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Unsystematic Risk


Unsystematic risk, also known as specific risk or idiosyncratic risk, refers to the inherent danger associated with investing in a particular asset or a group of assets. It is company or industry-specific risk that can be mitigated through diversification in an investment portfolio. Other factors like management performance, financial practices, and regulatory environment can also contribute to unsystematic risk.


The phonetics of the keyword “Unsystematic Risk” is: ʌnˌsɪstəˈmætɪk rɪsk

Key Takeaways

  1. Individual Investment Risk: Unsystematic risk refers to the risk associated with a specific company or a particular sector. This means that unsystematic risks can be mitigated or eliminated through diversification of investments.
  2. Influence of Microeconomic Factors: Unsystematic risk is influenced by microeconomic factors such as labour issues, mismanagement, product recalls and other company-specific events. Unlike systematic risk that is affected by macroeconomic factors, the unsystematic risk is inherent to a particular firm.
  3. Controlled Through Diversification: The impact of unsystematic risk can be significantly reduced through portfolio diversification. By spreading investments across various assets, sectors, or companies, investors can limit their exposure to the risk associated with any one particular investment or sector.


Unsystematic risk, also known as specific risk or idiosyncratic risk, is critical in business/finance because it represents the inherent uncertainties associated with a specific company or industry. These may include factors such as management performance, consumer response to products, or labor strikes. As opposed to systematic risk that influences the overall market, unsystematic risk can be mitigated or eliminated through diversification, which involves spreading investments across various industries or companies. Therefore, it plays a vital role in portfolio management and investment strategies, highlighting the need for investors to diversify their portfolios to safeguard against potential losses associated with individual company or industry risks.


Unsystematic risk, often also referenced as company-specific or idiosyncratic risk, is inherent to individual companies or specific sectors, and it can be maneuvered using various risk management techniques, such as diversification of portfolio. The purpose of understanding unsystematic risk is to analyze potential vulnerabilities within a specific company or industry. Investors and portfolio managers use it to decide where to allocate resources. By accurately assessing this type of risk, an investor can mitigate potential negative returns by avoiding investments that pose high unsystematic risk.The primary usage of unsystematic risk is in the construct of an effective portfolio management strategy. By considering the unsystematic elements, which include management competency, financial health, and position within the industry, investors ensure that not all their investments are vulnerable to the same types of risk. In other words, even if one sector or company faces a downturn, the entire portfolio doesn’t suffer because of the careful spread across assets that are not similarly affected. Thus, significance of unsystematic risk lies in its role in diversification; it drives the strategy for mix and balance in an investment portfolio for optimum benefit versus risk ratio.


1. Changes in Management: A company may encounter unsystematic risk if there are changes in the top management. For instance, if a highly capable CEO or a founder of a company departs abruptly, it may lead to uncertainty with regards to the future direction of the company. This can affect the stock price and overall company performance, and these risks are only pertinent to that particular company and not the entire market.2. Launch of a New Product: A business might introduce a new product or service with high expectations, but the product might fail to perform well in the market. For example, when Coca-Cola introduced “New Coke” in 1985, the product failed drastically due to negative customer responses. This represented a significant unsystematic risk as it affected only Coca-Cola and not other businesses in the market.3. Legal or Regulatory Issues: Companies can also face unsystematic risk due to legal troubles or regulation changes. Let’s take the example of Volkswagen – In 2015, the emission scandal, commonly known as ‘Dieselgate’ , led to billions in fines, lawsuits, and vehicle recalls for the company. This issue presented an unsystematic risk as it was specific to Volkswagen, and did not affect the entire automobile sector.

Frequently Asked Questions(FAQ)

What is Unsystematic Risk?

Unsystematic risk, also known as specific risk or idiosyncratic risk, refers to the inherent dangers associated with a specific company or industry. It includes risks from business operations, sector location, and management performance.

How is Unsystematic Risk different from Systematic Risk?

While systematic risk is associated with the entire market or market segment and cannot be eradicated through diversification, unsystematic risk is unique to a specific company or industry. Thus, it can be reduced or eliminated through diversification of the investment portfolio.

What are some examples of Unsystematic Risk?

Examples of unsystematic risk include a sudden strike by employees, departure of a valuable executive, the discovery of a major defect in a product, or a damaging lawsuit against a company.

How can Unsystematic Risk be managed?

Unsystematic risk can be managed or reduced through diversification – by including different types of securities from various industries in your portfolio. Investment in mutual funds or exchange-traded funds (ETFs) can provide effective diversification.

What can cause Unsystematic Risk to rise?

Several factors can contribute to the increase of unsystematic risk, such as ineffective management, changes in regulatory policy specific to the industry, a decline in financial health, or launching of a new risky project.

Is Unsystematic Risk more or less risky than Systematic Risk?

Unsystematic risk is generally considered less risky than systematic risk as it pertains to a specific company or industry, not the entire market. Also, it is possible to drastically reduce unsystematic risk through diversification in an investment portfolio.

Does Unsystematic Risk impact all my investments?

No, unsystematic risk impacts the particular company or industry you’ve invested in, not your whole portfolio. This is why diversification is an effective way to minimize the exposure to unsystematic risk.

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