Carnegie Investment Counsel Blog

Portfolio Risk Management: Navigating a Volatile Market with Effective Strategies

Posted by Carnegie Investment Counsel on Aug 2, 2023 10:16:00 AM

Portfolio Risk Management CIC

Navigating the market can be challenging even in favorable conditions, but the task becomes even more daunting during periods of volatility. It's especially beneficial to rely on effective portfolio risk management strategies during those times. 


Portfolio Risk Management

Risk management is a fundamental investing concept that involves identifying, assessing, and mitigating potential risks to protect and enhance the value of investments. It is a proactive process of strategically analyzing and addressing uncertainties, such as market volatility, economic fluctuations, and specific investment risks, in order to minimize potential losses and maximize returns. Risk management is crucial for investors because it provides a systematic approach to understanding and managing the risks associated with investment decisions. 

Implementing effective risk management strategies may help investors protect their capital, preserve long-term financial goals, and navigate through challenging market conditions with greater confidence and resilience. It allows investors to make informed decisions, maintain a balanced portfolio, and adapt to changing market dynamics, ultimately improving the likelihood of achieving successful investment outcomes.


Proactive Versus Reactive 

Portfolio risk management is a proactive approach to managing investment risks.  In contrast, a reactive approach often leads to “managing” your portfolio in response to an event, but if you're responding after the effect, the worst of the risk has often passed. For example, some investors panic during a market correction and move their money from stocks to cash. Then when they deem the market to be “safe” they purchase stocks again. This reactive approach means selling low and buying high; the opposite of sound investing. 

In contrast, a proactive risk management strategy accounts for the inevitable market fluctuations before they happen. 


Asset Allocation

Asset allocation is a crucial component of portfolio risk management that involves strategically allocating investments across different asset classes, such as stocks, bonds, real estate, and cash. The ideal asset allocation depends on the individual and may evolve over time, even for the same individual.

For example, if you have a time horizon of thirty years, an appropriate asset allocation may include more assets typically deemed higher risk, such as stocks. The longer time horizon means more time for your portfolio to bounce back from any market corrections. In contrast, if you have a time horizon of only a few years, your asset allocation may include a smaller percentage of stocks, since the portfolio has less of an opportunity to recover from any market corrections. Every investor is different.


Regular Rebalancing

Market volatility can lead to imbalances in portfolio allocations. For example, let’s say you have a portfolio made up of 60% stocks and 40% bonds. You created this asset allocation shortly after stock prices dipped, but then stocks rallied. This is great, as your portfolio is now worth more, but the percentages have shifted. Your asset allocation is now closer to 70% stocks and 30% bonds. Since stocks are considered riskier than bonds, the higher percentage allocated to stocks means that your portfolio has become riskier. Rebalancing brings your portfolio back in line with your preferred 60/40 allocation. 


Risk Assessment and Measurement

One of the biggest risks during times of market volatility is making decisions rooted in fear as opposed to data. Of course, no one ever wants to see the value of their portfolio decrease but investing comes with market fluctuations. By analyzing historical data, investors can gain insights into the potential losses they may face under different market scenarios. This information can aid in setting realistic expectations and making informed investment decisions.



Diversification is a fundamental principle of not just portfolio risk management but investing itself. Spreading investments across different asset classes, sectors, and geographic regions increases the chances that a decline in one area may be offset by positive performance in another. 

However, it is important to note that diversification does not guarantee profits or protect against losses in a volatile market. Additionally, you need more than one type of diversification to reap the true rewards. For example, if you spread your portfolio across stocks, bonds, and real estate, but your entire stock portfolio is made up of large-cap US stocks, you’re missing out on diversifying across geographic locations and smaller and mid cap-size.


Emotional Bias

Emotional biases can significantly impact investment performance, often leading to irrational decision-making and potential financial losses. As human beings, we are susceptible to cognitive biases such as fear, greed, and herd mentality, which can cloud our judgment and drive impulsive investment decisions. These biases can cause us to buy or sell assets based on short-term market fluctuations or emotions rather than sound investment principles. 

To mitigate the influence of emotional biases, it is best to work with a professional financial advisor. Their expertise and objective perspective can help investors make rational decisions based on long-term goals, risk tolerance, and thorough analysis of market trends. By partnering with a financial advisor, investors can navigate market volatility with a disciplined approach, avoiding emotional pitfalls and ensuring their investment decisions align with their overall financial objectives.



In a volatile market, portfolio risk management is an important tool for investors looking to safeguard their investments and achieve long-term financial goals. While it is impossible to completely eliminate risk, a well-managed portfolio can withstand market fluctuations and capitalize on growth opportunities. Seeking advice from a qualified financial professional and staying informed about market trends can further enhance the effectiveness of portfolio risk management strategies.

Key Takeaways 

  • Portfolio Risk Management is an essential tool for investors who want to protect and enhance the value of their investments.
  • Proactive risk management involves analyzing and mitigating various risk factors to help create a stable and resilient investment portfolio.
  • A reactive approach to risk management should be avoided, as minor adjustments and staying the course often prove more effective.
  • Asset allocation should be strategically tailored to individual time horizons and risk tolerance.
  • Regular portfolio rebalancing maintains the desired asset allocation and may take advantage of market opportunities.
  • Risk assessment helps investors make informed decisions based on data rather than fear.
  • Diversification across asset classes, sectors, and geographic regions is crucial but should include different types of diversification.
  • Emotional biases, such as fear and greed, can negatively impact investment performance.
  • Working with a professional financial advisor helps investors make rational decisions and navigate market volatility with discipline.


Carnegie Investment Counsel

Written by Carnegie Investment Counsel

Carnegie Investment Counsel is an Registered Investment Adviser (RIA) providing personalized financial guidance to help you preserve and grow your wealth, so you are freer to enjoy your life. As your fiduciary, we are obligated to place your investing success ahead of our returns.

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