Risks to Consider While Investing

Investment Risks

Investing in mutual funds carries the risk of capital loss and thus you may lose money investing in mutual funds. All mutual funds have costs that lower investment returns. The funds can be of bond “fixed income” nature (lower risk) or stock “equity” nature.

Equity investment generally refers to buying shares of stocks in return for receiving a future payment of dividends and/or capital gains if the value of the stock increases. The value of equity securities may fluctuate in response to specific situations for each company, industry conditions and the general economic environments.

Fixed income investments generally pay a return on a fixed schedule, though the amount of the payments can vary. This type of investment can include corporate and government debt securities, leveraged loans, high yield, and investment grade debt and structured products, such as mortgage and other asset-backed securities, although individual bonds may be the best known type of fixed income security. In general, the fixed income market is volatile and fixed income securities carry interest rate risk. (As interest rates rise, bond prices usually fall, and vice versa. This effect is usually more pronounced for longer-term securities.)  Fixed income securities also carry inflation risk, liquidity risk, call risk, and credit and default risks for both issuers and counterparties.  The risk of default on treasury inflation protected/inflation linked bonds is dependent upon the U.S. Treasury defaulting (extremely unlikely); however, they carry a potential risk of losing share price value, albeit rather minimal. Risks of investing in foreign fixed income securities also include the general risk of non-U.S. investing described below.

An ETF is an investment fund traded on stock exchanges, similar to stocks. Investing in ETFs carries the risk of capital loss (sometimes up to a 100% loss in the case of a stock holding bankruptcy). Areas of concern include the lack of transparency in products and increasing complexity, conflicts of interest and the possibility of inadequate regulatory compliance. Risks in investing in ETFs include trading risks, liquidity and shutdown risks, risks associated with a change in authorized participants and non-participation of authorized participants, risks that trading price differs from indicative net asset value (iNAV), or price fluctuation and disassociation from the index being tracked. With regard to trading risks, regular trading adds cost to your portfolio thus counteracting the low fees that one of the typical benefits of ETFs. Additionally, regular trading to beneficially “time the market” is difficult to achieve. Even paid fund managers struggle to do this every year, with the majority failing to beat the relevant indexes. With regard to liquidity and shutdown risks, not all ETFs have the same level of liquidity.  Since ETFs are at least as liquid as their underlying assets, trading conditions are more accurately reflected in implied liquidity rather than the average daily volume of the ETF itself. Implied liquidity is a measure of what can potentially be traded in ETFs based on its underlying assets. ETFs are subject to market volatility and the risks of their underlying securities, which may include the risks associated with investing in smaller companies, foreign securities, commodities, and fixed income investments (as applicable). Foreign securities in particular are subject to interest rate, currency exchange rate, economic, and political risks, all of which are magnified in emerging markets. ETFs that target a small universe of securities, such as a specific region or market sector, are generally subject to greater market volatility, as well as to the specific risks associated with that sector, region, or other focus. ETFs that use derivatives, leverage, or complex investment strategies are subject to additional risks. The return of an index ETF is usually different from that of the index it tracks because of fees, expenses, and tracking error. An ETF may trade at a premium or discount to its net asset value (NAV) (or indicative value in the case of exchange-traded notes). The degree of liquidity can vary significantly from one ETF to another and losses may be magnified if no liquid market exists for the ETF’s shares when attempting to sell them. Each ETF has a unique risk profile, detailed in its prospectus, offering circular, or similar material, which should be considered carefully when making investment decisions.

Inflation Risk, also known as Purchasing Power Risk, arises from the decline in value of securities cash flow due to inflation, which is measured in terms of purchasing power. Inflation Protection Bonds such as TIPS are the only protection offered against this risk. Floaters, the resetting of the interest rates, can help reduce inflation risk. All other bonds have fixed interest rates for the life of the bond, which exposes the investor to this risk.

Interest Rate Risk is the risk that an investment’s value will change due to a change in the absolute level of interest rates, spread between two rates, shape of the yield curve, or in any other interest rate relationship. These changes can be reduced by diversifying or hedging, since the changes usually affect securities inversely.

Economic Risk is the chance that macroeconomic conditions like exchange rates, government regulation, or political stability will affect an investment, usually one in a foreign country.

Market Risk, also called systematic risk, is the possibility of an investor experiencing losses due to factors that affect the overall performance of the financial markets in which they are involved. This type of risk can be hedged against, but cannot be eliminated through diversification. Sources of market risk include recessions, political turmoil, changes in interest rates, natural disasters and terrorist attacks.

Political Risk, also known as geopolitical risk, is risk an investment’s returns could suffer as a result of political changes or instability in a country. This becomes more of a factor as the time horizon of an investment gets longer. Instability affecting investment returns could stem from a change in government, legislative bodies, other foreign policy makers or military control.

Regulatory Risk is the risk that a change in laws and/or regulations will materially impact a security, business, sector or market. These changes can increase the costs of operating a business, reduce the attractiveness of an investment, or change the competitive landscape, and are made by either the government or a regulatory body.

Liquidity Risk stems from the lack of marketability of an investment that cannot be bought or sold quickly enough to prevent or minimize a loss. It is typically reflected in unusually wide bid-ask spreads or large price movements. Typically, the smaller the size of the security or its issuer, the larger the liquidity risk. Content

Credit Risk traditionally refers to the risk that a lender may not receive the owed principal and interest, which results in an interruption of cash flows and increased costs for collection. Credit risk is the probable risk of loss resulting from a borrower’s failure to repay a loan or meet contractual obligations. While impossible to know exactly who will default on obligations, with proper assessment and credit risk management, the severity of loss can be lessened. A lender’s or investor’s reward for assuming credit risk include the interest payments from the borrower or issuer of a debt obligation. 

Real estate funds (including REITs) face several kinds of risk that are inherent in the real estate sector, which historically has experienced significant fluctuations and cycles in performance. Revenues and cash flows may be adversely affected by: changes in local real estate market conditions due to changes in national or local economic conditions or changes in local property market characteristics; competition from other properties offering the same or similar services; changes in interest rates and in the state of the debt and equity credit markets; the ongoing need for capital improvements; changes in real estate tax rates and other operating expenses; adverse changes in governmental rules and fiscal policies; adverse changes in zoning laws; the impact of present or future environmental legislation and compliance with environmental laws.

Annuities are a retirement product for those who may have the ability to pay a premium now and want to guarantee they receive certain monthly payments or a return on investment later in the future. Annuities are contracts issued by a life insurance company designed to meet requirement or other long-term goals. An annuity is not a life insurance policy. Variable annuities are designed to be long-term investments, to meet retirement and other long-range goals. Variable annuities are not suitable for meeting short-term goals because substantial taxes and insurance company charges may apply if you withdraw your money early. Variable annuities also involve investment risks, just as mutual funds do.

Private placements carry a substantial risk as they are subject to less regulation than are publicly offered securities, the market to resell these assets under applicable securities laws may be illiquid, due to restrictions, and the liquidation may be taken at a substantial discount to the underlying value or result in the entire loss of the value of such assets.

Venture capital funds invest in start-up companies at an early stage of development in the interest of generating a return through an eventual realization event; the risk is high as a result of the uncertainty involved at that stage of development.


Past performance is not indicative of future results. Investing in securities involves a risk of loss that you, as a client, should be prepared to bear.