Introduction to risk management
Risk management is important on a business and individual level. You need to assess the risks of getting into certain investments for you to be able to choose the best investments. Risk management can be defined as the process of reducing risk. The process begins with identifying possible risks before evaluating and using available resources to monitor as well as minimise those risks.
A risk arises from uncertainty. Accidents, natural disasters, death and similar eventualities are good examples of risks. Risk management is concerned with identifying dire risks and using appropriate tools to deal with those risks. A risk prioritization process is used to identify those risks capable of causing great loss or have a higher probability of occurrence. The likelihood of an occurrence and impact of risk are the two most important factors in risk management. For instance, extensive risk management is required when the impact of risk and likelihood of occurrence is high. The opposite is true. It’s also crucial to note that risk management is an ongoing process that starts with assessment then proceeds with evaluation, management and measurement of risk before repeating the process again.
As the name suggests, risk source is simply, the source of a risk which can either be internal or external. External risk sources are sources beyond our control. Internal risk sources are risk sources which can be controlled or managed to a certain extent. A perfect example of an external risk source is bad weather or natural calamities. We don’t have any control over such risks. Risks such as fire are internal in nature since we have a certain level of control. For instance, you can fireproof your home or business to reduce losses in case of a fire. Once you identify possible risks in any given scenario, it is time to assess those risks to identify the likelihood of occurrence followed by a risk management plan and implementation characterised by security controls/mechanisms for controlling risk.
It is worth noting that there are risks that may be present but hard to identify. A good example is a perpetual inefficiency in a company’s production process that accumulates over time translating to operational risk. Managing risk for successful investingYou must invest to gain financial independence. However, it is impossible to eliminate investment risk. You can use some investment strategies to manage investment risk which stops many people from investing like they should.
There are two main types of investment risks namely systemic risks which are risks affecting the economy and non-systemic risks which are risks affecting a company or small part of an economy. Below are important strategies to consider when managing risk.
1. Prudent asset allocation
You should include different asset classes in your investment portfolio to protect yourself against risks affecting particular asset classes. Prudent asset allocation also increases your probability of getting satisfactory returns even if one or more asset classes /investments don’t yield any returns or drops in value. Ideally, you are supposed to invest in many different asset classes, i.e. bonds, stocks, real estate, etc. as opposed to concentrating on one asset class.
Diversification is similar in some ways to prudent asset allocation. The main difference is you can diversify in one asset class. For instance, instead of buying one company stock, you can buy many stocks in different categories to reduce overexposure. A perfect example would be dividing up your money and buying energy stocks, agriculture stocks, technology stocks instead of buying one stock with the same amount of money.
You can also hedge to reduce investment risks. Hedging involves buying a security for the sole purpose of offsetting potential losses arising from other investments. Taking insurance is a form of hedging. It is, however, worth noting that this risk management strategy adds to the overall cost of investing which can erode returns. Hedging is also speculative in nature so it’s essential to use this strategy with caution. Ideally, you need to do thorough research to use this risk management strategy effectively.
This is another risk management strategy ideal when you are already investing. Rebalancing involves periodically selling investments that take up a significant portion of your portfolio. As mentioned above, risk management is an ongoing process. If you assess your investments over time and realise you are overexposed in a certain asset class, it is prudent to rebalance, i.e., sell off a portion of such investments and invest in underperforming assets. Rebalancing is about selling high and buying low. In a nutshell, investing is risky. Luckily there are ways to manage risk which involve understanding the source and nature of risk and taking the necessary steps to manage or reduce those risks.