Value at Risk is the most popular estimation technique used by mutual funds, hedge funds, banks and insurance companies to determine how much money they can expect to lose if the stock market declines. The same Value at Risk models used by managers of billions of dollars can help small investors manage their 401(k) accounts.
VaR is a tool to quantify expected worst-case losses. In other words, Value at Risk software can answer the question, “What is the most I should expect to lose over the next month, with a 95 percent or 99 percent confidence level?” VaR software is commonly used to calculate possible losses from exposure to the stock market. But, the VaR concepts are versatile enough to be used to find potential portfolio losses associated with changes in interest rates, currency fluctuations or any other risk factor. VaR facts you need to know:
- Value at Risk models use past returns to estimate the future likelihood of losses.
- Complex mathematical principles are required to calculate VaR, but you don’t need to understand the math to benefit from Value at Risk models.
- Trading strategies can minimize Value at Risk, but first the portfolio VaR must be defined.
Learn the concepts underlying Value at Risk models
Successful investing is never easy. While most investors spend a lot of time deciding what stock to buy, few consider how to minimize their risk after they make that decision. Understanding VaR is one thing that separates professionals from amateur investors.
Use Value at Risk software to monitor portfolio VaR
Professional investors always have the right tools at their disposal. Value at Risk models cannot be implemented without an investment of time and money.
Develop strategies to minimize VaR and apply the Value at Risk models to the portfolio
All successful investment strategies require discipline to implement them. For large portfolios, consultants specializing in VaR might be needed.
Move beyond Value at Risk to fully analyze portfolio risk
Value at Risk is only one component of portfolio risk. Interest rates can move rapidly and cause losses in fixed income instruments. Companies that import or export (nearly all large companies) are at risk if currencies move too far, too fast. Among other risks a portfolio can face are rising energy prices, which have led to recessions in the past. Today's investment environment is complex, and risk management is a never-ending process.