For many investors, particularly those going it alone, there’s a significant pitfall that can dramatically influence their investment outcomes: not understanding their risk tolerance. This is especially common among physicians, who often find themselves making critical financial decisions without adequate guidance.

What is Risk Tolerance?

In the realm of investing, risk tolerance is a measure of how comfortable an investor is with fluctuations and potential losses in their investment portfolio. Think of it as a gauge for your financial stress threshold. Would you panic and sell if your investments declined by 10%? 20%? Or would you hold steady, recognizing market downturns as an inevitable part of the investment journey?

Why It Matters

Understanding one’s risk tolerance is not just about peace of mind, though that’s a significant benefit. Properly gauging this can lead to more informed investment decisions, ensuring you’re not impulsively jumping ship during market downturns or, conversely, being overly conservative and missing out on potential gains.

Knowledgeable financial advisors can play a pivotal role here. By conducting a detailed assessment, they can provide objective insights into your risk tolerance. This knowledge can be a cornerstone for building a portfolio that aligns with both your financial goals and your comfort with risk. Such tailored advice can be instrumental in preventing potentially detrimental decisions.

The Value of Long-term Advice

Reflecting on our clients’ experiences, especially those who’ve journeyed with us through the tumultuous financial crisis of 2007-2008, underscores the significance of steadfast guidance. Amidst the panic of crashing markets, many were on the brink of making fear-driven decisions. But with proper counseling, they remained resolute, holding onto their investments. Today, these clients not only enjoy the fruits of their investments that have grown post-crisis but also appreciate the disastrous losses they avoided due to emotion-driven missteps.

This sentiment is echoed by the Vanguard Alpha Study. Rather than focusing on the picks and skips of investments, the study highlights the added value (or alpha) of collaborating with an advisor. Surprisingly, this value isn’t primarily derived from selecting the best stocks or timing the market. Instead, the real worth comes from behavioral coaching.

Here’s an overview of the results of the study, which shows the evolution of portfolio value as a function of the number of years worked with a professional financial advisor:

  • No Advice – Baseline.
  • 3-4 years of advice – Portfolio value increased by 1.58 times.
  • 7-14 years of advice – Portfolio value nearly doubled to 1.99 times.
  • 15+ years of advice – A whopping 2.73 times increment.

Risk Tolerance: More Than Just a Buzzword

It’s essential to recognize that risk tolerance isn’t a static number or a mere investment buzzword. It’s a dynamic trait that encapsulates how you feel, react, and ultimately act in the face of market uncertainties. In a nutshell, it’s about understanding your financial comfort zone.

So, if you’re a physician looking to navigate the investment landscape or an individual keen on making informed financial decisions, understanding your risk tolerance is indispensable. And remember, while you might have a handle on your immediate reactions to market flux, there’s undeniable value in seeking expert advice and coaching to guide you through the intricacies of the financial world.

In closing, as the adage goes, “It’s not about timing the market but time in the market.” Understanding your risk tolerance is a significant step towards ensuring your time in the market is both profitable and peaceful.

As a strategic wealth advisor, I enjoy working with physicians because there are so many interesting and creative strategies to explore. Working in collaboration with Assante investment advisors, I can guide you with your investment decisions, taking into account not only your risk tolerance but also your financial goals, unique circumstances and tax implications. In addition to helping you plan your investments, you can count on me to recommend the right wealth management strategies designed specifically to ensure that your assets grow while protecting your interests. Contact me, I’ll be happy to discuss the various ways I can help you.

Interested in finding out more about financial mistakes to avoid as a physician? Discover them in our previous article: 7 money mistakes every physician should avoid.


About the Author

Darren St-Georges is a senior wealth management advisor at Assante with over 15 years of experience. Assisted by a team of experts, he has helped many clients, such as dentists, health professionals and business owners, simplify complex financial issues and achieve their financial goals. Darren offers a personalized and integrated approach to wealth management. His mission is to use his experience and skills to bring financial peace of mind to his clients. Contact Darren for expert wealth management advice.

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