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Risk-Adjusted Return


Risk-Adjusted Return is a measure used to assess the financial performance of an investment relative to the risk taken. It is calculated by comparing the risk involved in the investment versus the potential returns, often using metrics like the Sharpe Ratio. Essentially, it helps investors understand the amount of risk endured to generate a particular level of return.


The phonetics of the keyword “Risk-Adjusted Return” would be: RISK: /rɪsk/ADJUSTED: /əˈdʒʌstɪd/RETURN: /rɪˈtɜrn/

Key Takeaways

<ol><li>Risk-Adjusted Return is a critical measure in evaluating the performance of an investment because it factors in the risk involved rather than relying solely on return. This gives a balanced picture taking into account both the potential profits and the associated risks.</li><li>There are various methods to calculate Risk-Adjusted Returns such as Sharpe Ratio, Sortino Ratio, and Treynor Ratio. Each of these ratios has a unique approach in measuring risk, making them suited for different types of investments and strategies.</li><li>Higher Risk-Adjusted Returns indicate better investment performance as it suggests that the given returns have been earned with less risk. Therefore, while evaluating investment options, it is advisable to go for ones that offer higher Risk-Adjusted Returns.</li></ol>


The term Risk-Adjusted Return is important in business and finance because it provides a more comprehensive measure of an investment’s performance, considering the risk involved in achieving that return. It enables investors and financial analysts to compare the returns of different investments while taking into account the degree of risk. This is crucial because, typically, higher risk is associated with the potential for higher returns and losses. Therefore, by evaluating the Risk-Adjusted Return, one can make a more informed investment decision, understanding if the potential returns justify the risks involved. Without this measure, an investor might be misled by high returns without fully appreciating the underlying risks.


Risk-Adjusted Return, as the name hints, is a calculation in the finance and business world specifically designed to measure the profitability of an investment concerning the level of risk associated with it. The aim is to provide investors with a more holistic view of an investment’s performance, instead of just looking at the absolute returns. It is a metric that helps investors to evaluate whether the risk taken in making an investment is being sufficiently compensated by the return that they anticipate to receive.This performance measure allows for more informed and strategic investment decisions, as the risk associated with a given investment cannot be ignored. It serves the purpose of comparing the relative profitability of various investments by calculating the return in relation to the financial risk involved, where higher risk should equate to higher expected returns for the investment to be justified. For instance, if two investments offer the same return, but one has a higher risk, the one with the lower risk generates a better risk-adjusted return. In essence, the Risk-Adjusted Return evens the game by bringing the risk factor at the forefront for consideration alongside the potential return.


1. Investment in Stocks: A classic example of Risk-Adjusted Return is the stock market investment. Individuals buy stocks of different companies expecting return in the form of dividends or an increase in stock price. However, investing in stocks involves high risk, as the return can fluctuate due to market volatility. Investors thus evaluate the expected return by adjusting for this risk.2. Real Estate: When an individual decides to invest in real estate properties, for instance buying an apartment and then leasing it, the expected return is the rent income. However, the risk factors include potential damages, non-occupancy periods, fluctuation in property value, or legal issues. The risk-adjusted return will take into account these potential risks to provide a more realistic return estimation.3. Mutual Funds: Mutual funds are investment schemes that pool money from various investors to invest in different financial instruments like stocks and bonds. The projected return from a mutual fund must be adjusted for the risk involved, which may include potential loss in the value of the fund due to decrease in the market value of the underlying assets. This risk-adjusted return gives investors a clearer picture of whether the potential returns justify the inherent risks in the fund.

Frequently Asked Questions(FAQ)

What is Risk-Adjusted Return?

Risk-Adjusted Return is a calculation of the profit potential of an investment that takes into account the degree of risk involved in the process. It helps to identify the worst-case scenarios for investments and assess whether the potential return is enough to warrant the risk.

How is Risk-Adjusted Return calculated?

There are several methods for computing Risk-Adjusted Return. Key methods include the Sharpe Ratio, the Sortino Ratio, and the Treynor Ratio. These models look at aspects such as the expected returns, standard deviation of returns, and risk-free rate of return.

Why is Risk-Adjusted Return important in finance?

Risk-Adjusted Return provides investors a more comprehensive understanding of the rewards versus the risks involved in an investment. By considering the risk as well as the return, investors can make more informed and prudent investment decisions.

How does Risk-Adjusted Return help in comparing investments?

It allows investors to compare the return of investment opportunities on a like-for-like basis, taking into account the level of risk involved in each investment. This means that it provides a fair comparison between high-risk and low-risk investments.

Can Risk-Adjusted Return measure potential losses?

Yes, it can. Risk-Adjusted Return doesn’t only consider potential profits; it also considers potential losses. This helps to effectively manage investment risks by emphasizing the possible losses that could occur in adverse market situations.

What is the relation between Risk-Adjusted Return and diversification?

Diversification can influence the Risk-Adjusted Return of a portfolio by potentially reducing the risk without equivalently decreasing the expected return. Therefore, a well-diversified portfolio can often help improve the Risk-Adjusted Return.

How do professional investors use Risk-Adjusted Return?

Professional investors use Risk-Adjusted Return to evaluate their investment portfolios and individual securities within their portfolios. By understanding the returns for a given level of risk, investors can optimize their portfolios to achieve the highest possible return for a specific level of risk.

What limitations does Risk-Adjusted Return have?

It can’t predict future performance or risk, and it doesn’t consider political, operational, or sector-specific risks. The calculations are also determined by historical data, and past performance isn’t always an accurate predictor of future results. Lastly, Risk-Adjusted Returns may not accurately reflect the risk for investments that don’t have a normal distribution of returns.

Related Finance Terms

  • Alpha: A measure of the excess return or active return of an investment relative to the return of a benchmark index.
  • Sharpe Ratio: A statistical measure that calculates the adjusted return of an investment by dividing the excess return by the standard deviation of the returns, showing the performance of the investment compared to the risk taken.
  • Standard Deviation: A statistical measure of portfolio or investment risk which shows how much the return on a portfolio or investment is deviating from the expected normal returns.
  • Beta: A measure of a portfolio or investment’s risk in relation to the market or a benchmark index. A beta of less than 1 means that the investment will be less volatile than the market, while a beta of more than 1 indicates that the investment’s price will be more volatile than the market.
  • Risk-Free Rate: The theoretical rate of return of an investment with zero risk. It represents the interest an investor would expect from an absolutely risk-free investment over a specific period of time.

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