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Protecting your portfolio: Basic risk management for beginners

Protecting your portfolio: Basic risk management for beginners
Bogdan Stojkov

Investing can be an exciting journey, but it’s important to remember that with great potential returns comes great risk. Just as you wouldn’t venture into a storm without an umbrella, you shouldn’t dive into the world of investing without some basic risk management strategies in place. That said, in this guide, we’ll explore simple yet effective ways to safeguard your portfolio against potential pitfalls.

Understanding risk

Before we delve into risk management techniques, let’s first understand what we mean by risk in the context of investing.

In simple terms, risk refers to the possibility of losing some or all of your investment. This can happen due to various factors such as market volatility, economic downturns like inflation or recession, or company-specific issues.

What is diversification in stocks

One of the most fundamental principles of risk management in investing is diversification. This means spreading your investments across different asset classes, industries, and geographical regions. By doing so, you can reduce the impact of a single investment performing poorly.

Benefits of diversification:

  • Spreads risk across multiple investments;
  • Helps mitigate losses from underperforming assets;
  • Improves overall portfolio stability.

How is asset allocation different from diversification

Asset allocation is another key component of effective risk management and is different from diversification. It involves determining the proportion of your portfolio to allocate to different types of assets, such as stocks, bonds, and cash equivalents.

Asset class Allocation (%)
Stocks 60
Bonds 30
Cash equivalents 10
Table 1: Example asset allocation

This table illustrates a sample asset allocation for a moderate-risk portfolio. Adjustments can be made based on individual risk tolerance and investment objectives.

Your asset allocation should align with your investment goals, risk tolerance, and time horizon.

Risk tolerance

Understanding your risk tolerance is crucial in constructing a portfolio that you’re comfortable with. Risk tolerance refers to your ability and willingness to endure fluctuations in the value of your investments. It’s essential to strike a balance between taking enough risk to achieve your financial goals and avoiding sleepless nights worrying about market volatility.

Risk management techniques

Now that we’ve covered the basics, let’s explore some specific risk management techniques that beginners can implement:

  • Stop-loss orders: A stop-loss order is a predetermined price at which you will sell a security to limit losses. For example, if you purchase a stock at $50 per share and set a stop-loss order at $45, your shares will automatically be sold if the price drops to $45 or below;
  • Dollar-cost averaging: Instead of investing a large sum of money all at once, consider using a strategy called dollar-cost averaging. With this approach, you invest a fixed amount of money at regular intervals, regardless of market conditions. This helps to smooth out the impact of market volatility over time;
  • Rebalancing: Over time, the performance of different assets in your portfolio may cause your asset allocation to deviate from your target. Periodically rebalancing involves buying and selling assets to bring your portfolio back in line with your desired allocation. This helps to maintain your desired level of risk exposure;
  • Asset correlation: Understanding how different assets in your portfolio behave in relation to each other is essential for effective risk management. Ideally, you want assets that are negatively correlated or have low correlation with each other. This means they don’t move in lockstep, which can help reduce overall portfolio volatility.


While investing always carries some degree of risk, implementing basic risk management techniques can help protect your portfolio against potential losses. By diversifying your investments, allocating assets appropriately, and employing specific risk management strategies, you can navigate the ups and downs of the market with greater confidence.

Remember, investing is a marathon, not a sprint, so stay disciplined and focused on your long-term goals.

Disclaimer: The content on this site should not be considered investment advice. Investing is speculative. When investing, your capital is at risk.

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