Risk Tolerance

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DEFINITION of 'Risk Tolerance'

The degree of variability in investment returns that an individual is willing to withstand. Risk tolerance is an important component in investing. An individual should have a realistic understanding of his or her ability and willingness to stomach large swings in the value of his or her investments. Investors who take on too much risk may panic and sell at the wrong time.

BREAKING DOWN 'Risk Tolerance'

Investors can assess their degree of risk tolerance by taking one of a number of different risk tolerance questionnaires. In addition, it can be useful to review worst-case returns for different asset classes historically in order to get an idea of how much money one would feel comfortable losing if his or her investments have a bad year or bad series of years.
Other factors affecting risk tolerance are the time horizon that one has to invest, future earning capacity, and the presence of other assets such as a home, pension, social security or inheritance. In general, one can take greater risk with investable assets when there are other, more stable sources of funds available.

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