Every investment can be described in terms of the amount of risk associated with it. Higher-risk investments tend to experience greater volatility, which means they are likely to go up and down in value more often and by larger amounts than lower-risk investments. In return, higher-risk investments have the potential to produce higher returns over the long term, although this is not guaranteed.
For example, investments such as cash deposits and bonds issued by the UK Government (known as gilts) are considered low risk. UK commercial property, corporate bonds issued by UK companies as well as other types of global bonds issued by overseas governments and companies are considered medium risk. In the case of global bonds, generally those which pay a higher income are riskier than those which pay a lower income level. Shares in companies in the UK and other developed markets are considered high risk, while shares from companies in emerging markets are considered very high risk. You can reduce the overall risk in a portfolio by using ‘diversification’ – in other words, spreading your money across different investments. By doing this, you can match your overall portfolio to the level of risk that is right for you.
It’s important that your investment portfolio matches your willingness and ability to take investment risk. A ‘high medium’ risk profile shows that your willingness and ability to accept investment risk is slightly above average. A portfolio that matches this risk profile is likely to experience some significant rises and falls in value. So while there is good potential for returns from your investment to match or go above the rate of inflation (in other words, the rate at which the prices of goods and services rise), you also need to accept that your investment is likely to fall in value from time to time, particularly in the short term.
A portfolio for this risk profile is most likely to contain mainly medium- and high-risk investments, including UK corporate bonds and other higher-income types of global bonds as well as UK commercial property and shares. The shares are expected to be held mainly in the UK and other developed markets, but there is also likely to be some in higher-risk emerging markets. As a result, you should always check that you are comfortable with what’s included.