Several years after I arrived on the planet in 1961, my Dad brought home our first car. It was a second hand 1965 Vauxhall Viva SL (Sport Luxury) 🙂 with a full 54 brake horsepower. My love affair with cars had begun. I used to wait for my Dad to turn off Manchester Road on his way home from work. He would sit me on his knee and let me steer the Viva the rest of the way home. Many a time I just sat in DYW716C on my own pretending to drive it. The elongated speedometer fascinated me and has never been forgotten.
What’s it got on the clock?
Like many small boys we estimated how fast a car could go by the maximum speed on the speedo. Our little Viva could go all the way up to 120 miles per hour.
The reality was somewhat different. At a push, downhill with the wind behind, it probably could touch 80 miles per hour at the most.
So what’s this got to do with investment risk?
Well if you have had your risk assessed by me live in the office you will have probably heard this story. If not, then hearing this story before you take the assessment will probably help you with some of the questions.
Investment Risk is like a car journey
So imagine being lucky enough to hold 4 tickets to the 1968 European Cup Final at Wembley. To get there we need to drive down in the Vauxhall Viva from Manchester. Now you have to bear with my story here. It never happened. I was only 7 and in hospital at the time having my appendix removed. But still imagine the journey.
Four excited people in our tiny Vauxhall Viva at full speed down the M6 and M1. It should only take 2.5 hours at a maximum 80mph. But the chances of arriving in that time would be slim. The Viva just wasn’t made for that kind of journey. It would shed a hose or lose a fan belt. We would end up on the hard shoulder nowhere near Wembley. By the time we got going again there would be a strong chance we would have missed the match.
Let’s respect the little Vauxhall Viva this time. Same journey but this time we never exceed 30 miles per hour. Steady slow progress. The journey would now take more like 7 hours and unless you set off very, very, early, you could still miss the match.
A Happy Medium
Progress that is neither too fast or too slow will probably lead to success. We would all drive at different speeds depending on the time we have available for the journey and the risk we are prepared to take to ensure we don’t miss arriving on time. The amount of risk we take with our capital can be measured in a similar fashion. Some of us never want or need to exceed 30 mph. Others are prepared to travel at 80 mph knowing there will be short periods where repairs are needed and it will feel like we are travelling backwards. Many never dare to drive. They spend their lives parked with their savings in a bank.
So choose your destination and work out how fast you need to travel
Let’s imagine we avoided both the risk of breaking down and the risk of being too late for the game. We would reach Wembley. We would be one of the 100,000 spectators to watch the glorious historic match when Manchester United beat Benfica 4 bloody 1!
I was in a side ward at Hope Hospital. I awoke to find my parents with most of the rest of the hospital staff huddled around a black and white TV. Memories.
WARNING: If you are not a fan of Manchester United you better not click play on the video