What is a Risk Profile in Investing?

Every investor has a different level of tolerance for risk when it comes to growing their money in the financial markets. Understanding your own personal risk profile is crucial for making investment choices that align with your goals and level of comfort. Risk profile refers to your willingness and ability to take on varying degrees of volatility, uncertainty, and potential loss in pursuit of higher returns.

If you are new to the financial markets and online trading, you may have heard that it is crucial to understand your risk profile before venturing into live trading. In this article, we will look into the factors that shape risk profile and how you can determine yours. We will also explore how you can match your investments to your profile to create the most suitable portfolio to increase long-term success. If you are looking to start investing, read on.

Factors that shape risk profile

Below are four factors that can shape your risk profile.

Time horizon

One of the first things to consider is your investment time horizon. This is how much time you have or want to use to invest.

Investors with decades until retirement can withstand short-term drops better than those near retirement, the latter of whom may be more conservative in their approach. This is because more time in the markets means volatility can be ridden out. Additionally, those who are far away from retirement may also be less risk-averse because they can make back the money they lose in the markets.

Financial goals

Something else to consider is your financial goal when investing. Whether you are preserving wealth or maximising growth will impact your risk tolerance. If you are looking to preserve your wealth, you may opt for a more conservative portfolio that allows you to potentially grow your wealth slowly, in a stable manner. If you are looking to maximise your investments, you may opt for more aggressive strategies.

Investment experience

New investors tend to be more risk-averse until familiar with market fluctuations. Confidence grows with knowledge over time for some, and it can lead to an adjustment in risk profile.

Emotional tolerance

Of course, emotional tolerance is another factor that affects decisions. Those prone to reacting poorly to short-term swings want lower risk, while those who are more stable and not likely to be swayed in the short-term may find it more fruitful to go for more volatile markets that can potentially bring greater returns.

Determining Your Risk Profile

If you are wondering where you stand with your risk profile and cannot immediately tell, questionnaires can help clarify preferences regarding loss tolerance, experience with different assets, time horizons, and reactions to past market events to gauge risk levels. Common categorisations include:


A conversative risk profile points to individuals who invest with the aim to protect their assets. Losses are typically not acceptable, and as a result, these individuals typically have a larger bond/cash focus, and they go for stable investments with slower growth.

Moderately Conservative

For the moderately conservative, there is a balance of growth and protection. These investors are tolerant of mild volatility, but they do not want to take on too much risk. There may be a mix of bond and cash investments, with one or two fast-growing stocks or funds that can help them potentially grow their assets.


Moderate investors are willing to experience some ups and downs for higher returns long-term. These investors may opt for a more diverse range of investments, from bonds, stable stocks, and funds to slightly more volatile instruments.

Moderately Aggressive

Moderately aggressive investors are tolerant of sizeable short-term shifts. They emphasise growth in their investment strategy, and they look for more volatile investments such as growth stocks. The more aggressive one’s portfolio is, the more risk management strategies should be used.


Finally, aggressive investors participate in the markets pursuing maximum growth. Market swings are expected and accepted, and firm risk management strategies are in place to minimise capital loss. These investors may go for volatile instruments and find excitement in potentially making large profits when markets are favourable. They tend to also take bad conditions and losses in stride.

Matching Profile to Investments

Once you understand the kinds of profiles that you may have, you can align risk exposures appropriately. Generally, conservative profiles put most assets in bonds and cash to dampen volatility. On the other hand, aggressive portfolios emphasise individual stocks and alternative assets with greater beta or risk exposure. Asset allocation adjusts over time as profiles and needs change with age, finances, and experience. Rebalancing ensures proper weighting.

The bottom line

Risk profiling provides an objective understanding to create suitable investment mixes. For new traders, this can be helpful as it becomes a guideline to avoid costlier mistakes of taking excess risk when conservatism is preferable, or vice versa. Regardless of your risk tolerance and profile, an honest appraisal enhances your chances of achieving your financial objectives, and you should always seek to be clear about how much risk you can take.