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Active Risk

Active Risk

What Is Active Risk?

Active risk is a type of risk that a fund or managed portfolio makes as it endeavors to beat the returns of the benchmark against which it is compared. Risk qualities of a fund versus its benchmark give understanding on a fund's active risk.

Grasping Active Risk

Active risk is the risk a manager takes on in their efforts to outperform a benchmark and accomplish higher returns for investors. Actively managed funds will have risk qualities that shift from their benchmark. Generally, passively-managed funds try to have limited or no active risk in comparison to the benchmark they try to recreate.

Active risk can be seen through a comparison of numerous risk qualities. Three of the best risk metrics for active risk comparisons incorporate beta, standard deviation or volatility, and Sharpe Ratio. Beta implies a fund's liability relative to its benchmark. A fund beta greater than one demonstrates higher risk while a fund beta below one shows lower risk.

Standard deviation or volatility communicates the variation of the underlying securities extensively. A fund volatility measure that is higher than the benchmark shows higher risk while a fund volatility below the benchmark shows lower risk.

The Sharpe Ratio gives a measure to grasping the excess return as a function of the risk. A higher Sharpe Ratio means a fund is investing all the more proficiently by earning a higher return for every unit of risk.

Measuring Active Risk

There are two generally accepted methodologies for computing active risk. Depending on which method is utilized, active risk can be positive or negative. The principal method for ascertaining active risk is to deduct the benchmark's return from the investment's return. For instance, in the event that a mutual fund returned 8% throughout the span of a year while its pertinent benchmark index returned 5%, the active risk would be:

Active risk = 8% - 5% = 3%

This shows that 3% of unexpected return was acquired from either active security selection, market timing, or a combination of both. In this model, the active risk makes a positive difference. Nonetheless, had the investment returned under 5%, the active risk would be negative, demonstrating that security selections as well as market-timing choices that strayed from the benchmark were poor choices.

The second method for ascertaining active risk, and the one all the more frequently utilized, is to take the standard deviation of the difference of investment and benchmark returns over the long run. The formula is:

Active risk = square root of (summation of ((return (portfolio) - return (benchmark))\u00b2/(N - 1))

For instance, assume the following annual returns for a mutual fund and its benchmark index:

Year one: fund = 8%, index = 5%Year two: fund = 7%, index = 6%Year three: fund = 3%, index = 4%Year four: fund = 2%, index = 5%

The differences equivalent:

Year one: 8% - 5% = 3%Year two: 7% - 6% = 1%Year three: 3% - 4% = - 1%Year four: 2% - 5% = - 3%

The square root of the sum of the differences squared, isolated by (N - 1) equals the active risk (where N = the number of periods):

Active risk = Sqrt( ((3%\u00b2) + (1%\u00b2) + (- 1%\u00b2) + (- 3%\u00b2))/(N - 1) ) = Sqrt( 0.2%/3 ) = 2.58%

Model Using Active Risk Analysis

The Oppenheimer Global Opportunities Fund is a decent historical illustration of a fund that outperformed its benchmark with active risk, and it is valuable for showing the concept.

The Oppenheimer Global Opportunities Fund is an actively managed fund that looks to invest in both U.S. also, foreign stocks. It involves the MSCI All Country World Index as its benchmark. For the year 2017, it recorded a one-year return of 48.64% versus a return of 21.64% for the MSCI All Country World Index.

Oppenheimer Global Opportunities Fund (data for year-end 2017)
Name3 Year Beta3 Year Standard Deviation3 Year Sharpe Ratio
Oppenheimer Global Opportunities Fund1.1217.191.29
MSCI ACWI1.0010.590.78
The Fund's beta and standard deviation show the active risk included comparison to the benchmark. The Sharpe Ratio shows that the Fund is generating higher excess return per unit of risk than the benchmark.

Active Risk versus Residual Risk

Residual risk is company-explicit risks, like strikes, results of legal procedures, or natural catastrophes. This risk is known as diversifiable risk, since it very well may be killed by adequately differentiating a portfolio. There isn't a formula for working out residual risk; all things being equal, it must be extrapolated by deducting the systematic risk from the total risk.

Active risk emerges through portfolio management choices that veer off a portfolio or investment away from its passive benchmark. Active risk comes straightforwardly from human or software choices. Active risk is made by taking a active investment strategy rather than a totally passive one. Residual risk is inherent to each and every company and isn't associated with more extensive market developments.

Active risk and residual risk are fundamentally two distinct types of risks that can be managed or dispensed with, however in various ways. To kill active risk, follow a simply passive investment strategy. To dispose of residual risk, invest in an adequately large number of various companies inside and outside of the company's industry.


  • In particular, active risk is the difference between the managed portfolio's return less the benchmark return throughout some time span.
  • All portfolios have risk, yet systematic and residual risk are out of the hands of a portfolio manager, while active risk straightforwardly emerges from active management itself.
  • Active risk emerges from actively managed portfolios, for example, those of mutual funds or hedge funds, as it tries to beat its benchmark.