Investment risks

Investment Risks

All investments involve risks including possible loss of principal. The following are some general risks associated with various asset classes mentioned on this website. This is not an all-inclusive list. Each specific investment approach and product will have its own specific risks and risks will vary.

Alternatives risks — Alternative investments tend to use leverage, which can serve to magnify potential losses.  Additionally, they can be subject to increased illiquidity, volatility and counterparty risks, among other risks.

Asset/Mortgage-backed securities risk — Mortgage-related and asset-backed securities are subject to prepayment risk, which is the possibility that the principal of the loans underlying the securities may prepay differently than anticipated at purchase. Because of prepayment risk, the duration of mortgage-related and asset-backed securities may be difficult to predict.

Below investment grade risks — Lower-rated securities have a significantly greater risk of default in payments of interest and/or principal than the risk of default for investment-grade securities. The secondary market for lower-rated securities is typically much less liquid than the market for investment-grade securities, frequently with significantly more volatile prices and larger spreads between bid and asked price in trading.

Capital risk — Investment markets are subject to economic, regulatory, market sentiment, and political risks. All investors should consider the risks that may impact their capital, before investing. The value of your investment may become worth more or less than at the time of the original investment

Commodities risk — Exposure to the commodities markets may be more volatile than investments in traditional equity or fixed income securities. The value of commodity-linked derivative instruments may be affected by changes in overall market movements, commodity index volatility, interest-rate changes, or events affecting a particular commodity or industry.

Common stock risk — Common stock are subject to many factors, including economic conditions, government regulations, market sentiment, local and international political events, and environmental and technological issues as well as the profitability and viability of the individual company. Equity security prices may decline as a result of adverse changes in these factors, and there is no assurance that a portfolio manager will be able to predict these changes. Some equity markets are more volatile than others and may present higher risks of loss. Common stock represents an equity or ownership interest in an issuer.

Concentration risk — Concentration of investments in a relatively small number of securities, sectors or industries, or geographical regions may significantly affect performance.

Credit risk — The value of fixed income security may decline, or the issuer or guarantor of that security may fail to pay interest or principal when due, as a result of adverse changes to the issuer’s or guarantor’s financial status and/or business. In general, lower-rated securities carry a greater degree of credit risk than higher-rated securities.

Currency risk — Investments in currencies, currency derivatives, or similar instruments, as well as in securities that are denominated in foreign currency, are subject to the risk that the value of a particular currency will change in relation to one or more other currencies.

Emerging markets risks — Investments in emerging and frontier countries may present risks such as changes in currency exchange rates; less liquid markets and less available information; less government supervision of exchanges, brokers and issuers; increased social, economic and political uncertainty; and greater price volatility. These risks are likely significantly greater relative to developed markets.

Equity market risks — Equity markets are subject to many factors, including economic conditions, government regulations, market sentiment, local and international political events, and environmental and technological issues.

Fixed income securities market risks — Fixed income securities markets are subject to many factors, including economic conditions, government regulations, market sentiment, and local and international political events. In addition, the market value of fixed income securities will fluctuate in response to changes in interest rates, currency values, and the creditworthiness of the issuer.

Foreign and emerging markets risk — Investments in foreign markets may present risks not typically associated with domestic markets. These risks may include changes in currency exchange rates; less-liquid markets and less available information; less government supervision of exchanges, brokers, and issuers; increased social, economic, and political uncertainty; and greater price volatility. These risks may be greater in emerging markets, which may also entail different risks from developed markets.

Hedging risk — Any hedging strategy using derivatives may not achieve a perfect hedge.

Interest-rate risk — Generally, the value of fixed income securities will change inversely with changes in interest rates. The risk that changes in interest rates will adversely affect investments will be greater for longer-term fixed income securities than for shorter-term fixed income securities.

Issuer-specific risk — A security issued by a particular issuer may be impacted by factors that are unique to that issuer and thus may cause that security’s return to differ from that of the market.

Leverage risk — Use of leverage exposes the portfolio to a higher degree of additional risk, including (i) greater losses from investments than would otherwise have been the case had leverage not been used to make the investments, (ii) margin calls that may force premature liquidations of investment positions.

Long-short strategy — The strategy could encounter higher losses if its long and short exposures move in opposite directions at the same time and both in an unfavourable way.

Real estate securities risk — Risks associated with investing in the securities of companies principally engaged in the real estate industry such as Real Estate Investment Trust (“REIT”) securities include: the cyclical nature of real estate values; risk related to general and local economic conditions; overbuilding and increased competition; demographic trends; and increases in interest rates and other real estate capital market influences.

Repo and reverse-repo risk — Both repurchase and reverse repurchase transactions involve counterparty risk. A reverse repurchase transaction also involves the risk that the market value of the securities the investor is obligated to repurchase may decline below the repurchase price.

Risks of derivative instruments — Derivatives, which are often used in alternative investments, can be volatile and involve various degrees of risk. The value of derivative instruments may be affected by changes in overall market movements, the business or financial condition of specific companies, index volatility, changes in interest rates, or factors affecting a particular industry or region. Other relevant risks include the possible default of the counterparty to the transaction and the potential liquidity risk with respect to particular derivative instruments. Moreover, because many derivative instruments provide significantly more market exposure than the money paid or deposited when the transaction is entered into, a relatively small adverse market movement can not only result in the loss of the entire investment, but may also expose a portfolio to the possibility of a loss exceeding the original amount invested.

Risks of investments in other pools — Investors in a fund that has invested in another fund will be subject to the same risks, in direct proportion to the amount of assets the first fund has invested in the second, as direct investors in that second fund.

Short selling — A short sale exposes an approach to the risk of an increase in market price of a security sold short; this could result in a theoretically unlimited loss.

Smaller capitalization stock risks — The share prices of small and mid-cap companies may exhibit greater volatility than the share prices of larger capitalization companies. In addition, shares of small and mid-cap companies are often less liquid than larger capitalization companies.

Sustainability — This is an environmental, social or governance event or condition which, if it occurs, could cause an actual or potential material negative impact on the value of an investment.


Liquidity risk — Investments with low liquidity can have significant changes in market value, and there is no guarantee that these securities could be sold at fair value.

Manager risk — Investment performance depends on the portfolio management team and the team’s investment strategies. If the investment strategies do not perform as expected, if opportunities to implement those strategies do not arise, or if the team does not implement its investment strategies successfully, an investment portfolio may underperform or suffer significant losses.

Diversification cannot assure a profit or protect against loss.


Below are some definitions of various investment and financial terms that may be mentioned on this site. This list does not include the definitions of all terms that may be mentioned on this site.

Alpha — Measures risk-adjusted performance and is generally calculated as the difference between the returns of an investment and its benchmark.

Beta — Measures of an investment’s risk relative to the market. It can also be considered a measure of systematic risk.

Correlation — A statistical measure of an investment’s movement in relation to another.

CPI — Consumer Price Index

Downside risk — Measures the potential losses that may occur if a particular investment position is taken.

Duration — Measures the sensitivity of the price of a fixed income investment to a given change in interest rates.

Strategic asset allocation — Is generally considered a long-term target allocation for a portfolio.

Tactical asset allocation — Short-term allocation changes generally due to market conditions.

Tracking risk — Measures the deviation in the performance of an investment relative to its benchmark.