Risk Management: Understanding Diversification

Presented by Trevor Kurth, CFP®

When you created your investment strategy, your asset allocation reflected your goals, time horizon and tolerance for risk.

Over time, however, any of these three factors may have changed, and your portfolio may need adjustments to reflect your new investing priorities.


The saying “don’t put all your eggs in one basket” can have application to investing. Over time, certain asset classes may perform better than others. If your assets are mostly held in one kind of investment, you could find yourself under a bit of pressure if that asset class experiences volatility.

Keep in mind, however, that diversification is an approach to help manage investment risk. It does not eliminate the risk of loss if an investment sees a decline in price.

Asset allocation strategies are also used in portfolio management. When financial professionals ask you questions about your goals, time horizon, and tolerance for risk, they are getting a better idea of what asset classes may be appropriate for your situation. However, like diversification, asset allocation is an approach to help manage investment risk. It does not eliminate the risk of loss if an investment sees a decline in price.

Determining an Appropriate Mix

Appropriate asset allocation is determined by each individual's situation. Here are a few broad factors to consider:


Investors with longer timeframes may be comfortable with investments that offer higher potential returns but also carry a higher risk. A longer timeframe may allow individuals to ride out the market’s ups and downs. An investor with a shorter timeframe may need to consider market volatility when evaluating various investment choices.


They come in all shapes and sizes, and some are long-term, while others have a shorter time horizon. Knowing your investing goals and portfolio income needs can help you keep on target.

Risk Tolerance

Your risk tolerance is your ability to handle volatility and potential losses on your investments. Your risk tolerance is essentially based on your emotions and personal feelings around your investments, rather than an objective mathematical measure in relation to your financial goals.1

Risk Capacity

Risk capacity is a mathematical measure of how much risk you can take before it affects your financial goals. This risk normally takes the form of volatility and potential losses. In assessing your risk capacity, you should look at both the probability of your investments turning negative and the possible losses that might come about, particularly in proportion to your other assets and their risk levels.1

Have Your Investing Priorities Changed?

If so, this is all the more reason to review and possibly adjust the investment mix in your portfolio. Asset allocation is a critical building block of investment portfolio creation. Having a strong knowledge of the concept may help you when considering which investments are appropriate for your long-term strategy.



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