As an investor, you have access to quite a large selection of investment options to choose from. However, not all of them are equal or similar in all aspects, since they come with different risk and return profiles. And so, before you choose to invest your money in an investment option, it is necessary to first analyze and understand your risk appetite. This way, you would be in a better position to pick the right investment option that suits your needs and requirements. If you’re wondering about the risk appetite’s meaning and how you can understand your threshold for risk tolerance, continue reading to find out.     

Understanding risk appetite 

Technically, the term ‘risk appetite’ refers to the maximum amount of risk that you, as an investor, are ready to take for the furtherance of your objectives before the risk outweighs the benefits. Let’s take up a couple of risk appetite examples to better understand this unique concept.

Assume that there’s an investment option that offers you the ability to enjoy returns at 20% per annum. But, the chances of you losing a major part of your investment capital in the process of trying to earn 20% return per annum are high, at say 40%. Despite the fact that the investment option carries a capital risk of 40%, if you still choose to invest in it, then your risk appetite is said to be high. An investor with a high risk appetite usually prefers to chase high returns and doesn’t mind the high level of capital risk involved with the option.  

Here’s another example. Assume that there’s an investment option that offers you the ability to enjoy a modest return of just 8% per annum. The chances of you losing your investment capital in the process of trying to earn that 8% return per annum is very low, at say 10%. Under such circumstances, if you choose to invest in this option, then your risk appetite is said to be low. An investor with a low risk appetite usually prefers capital preservation and doesn’t chase high returns due to the higher amount of capital risk involved.            

Classification of investors based on their risk appetite

Now that you’ve seen risk appetite’s meaning and a couple of risk appetite examples, let’s take a look at how investors are classified based on their risk appetite.

Conservative investor

A conservative investor is a person who is averse to risk and usually takes an over-cautious approach when it comes to their investments. Since their risk appetite is very low, they tend to focus on investing in stable and low-risk investment options such as government-funded schemes, bank deposits, and gold. For a conservative investor, capital protection and preservation are the highest priority.    

Moderate investor

A moderate investor is a person who is generally neutral when it comes to investment risk. Such an investor generally takes on a little bit of a calculated risk in search of moderate to high returns. Their risk appetite is quite moderate and they adopt a more balanced approach towards investing, which entails equal amounts of investment in low-risk and high-risk instruments. A moderate investor has two priorities – capital preservation and moderate to high returns. 

Aggressive investor

An aggressive investor is a person who loves to take risks and adopts an over-optimistic approach towards investments. Such investors thrive under risk and are usually not afraid to put their investment capital on the line to earn high returns. Their risk appetite is very large and they tend to focus on volatile and high-risk investment options such as equity mutual funds, direct equity markets, and even derivatives. For an aggressive investor, the main priority is to earn high returns, even if it means that capital preservation has to take a back seat.   

How to assess your risk appetite?

Let’s now take a look at how you, as an investor, can determine your risk appetite and work out the category that you fall under. Here are some pointers that you should consider when assessing your risk appetite

The financial goals and objectives: Your financial goals and objectives can help you accurately assess your risk appetite. For instance, if your ultimate objective is something that’s extremely important to you or your family, then your risk appetite would need to be low.  

The tenure of your investment: If you’re planning to go the long-term route, then your risk appetite would need to be moderate. Since you would be staying invested for quite a bit of time, you can afford to take a little bit of calculated risk. 

Reaction to market movements: Another great way to assess your risk appetite would be to monitor your reaction to market movements. If you can handle the high volatility of the equity market and the various market sell-offs and crashes, then your risk appetite is most likely high.  

Conclusion

Always ensure that you invest only after you’ve assessed and analyzed your risk appetite. Your investment options should always match your current risk tolerance levels. This way, you can not only ensure that your investments perform according to your expectations, but you will also be equipped to plan for any contingent or adverse events that might happen down the line.