Forecasting future variations in volatile investment returns
To invest successfully, you have to navigate complex market forces, so it’s important to take a more rounded approach. Investors have much to think about when choosing and understanding investments; in particular, market volatility and the impact it can have on your investment.
Extreme market volatility during the credit crunch demonstrated how markets can swing wildly. Understanding volatility is therefore vital to the overall process of choosing the right investments. Volatility is how sharply and how frequently a fund or share price moves up or down over a certain period of time.
It can be triggered by any number of factors. The UK stock market, for example, can fluctuate because of various factors both home and away: the Eurozone debt crisis, the slowdown in the US and problems as far flung as China can all have a turbulent effect on markets. Periods of losses/downturns can be followed by upswings (also known as ‘rallies’) and vice versa. But this is the very nature of the stock market.
The most common measure of volatility is standard deviation. This measures how much the value of an investment moves away or deviates from its average value over a set period of time, i.e. how much it rises and falls. The more volatility, the higher the standard deviation.
Forecast volatility attempts to use standard deviation to forecast future variation in returns. The higher a forecast volatility figure, the more an investment could move both up and down over time.
Loss or gain
Generally, investors are happier with lower volatility, even if this means making less money over time. Investors worry most about volatility when markets are falling. When this happens, remember that any loss or gain is only realised when you sell your holdings. Investing for the long term means short-term volatility is not necessarily a reason to panic and make drastic changes.
It can actually work to your advantage if you invest a monthly amount. When prices go up, the value of your investment rises; when they go down, your payment buys more. This is often referred to as ‘pound cost averaging’. However, this cannot be guaranteed.
Smooth out any bumpy rides
Spreading risk through diversification is often said to be the first rule of investment. Diversification across a range of markets and asset classes will enable your savings to go to work in different markets and, crucially, reduce exposure to one individual area, as one asset class may go up while another goes down.
Strategies of long-term investing and regular saving will help smooth out any bumpy rides. Matching your attitude to risk with your investments is crucial to getting the right portfolio for your needs.
INFORMATION IS BASED ON OUR CURRENT UNDERSTANDING OF TAXATION LEGISLATION AND REGULATIONS. ANY LEVELS AND BASES OF, AND RELIEFS FROM, TAXATION ARE SUBJECT TO CHANGE.
THE VALUE OF INVESTMENTS AND INCOME FROM THEM MAY GO DOWN. YOU MAY NOT GET BACK THE ORIGINAL AMOUNT INVESTED.
PAST PERFORMANCE IS NOT A RELIABLE INDICATOR OF FUTURE PERFORMANCE.