starts with AAA (lowest credit risk) and ends at D (default grade, highest credit risk). Going by the normal yardstick, one should always go for the best. So, should all the investors invest only in AAA rated issues? To fathom this paradigm, we have to understand the riskreturn relationship. Risk-return & risk aversion. It is because of the relationship between risk and return — higher the risk, greater has to be the expected return on that investment and vice versa. An investor hoping for higher returns has to embrace the risks that are attached to it.
But how does an investor decide how much risk to be taken? In reality, there is nothing like optimal risk-return trade off. It is often a derivative of various factors like time horizon, liquidity, and some investor specific circumstances. The risk-return trade off is extendable to equities as an asset class also. The relative safety of investing in blue chips may not result in highest returns. In case of IPOs also, the IPO grading is an opinion on the relative fundamentals of the company. The investor decision is guided to a large extent by the valuation and risk tolerance.

So, as they say, the ability of a person to take some risk in their investment is guided by multiple factors. The only thing one should do is to ensure that one has thought through the investment carefully.

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