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What is Total Risk?

Malcolm Tatum
Updated May 16, 2024
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Total risk is the combination of all risk factors associated with making some type of investment decision. Identifying all the factors that could come into play means looking closely at both the systematic and the unsystematic risk involved with either buying or selling a given investment, such as shares of stock, bonds, mutual funds, or commodities. This all-encompassing approach makes it easier to choose the course of action that is likely to result in the best possible outcome for the investor.

Both systematic and unsystematic risk, also known as systemic and unsystemic risk, must be considered in order for the total risk to be assessed. Systemic risk involves looking closely at any type of risk that is inherent in carrying a particular class or type of assets and liabilities. Unsystemic risk entails looking closely at any type of risks that are associated with the specific investment opportunity. By approaching the volatility of the investment from both a narrow and a broad perspective, the chances of truly assessing the total risk are greatly improved.

While evaluating the total risk does take some time and attention to detail, the end result is well worth the effort. By taking all these factors into consideration, it is possible to make a more educated projection on the future movement of the investment, and determine if it is worth the resources and the time to buy or retain the holding in a financial portfolio. At the same time, evaluating the total risk can help an investor avoid spending time and money securing a particular investment that ultimately proves to be an incorrect choice.

It is important to note that evaluating the total risk surrounding any type of investment often means looking beyond the more apparent factors, and considering a wide range of variables. It is not enough to simply look at the past performance of shares of stock or the current condition of the business that issues the shares. Factors like the projected movement of the marketplace in general, the possibility of increased competition for the issuing company, and even factors such as upcoming political elections, the general state of the economy, and the possibility of natural disasters occurring must also be considered. While some of the considerations involved with assessing total risk may seem far-fetched, taking the time to consider them along with more likely factors can make the difference between earning a return and incurring a loss.

SmartCapitalMind is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Malcolm Tatum
By Malcolm Tatum
Malcolm Tatum, a former teleconferencing industry professional, followed his passion for trivia, research, and writing to become a full-time freelance writer. He has contributed articles to a variety of print and online publications, including SmartCapitalMind, and his work has also been featured in poetry collections, devotional anthologies, and newspapers. When not writing, Malcolm enjoys collecting vinyl records, following minor league baseball, and cycling.
Discussion Comments
By live2shop — On Jun 19, 2011

It's really difficult to predict how investments like stocks and mutual funds will do in the long and short run. From the time I started investing, I didn't want to bother doing research and figuring out what stocks or mutual funds might end up being the most profitable.

I wasn't very knowledgeable about finances or how investments were influenced in so many ways by what was happening in the world around us.

So, I decided to hire an investment manager to do the work and choose what stocks and bonds I bought and sold. I could give him any output that I wanted. He kept up on all the information gathering and decisions about the purchase and sale of my investment. I'm confident that it's working better than I could do.

By Esther11 — On Jun 16, 2011

When I consider buying stocks, I want to do research on the stocks I'm interested in and ask questions of stock managers and friends. I look to see how the stock has done in the last ten years. I like stocks that pay dividends so I look at how much they have paid in the last few years. Reading reports written by the companies gives me good information.

Then I try to look at the big picture. If the company has had recalls or a lot of bad press, I probably won't buy it. Finding out if a company has fired a top executive, if its competitors are doing well, or if bad weather might affect the stock is a good idea.

It takes a lot of time and effort to make as wise an investment as you can.

Malcolm Tatum
Malcolm Tatum
Malcolm Tatum, a former teleconferencing industry professional, followed his passion for trivia, research, and writing...
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