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Advisors Must Understand Risk Tolerance

The understanding of risk tolerance is a key component of the investor-advisor relationship.

| BY Kent McDill

High net worth investors want their advisors to understand them, and what they want them to understand are their feelings about investment risk.

Spectrem’s Millionaire Corner research shows that understanding risk tolerance is a key to the relationship between wealthy investors and their advisors.

The research looked at Ultra High Net Worth (UHNW) investors with a net worth of between $5 million and $25 million Not Including Primary Residence.

Asked what would cause an investor to change financial advisors, 37 percent said “advisor does not understand my risk tolerance”. It was the fifth-most popular answer, behind “not returning phone calls in a timely manner” (67 percent), “not being proactive in contacting me” (58 percent), “not returning e-mails in a timely manner (55 percent) and “not providing me with good ideas and advice” (54 percent).

With that threat to leave under consideration, 89 percent of UHNW investors said they felt their advisor “understands my appetite for risk.” 

While the overall percentage of investors who would end an advisor relationship because of a lack of understanding was 37 percent, most age groups felt more strongly on the matter. Fifty-two percent of investors aged 47 and younger would change over the understanding of risk, and 46 percent of investors aged 55 to 64 would do so as well. Only the oldest investors, 65 years of age and older, were under the average, at 32 percent.

Based on wealth level, only the wealthiest investors were below the 37 percent mark. Thirty percent of investors with a net worth between $15 million and $25 million NIPR said they would change due to the understanding of risk.

Forty-nine percent of investors who consider themselves advisor assisted, those who make their own investment decisions with the assistance of advisors, said risk tolerance misunderstanding was a reason to change advisors.

Younger investors aren’t so sure their advisors understand them. While 89 percent overall said their advisor understood their risk tolerance, only 80 percent of investors between the ages of 48 and 54 felt that way, and 81 percent of investors aged 47 and under did so.


About the Author

Kent McDill

Kent McDill is a staff writer for Millionaire Corner. McDill spent 30 years as a sports writer, working for United Press International and the Daily Herald of Arlington Heights, Ill. From 1988-1999, he covered the Chicago Bulls for the Daily Herald, traveling with them every day through the nine-month season. He also covered the Bulls for UPI from 1985-88, and currently covers the team for He has written two books on the Bulls, including the new title “100 Things Bulls Fans Should Know And Do Before They Die’, published by Triumph Books. In August 2013, his new book “100 Things Bears Fans Should Know And Do Before They Die” gets published.

In 2008, he resigned from the Herald and became a freelance writer. The Herald hired him to write business features and speeches for the Daily Herald Business Conferences and Awards presentations.

McDill also writes a monthly parenting column for the Herald’s Suburban Parent magazine.

McDill is the father of four children, and an active fan of soccer, Jimmy  Buffett and all things Disney.